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The Eastern Stars: How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Macoris
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The Eastern Stars: How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Macoris

3.01 of 5 stars 3.01  ·  rating details  ·  247 ratings  ·  57 reviews
"A fantastic social history" from the author of "Salt" and "Cod" ("USA Today")
In the Dominican Republic town of San Pedro de Macoris, baseball is often seen as the only way to a better life. For those who make it, the million-dollar paychecks from Major League Baseball mean that not only they, but their entire families as well, have been saved from grinding poverty. The
ebook, 288 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by Riverhead Books (first published 2010)
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I can't believe just how bad this was.

It was an aimless look at baseball in the Dominican Republic town of San Pedro. I think. That's what Kurlansky tells me this is about. There is some information on how the town came to be - and the role of the sugar markets. But the books drifts from topic to topic, often repeating itself in a way that reads like bad editing and hasty first-draft writing.

And perhaps there are readers who know nothing about baseball, but this is written as if to explain baseb
This book badly needed to be written. May it please be put on library shelves, replacing dull histories of the Yankees, Red Sox, and Brooklyn Dodgers. Mark Kurlansky, meanwhile, ain't Walt Whitman, and no disrespect to Whitman, but that's a good thing. Baseball lovers will be disproportionately attracted to the book, but it notably is not about baseball, and it's not geared toward baseball fans. It's more about the surrounding society and the history of how this small island has changed and been ...more
Mmmm. Not as enthralling as Kurlansky's best works, nor as thorough. I don't think that the book was as much about HOW baseball changed San Pedro as it was about WHY San Pedro produces so many Major League players, so if you're expecting more of a "baseball and all its money came to town, here's what happened" story, that's not what you'll be getting. It's more of a "why baseball and all its money came to San Pedro in the first place" kind of story. One isn't better than the other, but they are ...more
Feb 04, 2012 Valerie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Les Forster, Dad, Rick Coencas, Amy Neer
Once again, the moral of the story is that practice, the willingness to devote your time, energy and focus to something, will result in making you better at it.

The rules that make it cheaper to sign a 16 year old Dominican, instead of an 18 year old US citizen are both part of the problem of the decline of baseball, and a logical response to that decline in the US. In places the stuff about rules and fans and how teams find talent, reminded me of the wistfulness of Fever Pitch. It seems like tea
ark Kurlansky wrote one of my favorite books (Salt) and one book I used for summer reading for my European History class (Cod). Kurlansky specializes in bringing together the most varied strings of information to produce an overall history of a single item. I was very excited for this book, as:

1. I am a baseball nut.
2. I love the other three books of his that I have read.

Alas, it was not to be.Kurlansky breaks down the book into two sections, Sugar and Dollars.

"For those who don't make it,
San Pedro de Macoris is a city in the Dominican Republic (population nearly 200,000 as of 2010) which is famous for producing numerous major league baseball players over the past 50 years, including stars such as Rico Carty, Pedro Guerrero, Joaquin Andujar, Julio Franco, Sammy Sosa, Alfonso Soriano, and Robinson Cano. It's been justly described as the richest hotbed of baseball talent in the world. This book delves into the history of the city; its nation; and the players themselves, investigati ...more
Josh C.
A grinding mess. Kurlansky seems to know the Dominican Republic and San Pedro de Macorís, but the book makes me wonder whether he resented having to use baseball as the hook for the history volume he would have preferred to write. The baseball descriptions are overly detailed for anyone who knows the structure or history of the game, and the history is difficult to push through as he seems to think every so often "I guess I have to say something about baseball here."

I also have a tough time trus
The Eastern Stars is more a history of the Dominican Republic than a baseball book, but as author Mark Kurlansky clearly demonstrates, for the last 40 years or so the history of the Dominican Republic has clearly been molded and in some ways defined by its love of baseball. It is also a clear sign of the unhealthy state of economic affairs in a country when so many young people see no hope in moving up in the world except for playing professional baseball in America.

Kurlansky takes his readers
Paul Pessolano
If you are a baseball afficionado you will probably recognize the town of "San Pedro de Macoris". San Pedro de Macoris is a small town in the Dominican Republic that has become famous for producing an incredible number of young men that have made it to the Major Leagues.

Mark Kurlansky mixes both the historical background of the Dominican Republic and it's proclivity for producing Major League baseball players. The historical aspect of the book gives a detail description of how poor the Dominican
Steven Peterson
This book examines the extraordinary story of the Dominican town of San Pedro de Macoris. Any baseball fan immediately recognizes the place--the home of far more baseball players than one could imagine from such a place.

The book begins with a sense of the hardscrabble life of those living in this community. A hard life in the sugar cane fields or the mills processing sugar cane. As the sugar industry contracted, life became even harder. There was also racism, given that people from many countrie
Paolo Pietropaolo

I enjoyed reading this book. So why am I giving it only two stars? Unlike many baseball fans who were expecting something more inside-baseball, whose disappointment is apparent from one glance at the reviews here on Goodreads, my disappointment stems not from the content of the book, which I found fascinating, but from the writing itself. It is an easy and pleasurable read, but it is disorganized, and left me a bit nonplussed. I was expecting to be swept away by Kurlansky, and I simply wasn't.

While the topic interests me, the writing did not.

A lot of history of the Dominican Republic here, which is fine and could be quite interesting, but I found myself impatient, skimming through some of these sections, eager to find the parts about baseball and the MLB players from the DR and the small town of San Pedro de Macorin. No matter what the topic, though, I didn’t find Kurlansky’s narrative style particularly interesting. It is almost entirely passive voice (like this review), and while
Tim Hoiland
To get geared up for the new baseball season I read The Eastern Stars: How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Macoris (Riverhead). It’s written by Mark Kurlansky, a New York Times bestselling author of a number of books mostly having to do with food in one way or another.

Those who follow baseball at all are probably aware that a lot of players in recent years have come from the Dominican Republic (somewhere in the neighborhood of 10% of MLB players are Dominican). What’s more, a
Meg Petersen
This is a topic I am passionately interested in, and I found this book lacking in many, many respects. I think if you can't get to the point in your investigation where you understand your subject from that subject's point of view, you need to keep digging and not start writing. The review of Dominican history was condescending and simplistic. He goes so far as to say that Dominicans have no culture, and seems to have some kind of ax to grind in this regard, trying to prove that nothing is authe ...more
Every spring, right around the start of baseball season, I like to read a couple of books about my favorite sport. Luckily, baseball is the king of all sports in terms of quality choices to read. The EASTERN STARS by Mark Kurlansky is not such a book. Kurlansky, known for a couple of food related books SALT and COD, should really stick to writing about those topics because it's blindingly obvious baseball isn't his strongest topic of knowledge. Maybe only a rabid, well-versed follower of the spo ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Named after San Pedro's home team, Estrellas Orientales, The Eastern Stars hit a home run with some critics and struck out with others. Kurlansky tackles his subject capably, explaining key baseball terms and concepts for readers unfamiliar with the game, but he doesn't write with the passion and determined focus of a sportswriter. Critics who panned The Eastern Stars cited Kurlansky's failure to humanize his story as well as a few holes in his own understanding of the game. However, as the stud ...more
Kurlansky takes a break from food microhistories to write about baseball. Specifically about Dominican players from one small town in the Dominican Republic, many of who have ended up in the major league. How this small ex-sugar producing town become one of the epi-centers of baseball is explained by Kurlansky through both history and personal stories of players who made it. The historical information was interesting as it becomes clear that most of our historical emphasis is on either American ...more
Seeing the movie "Sugar" began my interest in the Dominican Republic and our recent vacation there made me even more interested in the country and the culture. It really is true that the Dominican Republic is all about baseball. Conversations with the staff at our resort and our tour guide all led to conversations about baseball, in spite of the language barrier. This book is part history, part travelogue and part sports - a very entertaining read for anyone who loves baseball or the DR. I did n ...more
One of the worst baseball books I've ever read. I had very high hopes for this book and was bitterly disappointed. Mr Kurlansky did a fine job of presenting the history of the Dominican Republic. However, I noted a large number of obvious baseball factual mistakes in the book which leads me to wonder about the authenticity of his information about DR's history.
This book is presented in two halves. The first half is a very mundane description of the DR's history and economics. I understand why it
Dan Mansfield
Wow, this is bad. One word of advice for Mr. Kurlansky: If you are going to write a book that is meant to appeal to baseball fans interested in learning about how the sport has shaped a society, at least learn the language of the game and get your facts straight. There were so many factual errors in the book that I had serious doubts that the author has ever been to a baseball game in his life, much less visited the Dominican Republic to actually conduct first-person research.

Needless to say, th
I usually like books that use baseball as a metaphor for some aspect of life. I seem to have missed the metaphor in Eastern Stars, but I enjoyed learning about the role of baseball in the Dominican Republic. It is amazing that 79 US major league players came from the very small town of San Pedro de Macorís in the Dominican Republic. It was fun that I recognized a number of players. I liked the overview of Dominican history and learning something of the history of the sugar industry. I particular ...more
Terry Earley
Although I am only sometimes baseball fan, I tend to enjoy Kurlansky's books, and have often wondered as many have, why so many major league ballplayers come from the Dominican Republic.

The history is fascinating and the circumstances these players overcome is often inspiring, I found this book included almost too much detail. Could Kurlansky help himself? I doubt it.

If you do not get bogged down in the detail (as with his other books), you will enjoy the narrative.

The nagging question remains:
Lacking in depth and purpose, this reads like long-form magainze writing gone astray; you can't help but wonder if Kurlansky realized mid-project that there just wasn't enough there to write the story he was looking for
I had such high hopes for this book, mostly because it's about baseball and I've heard such great things about Mark Kurlansky, but I really didn't enjoy it very much. I only finished it because it was really short (220 pages, though there are another 50 pages of "appendix"). There was no real story, it felt very disjointed and disorganized. There was no overall arc to the information in the book and it felt completely pointless at the end of the day. Actually, the only impact it had was making m ...more
This was an interesting book in the perspective that it gave on baseball from the Dominican Republic. The author does an outstanding job of describing the lives, culture, and background of where the players come from, their motivation, their perspectives, and their lives - before, during, and after their careers. The one drawback was that a lot of very simple baseball concepts were explained in much more detail than needed, since I think that someone who would read this book probably has the bas ...more
Margaret Sankey
Having exhausted cold and salt-related subjects, Kurlansky turns to examining why the town of San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic has produced 79 major league baseball players, many of them popular shortstops. Apparently, the intersection of a failing sugar industry, corrupt and dictatorial government, Cold War embargoes against Cuba, swinging a machete, seasonal labor and makeshift equipment are the perfect training ground for producing players whose careers enable them to be remitta ...more
This was really poorly done. I wanted to love the book and the topic, but it was done an injustice by the author. Disjointed, incomplete, and boring writing that didn't do San Pedro, it's people. And it's baseball history the justice it deserves.
Allon Porter
Numerous facts in this book are very incorrect.
David Lucander
If you're interested in Latino baseball see the film "Sugar" and if you want to know more about the exploitation of Hispanic people read "The Open Veins of Latin America." Liking both of these, I thought I'd love this book. Part travelogue, part history, part journalism - but surprisingly dull. I've read a few other pieces by Kurlansky and was really expecting more. What's with the 35+ page appendix of big-league San Pedro ballplayers? There's also a factual error on, p. 93 - January 2, 1963 sho ...more
This was a fun read and I felt for the desperation of the young men and boys who see baseball as the only way out of poverty, despite the high odds against making it to the major leagues. I am always somewhat disappointed in Mark Kurlansky's later works. Nothing can live up to Salt: A World History.
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Mark Kurlansky (born 7 December 1948 in Hartford, Connecticut) is a highly-acclaimed American journalist and writer of general interest non-fiction. He is especially known for titles on eclectic topics, such as cod or salt.

Kurlansky attended Butler University, where he harbored an early interest in theatre and earned a BA in 1970. However, his interest faded and he began to work as a journalist in
More about Mark Kurlansky...
Salt: A World History Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell The Basque History of the World: The Story of a Nation The Food of a Younger Land: The WPA's Portrait of Food in Pre-World War II America

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