Though somewhat elementary in places, a sensitive work that celebrates even as it demythologizes.



The bittersweet tale of San Pedro de Macorís, the struggling Dominican town that has sent 79 players to the Major Leagues since the early 1960s.

Prolific nonfiction author Kurlansky (The Food of a Younger Land, 2009, etc.) sails smoothly into the bay of baseball, despite a few anchor drops into superfluity (e.g., explanations of a sacrifice bunt and a switch-hitter). Nonetheless, the author tells a compelling, multifaceted story. He sketches the history of the island that the Dominican Republic shares with Haiti, examines little-known cultural contributions of the Dominicans and explores the various economic forces that have driven, and sunk, San Pedro over the years, including fishing, sugar cane, tourism and, throughout much of the last century, baseball. He even finds time for some local recipes, inserting them here and there as he did in his bestselling book Cod (1997). Kurlansky examines the careers of some of the region’s most notable stars, including Julio Franco, Juan Marichal, George Bell and Sammy Sosa, who was tarnished by the steroid scandal. The author notes how returning MLB players remain life-long celebrities in a town where many struggle to eke out a subsistence-level living from seasonal work in sugar cane harvesting or in even less remunerative occupations. The author also looks at the sprawling baseball culture in the town, which features three-dozen fields, scouts, training schools and academies and numerous local teams, including the eponymous and perennial also-ran Eastern Stars. Alert to the cultural and racial problems in the United States, Kurlansky razes the nasty edifice of the “hot-blooded Latin” stereotype and notes that Dominican players continue to suffer from a plethora of prejudices. Of course, he effectively addresses the principal question—why San Pedro? The answer seems both simple and heartbreaking: Baseball is hope.

Though somewhat elementary in places, a sensitive work that celebrates even as it demythologizes.

Pub Date: April 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59448-750-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2010

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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