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

3.13  ·  Rating details ·  361 ratings  ·  77 reviews
The intriguing, inspiring history of one small, impoverished area in the Dominican Republic that has produced a staggering number of Major League Baseball talent, from an award-winning, bestselling author.
In the town of San Pedro in the Dominican Republic, baseball is not just a way of life. It's "the" way of life. By the year 2008, seventy-nine boys and men from San Ped
...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 15th 2010 by Riverhead Books (first published 2010)
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Average rating 3.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  361 ratings  ·  77 reviews


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Start your review of The Eastern Stars: How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Macoris
N-rose
May 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Matt
Sep 22, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Nancy
Apr 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010, non-fiction
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
Valerie
Apr 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Barney
Dec 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
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.

Sugar
"For those who don't make it,
...more
Joel
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: baseball, caribbean
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
John
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
I feel a little bad giving this a poor review, because there is a lot to like about it. I read it because it is the time of the year for baseball books, and I didn't know anything about the history of baseball in the Dominican Republic. I have been playing around with a lecture on the spread of sports in the Americas, and there is lots of interesting stuff here that I could throw in.
But then I started to notice mistakes. And once I started noticing them they kept popping up. First it was little
...more
Skip
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, sports
The subtitle of The Eastern Stars is accurate, but incomplete. As with just about everything Kurlansky writes, there's a whole lot of background leading up to the main theme. The book is certainly about baseball changing San Pedro, but it's also about everything else that impacted San Pedro and the rest of the Dominican Republic, as well as quite a bit of baseball history.

The early chapters are largely about the origins of the city of San Pedro, and how it became a production powerhouse in the s
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Kevin Costain
There’s a lot of history here. One might say all this is not necessary, but leading up to an understanding of why San Pedro was such an important part of the DR is good to know. This distilled version of that history included many details I wasn’t aware of about the country.

There is, at times, some repetition in passages, notably mentioning that Alfredo Griffin won the Rookie of the Year is mentioned twice by page 125. Repeating these details makes me think the book could have done with a bette
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Nathan
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: baseball
Both the sheer number of errors and the obvious nature of these errors in this book is incredibly surprising. Why would any book about baseball claim, as Kurlansky does, that Hector Carrasco "had a 3.99 ERA and had hit 69 home runs" in his career or that, similarly, Guillermo Mota "had a career ERA of 3.93 and had hit 67 home runs"? This evinces a fundamental lack of understanding of the game. Perhaps it is just to troll people who care about baseball? Maybe all sports, as Kurlansky refers to th ...more
John Hiller
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting book, and incredibly insightful. As Major League Baseball is becoming integrated more and more by players from around the world, this was a great look at the history of baseball in the Dominican Republic, and how their love for the game developed from its earliest origins. From the difficulty of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier to the modern presence of steroids in baseball, Mr. Kurlansky weaves the culture of this Caribbean country into the history of America's ...more
Angela
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: atw2020
The subject matter of the book was pretty interesting--the rise of baseball programs in the Dominican Republic along with the growth and decline of the sugar industry--but the execution wasn't quite there. It felt like another draft was necessary to tighten up the story. It also would've been nice if the author had a stronger conclusion and perhaps made more comments about how baseball impacts the economy and family life (he touched on this a bit, but could have done more). I don't know much abo ...more
Tim Timberly
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure who the audience is for this book. Kurlansky repeatedly defines the most basic baseball terms for the reader. I wouldn't say this is a baseball book, but instead a book about San Pedro. Kurlansky went into more detail about local recipes than baseball. I was excited, but this is not the book I hoped it would be.
Roger
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, sports
If you are interested in Caribbean history and enjoy baseball you might get a kick out of this. If neither appeals skip it.

I picked it up for the baseball but found that only mildly informative ( and sometimes annoying, e.g., Marichal's 16 inning effort in "January" not July, seriously?)

The history of Santo Domingo, especially early days (pre Trujillo) was more intriguing.
Steph
A good read for anyone interested in baseball, the history of the Dominican Republic, and the effects of the larger baseball industry on the Dominican Republic (particularly on the youth in San Pedro de Macoris)
Emily
Mar 02, 2020 rated it liked it
This book was really interesting. I felt like there was a lot in there that opened my eyes to things and made me want to learn more.

Unfortunately the writing was not my favorite. I felt like the paragraphs got rambly.
Michael
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Just getting started but I love Mark Kurlansky's books. I find the historical background fascinating, especially the rivalry and parallels between Joaquin Balaguer and Juan Bosch.
Pelican Rapids
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cpb
so interesting--good opportunity for people in very poor country
Paul Pessolano
Feb 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
...more
JBP
Mar 28, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2012
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
Steven Peterson
Mar 04, 2010 rated it liked it
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
...more
Longfellow
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sports

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
...more
Meg Petersen
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
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.
...more
Josh C.
Jan 10, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-gone
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
...more
Tim Hoiland
Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: latin-america, sports
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
...more
Sarah
Apr 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
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
Bookmarks Magazine
Aug 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: sept-oct-2010
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
Dale
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 reade
...more
Linda
Apr 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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Mark Kurlansky has written, edited, or contributed to twenty books, which have been translated into twenty-five languages and won numerous prizes. His previous books Cod, Salt, 1968, and The Food of a Younger Land were all New York Times best-sellers.

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