Tom Stanton has written a pretty solid book. He has provided a in depth look at the immortal Hank Aaron as he chases the mystical number of 714, the nTom Stanton has written a pretty solid book. He has provided a in depth look at the immortal Hank Aaron as he chases the mystical number of 714, the number of career homeruns for perhaps baseballs most celebrated player, Babe Ruth. What I really found intriguing about the story are the personalities of the two legends. You have the brash, outspoken Babe Ruth who lived a life of excess clashing against the stoic, mild-manner Hank Aaron. There is also the different career paths led by each man. Ruth, starting as a pitcher in Boston and then traded to New York made baseball a spectacle in cities deep in baseball lore. Having been in the mecca of the American media, Ruth became a super-hero, a mythical god performing Herculean feats in front of thousands of Yankee fans. Ruth's nicknames almost match the number of his homeruns. Compare that to Hank Aaron. He played in the Midwest in front of home crowds in Milwaukee until the team packed up and moved to Atlanta. Even during the stretch run of his chase, Aaron played to paltry crowds in his home stadium. In Atlanta Stadium many crowds never surpassed 10,000 people to watch a piece of American history. Aaron had to fight just to keep his name in front of his other contemporaries like Johnny Bench, Willie Mays, and Roberto Clemente. Ruth was held to no one. Aaron was the model of consistency. Hardly without flash or flamboyance, he somehow upheld his homerun totals as he neared the age of 40 while keeping up his lifetime .300 average. These two men who stood atop the baseball mountain certainly took different routes seeking their baseball immortality.
What is at the forefront of this book, however, is the swirling issue of race that had surrounded Aaron's chase. Following in the footsteps of Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby, Hank Aaron had entered baseball at a time where African-Americans were just beginning to ingrain themselves into the Major Leagues. Aaron carried the burden of his brothers as they passed the torch to him. Jackie Robinson himself implored Aaron to speak out against injustices by reminding him that he was now on a pedestal where he can make a difference.
I think the book does a great job of capturing the times and really getting into the darker side of the homerun chase. While we remember Aaron's shot of Al Downing, we may forget that the man chasing the record faced a challenge that many of us could never survive. Hate mail, death threats, bomb threats tried to slow Hank, but his resiliency pushed him past all the negativity to that magical night in 1974.
Baseball fans of all ranges will really get into this book. I think this story will also resonate with readers interested in the Civil Rights movement and those interested in studying race in sports. Overall, this is a quality book that is well researched and reads like a script. I think at times the transistions are sloppy as they aren't just written in chronological order. A little background with the people, places, and issues of the time will definitely help readers keep track of the extensive list of names and references. I'd recommend this book to most readers....more
Disclaimer: My edition was an advanced reader. A few typos were fixed I'm sure. Never the less here we go....
With the success of Moneyball some yearsDisclaimer: My edition was an advanced reader. A few typos were fixed I'm sure. Never the less here we go....
With the success of Moneyball some years ago, it wouldn't surprise me if this book made a little buzz around the sport section of your local bookstore. While the themes are similar, please do not think this is simply another examination of Sabermetrics adapted to another baseball franchise. This book covers more of the business sense put into developing the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays.
I found this book very readable and enjoyable for the most part. The tone surprised me a little because of interjections made by the author to illustrate some points. For instance, the author makes reference to his employment with Bloomberg Sports after stating that Bloomberg had entered the arena of creating statistical databases for major league ball clubs (p. 194). I guess he was worried about showing bias, but to reference Bloomberg as a "giant" like the author did isn't really a stretch.
Anyways, the writer does a good job of laying out his research in lay terms. The references and statistics were not overwhelming and did not bog down the reading. I did find the book to lack in this area however, hoping to find more examples and stronger evidence to support the subject. At the end of the book, I felt a little unsatisfied and wished the author had gone into a little more depth.
The first half of the book laid the background for the Tampa Bay organization. Here I think the author did a great job. He illustrated the mistakes made by the Ray's front office and explained why change was necessary. The second half discussed the changes made after Stuart Sternberg became majority owner of the ball club. Without giving too much away, the new business minds that took changed the face of the Rays by completely changing the mindset of the organization towards player development, marketing, and winning.
I did enjoy this book despite its brevity and think it's worth a read. Again, I found the description of the methods used by the Rays a little sparse, but a reader should be able to get enough to understand what is going on. Some prior knowledge of baseball and/or business management will make the references easier to understand. I would recommend this to both casual readers and fans of the sport.
Vincent Naimoli might want to pass on this one though....more
Young Mandela is an exhaustive book about the details of the young life of South African leader Nelson Mandela. The book has been a little difficult tYoung Mandela is an exhaustive book about the details of the young life of South African leader Nelson Mandela. The book has been a little difficult to get through because of its plodding pace and extensive details. You can tell while reading that the author must have spent hours and hours doing research before producing a final product. There are references and cross-references for numerous details of Mandela's life. There is a good balance of political and personal information that really allows a reader to get to know the man behind bringing down apartheid in South Africa.
Though I do recommend this title, I do it with caution. I am not the fastest reader, so this book has been burdensome to read. The detailed information will definitely require anyone to be able to handle a lot of information pertaining to people, places, dates and apply them to the storyline of Mandela's life. The strongest element of this book is the honesty and bipartisanship of the author. While its true that a great majority of people would agree that he is a very inspirational world figure, Nelson Mandela is not without fault. Smith does a great job of reminding us of that and presents Mandela as any other man who has their faults. I find this type of research and honesty refreshing. It shows the commitment Smith has made to his subject and his strength as a story teller.
I would recommend this book to anyone who may be interested in the topic, but would warn recreational readers about diving into this one. The book is a strong example of extensive research but its weight many be too heavy for some readers to carry....more
If you are a fan of the sport, the times, or Joe Louis then I'd highly recommend this book. I've always found boxing fascinating especially during itsIf you are a fan of the sport, the times, or Joe Louis then I'd highly recommend this book. I've always found boxing fascinating especially during its heyday in the United States. I have always been intrigued by the public view of the sport and how it can champion or villianize it's competitors. The one downfall of this book is that the research is so indepth that it can become burdensome to read.
Again not for the average reader but if you take a special interest in the sport, I'd recommend picking this one up....more
This is a difficult book to grasp. Jon Krakauer captures the story of Chris McCandless who was found dead in an abandoned bus in the Alaskan3Q 2P A/YA
This is a difficult book to grasp. Jon Krakauer captures the story of Chris McCandless who was found dead in an abandoned bus in the Alaskan wild at the young age of 24. He seemingly had his whole life in front of him. He was intelligent. He came from a very successful family. He was energetic, outgoing, and already had a college degree from Emory.
The book is written as a follow up to an article written for Outsider magazine by Krakauer. He pieced together the scattered story as best as he could. Chris set out after he graduated to find his meaning of happiness and left a very sparse trail behind him. He burned the money from his pocket. He never felt the need to contact his parents who he had a trouble relationship with.
The book is difficult to grasp because as I read it, I couldn't decide where to place the subject Chris. As Krakauer documents the jury remains out McCandless. Is he a hero for rejecting society and its injustices to conquer the wild? Is he just an immature young man, too confident in his ideals and immortality to accept the gifts given to him leading to the destruction of his own life? Krakauer attempts to put the story into perspective by comparing his own life experiences along with a few similar stories that relate to Chris.
The problem I found with this book is that these other stories seemed to not provide a lot of perspective. I found the other stories to be unique and they must be looked at individually. Unfortunately Krakauer has such little information about the McCandless story that these stories seem to just bulk up the book rather than provide any more insight. While the story is very intriguing, it suffers greatly from the holes that exist in the story due to the lack of evidence.
Young adults may get into the story, especially young males. They will probably like the adventurous and rebellious nature of McCandless. The story will be more relatable to older teens, especially high schoolers. The language and situations may be unsuitable for younger audiences as well. Readers interested in outdoor adventure and travel essays would likely get into this book, but casual readers may find it too slow, despite its relatively small volume. ...more
James Bradley's book is a masterpiece of historical writing that will not wear down readers with heavy language or intimidate with hundreds5Q 2P A/YA
James Bradley's book is a masterpiece of historical writing that will not wear down readers with heavy language or intimidate with hundreds of pages. This is a biography written about the five men who raised the United States flag on Mount Suribachi on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima during the second World War. Bradley's father along with two other men Ira Hayes and Rene Gagnon survived the attack on the island and were sent home on orders from the United States government after a photograph of the scene had been sent home. The unforgettable picture became a national phenomena and would forever change the lives of the three surviving soldiers.
This book is a fascinating read as the author recreates the oral stories of these men from either direct conversation or other sources related to them. It will please any young reader who has interest in World War II or an American history enthusiast. The battle scenes described in this book allows the reader to become emotionally invested in the lives of these heroic men. The author holds nothing back when it comes to describing the horrors of pain and death in the battlefields.
Perhaps more impressive and unique is the author's ability to describe the home lives of the three men as they come back from fighting. Each man carries the burden of his trials in their own way. Again the author does not sugarcoat any of the domestic struggles these men went through. These honest accounts makes the reader reflect upon the misconceptions of glamourizing war, decorated home lives, and the invincible image of heroes. While not taking away from their courage and heroics on the battlefield, the author keeps these men humbled and human by not hiding anything. For example, one man Ira Hayes must deal with the fact that he is a Native American living in a white man's world. Without his uniform, he is nothing but another Indian drunk in the eyes of the public.
This book would not appeal to most young adult readers because of the content inside. Those looking for a John Wayne war story will want to look elsewhere. The imagery is very intense and graphic. The description of the domestic struggles of the three men is also not a pretty picture either, which might turn off some readers looking for a feel good story. Readers interested in the subject will definitely get into this title with no problem, but other than that it would likely take a lot of convincing to find other young adults to pick this one up....more