An affectionate look at a rollicking slice of baseball history.




How three baseball legends helped prepare the country for the integration of Major League Baseball.

As a result of a few primary factors, interracial baseball came to the fore during the 1930s and ’40s. These included the flourishing of the Negro Leagues; the emergence of Satchel Paige as, perhaps, baseball’s best pitcher (see Larry Tye’s Satchel, 2009); and the willingness of the game’s wackiest star and premier gate attraction, Dizzy Dean, and maybe the greatest fastballer ever, Bob Feller, to regularly pit themselves against black competition. Public-affairs consultant and former press secretary Gay (Tris Speaker: The Rough-and-Tumble Life of a Baseball Legend, 2006) wisely eschews ascribing advanced racial consciousness to any of his featured players. The author makes clear that all three were motivated primarily by money. At a time when most players took off-season jobs to make ends meet, barnstorming the provinces after the World Series and before winter’s onset proved lucrative. Frequently last-minute affairs—until Feller came along, took over the promotion himself, introduced tight scheduling and pioneered the use of airplanes to maximize profit—these black-white exhibitions accustomed audiences to interracial ball long before Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson collaborated on their great experiment. Because record-keeping was haphazard, the process of reconstructing the contests, or even compiling the rosters, presents significant research problems, but Gay is up to the challenge. For all three of his principals, he offers colorful mini-portraits. He also provides compelling sketches of lesser-known players, including Negro League Turkey Stearnes, Cool Papa Bell, Bullet Joe Rogan and Hilton Smith, whose exciting brand of ball demonstrated for white audiences that the black player was every bit a match for his white counterpart.

An affectionate look at a rollicking slice of baseball history.

Pub Date: March 30, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4165-4798-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet