Not a conventional championship-season kind of treatment but a thoughtful, comprehensive, and even deeply personal account...

DODGERLAND

DECADENT LOS ANGELES AND THE 1977-78 DODGERS

The late-1970s Los Angeles Dodgers are a not-so-distant window through which we can view American culture, then and now.

Fallon, who has published previously about the cultural scene in the City of Angels during the same epoch (Creating the Future: Art and Los Angeles in the 1970s, 2014), weaves several stories into his attractive tapestry: the story of his grandfather’s economic rise and fall, Mayor Tom Bradley’s ultimately successful bid to bring the 1984 Olympic Games to LA, the various struggles of writer Tom Wolfe (to understand the quickly changing culture, to write The Right Stuff) and, principally, the Dodgers’ 1977-1978 seasons, both of which resulted in World Series losses to the reviled Yankees. Within the Dodgers’ larger story, Fallon tells many smaller ones—e.g., the managing styles and troubles of new manager Tommy Lasorda, the contentious pitcher Don Sutton, the all-American (and, later, tainted) image of hitting star Steve Garvey (who ended up in a famous locker-room brawl with Sutton), the vicissitudes of outfielder Rick Monday. Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson both shines and fades. The author continually takes us away from the ballpark, as well, to remind us of the popular movies (Star Wars and Jaws among them), music (Frank Zappa, the Bee Gees), and TV shows (Three’s Company). In this ambitious and thoroughly researched account, we learn about the economic woes of the era—the author examines Proposition 13—the political figures, including President Jimmy Carter, and so much more (Hugh Hefner). Although Fallon’s account races at times, especially during some Dodgers’ play-by-play sections, he sometimes allows his diction to slide into cliché—in one brief section, we get sea changes and watershed moments and writing on the wall.

Not a conventional championship-season kind of treatment but a thoughtful, comprehensive, and even deeply personal account of a boisterous era whose echoes remain loud, even painful.

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8032-4940-0

Page Count: 468

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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

NIGHT

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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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