COLLISION AT HOME PLATE

THE LIVES OF PETE ROSE AND BART GIAMATTI

A collision indeed—an atomic explosion of sorts—as intelligence, grace, and arrogance (Giamatti) meet stupidity, sweat, and arrogance (Rose), with fallout that will affect the world of baseball for decades to come. Reston (The Lone Star: The Life of John Connally, 1989, etc.) has tried before to weave two different stories into a seamless whole, in his Sherman's March and Vietnam (1984), with bumpy results. Here, he succeeds brilliantly. Let's credit his two protagonists, perfect examples of America's social and moral stratification. In this corner: Rose the ruffian, a lout from the Cincinnati riverbanks, a poor student, ``loud and vulgar,'' increasingly drawn to the world of vice (gambling, adultery, smuggling, the company of coke dealers) as he grew older. In the other corner: Giamatti the scholar, Yale valedictorian, Renaissance expert, a lover of dignified poses, ``inordinately interested in punishing transgressors'' both as Yale President and as Commissioner of Baseball. Yet an obsessive, childish love for baseball united these two men: Giamatti treasured the game as the epitome of human elegance, while Rose declared that ``I'd walk through hell in a gasoline suit to keep playing baseball.'' Reston paints the life of each, two upward curves reaching their apex as Rose sets a new baseball-hit record, and Giamatti then defends the national honor by banning the gambling-crazy Rose from baseball forever. Best of all, Reston canonizes neither figure: Rose comes off as Fred Flintstone with an attitude; Giamatti as Mr. Clean-Jeans, a dignified man whose flaw was to care more about image than fairness. Now Giamatti is dead, Rose a convicted felon just released from the pen—and the public wonders when the tarnish will wear off the national pastime. A sorry story, told with guts and verve.

Pub Date: June 5, 1991

ISBN: 0-06-016379-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1991

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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