A lot of great baseball books coming out this summer. I have several on my reading list. I won’t say I have been a Cubs fan all my life, but I can claim to bleed Cubbie blue for at least the last 35 years. I was awake for the last out of the World Series last year and there has never been another moment in sports that has filled me with such pure emotion. The greatest baseball story of all time told by one its best sportwriters. I will be re-reading this book for many years to come. (GoodReads review.)
I’m on page 34 of 304 of Smart Baseball: Yes, another Baseball book. But this one is about the statistics of the game, both old and new. It is giving me some ideas for a data science experiment. And we all know I can use some practice on my Big Data and Data Science. Here is the GoodReads Review.
An actual novel for a change… Kind of. It is a novel of the Korean War from Jeff Shaara. First, I am a huge fan of Jeff Shaara and his father, Michael wrote one of my favorite novels on Gettysburg and the Civil War, “The Killer Angels”. Second, I have never really researched the Korean War before, so this will be a nice change of pace on two fronts. Here is the GoodReads Review. The master of military historical fiction turns his discerning eye to the Korean War in this riveting new novel, which tells the dramatic story of the Americans and the Chinese who squared off in one of the deadliest campaigns in the annals of combat: the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, also known as Frozen Chosin.
When Jefferson Davis became president of the Confederacy, his wife, Varina Howell Davis, reluctantly became the First Lady. For this highly intelligent, acutely observant woman, loyalty did not come easily: she spent long years struggling to reconcile her societal duties to her personal beliefs. During the war she nursed Union prisoners and secretly corresponded with friends in the North. Though she publicly supported the South, her term as First Lady was plagued by rumors of her disaffection. (Review from GoodReads.)
I have read many books on the Founding Fathers and the History of America. I picked up this book to gain insights from a different perspective. More specifically, Herstory of America. In that aspect the book was exactly that for which I was looking. This books has tales of 40 women, some of whom I had never heard of before, that helped shape the United States of America. The author likes to ramble on about a specific point long after the point of understanding.
Secret Service agent Clint Hill brings history intimately and vividly to life as he reflects on his seventeen years protecting the most powerful office in the nation. Hill walked alongside Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and Gerald R. Ford, seeing them through a long, tumultuous era—the Cold War; the Cuban Missile Crisis; the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy; the Vietnam War; Watergate; and the resignations of Spiro Agnew and Richard M. Nixon. (Review from GoodReads.)
Built in 1884, the New York apartment building named the Dakota has had an entertaining social history and has been home to the rich and trendy who have lived there. I mainly know it has the place of John Lennon’s murder, which led me to pick up the book in the first place.
In this major new history of the Civil War, Bruce Levine tells the riveting story of how that conflict upended the economic, political, and social life of the old South, utterly destroying the Confederacy and the society it represented and defended. Told through the words of the people who lived it, The Fall of the House of Dixie illuminates the way a war undertaken to preserve the status quo became a second American Revolution whose impact on the country was as strong and lasting as that of our first. (Review is Reprinted from GoodReads.)
Everything I was expecting from this collection of ancient stories retold and edited by the filter of Neil Gaiman’s mind. It is a smaller book, but a time-consuming read. This is not fiction, or what we typically see from Neil Gaiman. But rather a fragmennted collection of mythology to assist us in learning from what can still be discovered of Norse Mythology.
Moving beyond the concept of “That’s how we’ve always done it” is not an easy task. And there are not many areas in today’s popular culture that will hold on to the concept of tradition more than baseball. Brian Kenny, of the MLB Network, is one of those analysts in sports media who is unwilling to wait. Using statistical analysis to move past the basic back-of-the-baseball-card numbers has allowed us to look beyond tradition and to interpret data in such a way as to enhance our understanding and our baseball experience.
I first read this book when it was realeased in 2012 on the 20th anniversary of the greatest sports team ever assembled. It was exciting to revist the players from the golden era of basketball when they were at their peak or near peak. This is the team that won games by an average of 44 points on the way to the 1992 Olympic Gold medal. It was the perfect time and place for this team to be created and would not or could not happen today.
Every year when they announce the new inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame I will get caught up in the debate on who should or should not be honored with an entry into Cooperstown. Well, apparently, I am not the only one. Matthew Wood has created his own rankings of all the Hall of Fame players in an Excel spreadsheet. I’m an old school baseball fan and would probably cut 30 players out of the Hall of Fame, especially all those voted in on the Veterans Committee’s of the 1970’s. But, Mr. Wood is much kinder and just suggests that some players are more deserving than others. This is an excellent book to take a journey through the history of professinal baseball and its players.
This is the story behind the case that gave power to the Supreme Court and making it an equal part of the government beside both the Legislative and Executive branches. Marbury v. Madison set the precedent of “judicial review”, but also established the United States as a nation of laws. I completely enjoyed reading this book when it was published in 2009. I felt it was time to re-visit this book of history that could find a home in the political thriller section of your local library.
Read the words of our first President as he leaves office with a warning that rings true today. George Washington’s Farewell Address was a prophetic letter from a “parting friend” to his fellow citizens about the forces he feared could destroy our democracy: hyper-partisanship, excessive debt, and foreign wars. Most were stunned as the President announced he would not be seeking re-election for a third term, but even more so when Washington actually did step down to demonstrate to the world a peaceful transition of power.
I am a fan of David McCullough having read some of his other works, so I am used to the hefty lifting of reading one of his 992 page books. I’ve always had an interest in the political career of Harry Truman as few presidents have made as many pivotal decisions or faced the number of history-changing events. I was less interested in the first part of the book about not only his early life, but of his ancestors as well. But once he reaches the public stage, this book tells the tale of a truly historic life. The final months of World War II, the decision to drop two atomic weapons, the Potsdam conference, the Marshall Plan, the creation of Israel, the Berlin Airlift, and the Korean War. I am sure I left something out of all these issues that Truman faced during his presidency. If you can dig through the weeds of the first half of the book, the second half is worth the work.
This was less about the decisions of Jefferson, but the very messy birth of the American Navy and Marines. I had always wondered what the phrase, “To the shores of Tripoli” meant in the Marine’s Hymn and this is a decent account of the First Barbary War. I do have an issue with some of the revisionist bias from one of the authors. Events from 200 years ago should not be brushed with the paint of current events. I had been very excited to read this book and it was worth the time for a history lover who as the ability of critical thought.
This year I thought I would start blogging about the non-technical books that I am reading in my spare time. You will probably see a lot of books on history, baseball, and science fiction. The first book is one that has been on my bookshelf for a very long time that I finally got around to reading. An excellent alternate history on when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Japan… or should I say did not drop it. A thunderstorm damages one of only two atomic weapons in the American arsenal. It will take time to rebuild it and there are those who are second guessing whether it would be good for humanity to unleash such a violent weapon. Instead, Truman decided to launch an invasion of Japan instead. Using actual historical documents, Alfred Coppel pieces together the American offensive as well as how Japan would have defended itself if this had been the actual history of the end of the second World War.