The Ins and Outs of Inside Baseball by Warren Wilbur Mooch: a review

Not sure who the intended audience was for this book. It would seem to be for an advanced (young) ballplayer or a high school coach, but I have some difficulty thinking either group would find much of it new, though virtually anyone would likely find something they didn’t already know.

Modern analysis has rendered some, but hardly all, of the study obsolete, but the tactical discussions hold up. All-in-all, Mouch gets most things right, and offers generally good advice. But his analysis underestimates the cost of unsuccessful bunts, and overestimates the risks of the hit-and-run. But give the guy a break; the book dates from 80 years back.

But the book(let)’s just deadly dull. Difficult to recommend.

Revision History:

Lewis Cass by Andrew McLaughlin: a review

A painful read; the author’s low opinions of almost everyone not named Lewis Cass overwhelm any value from his research. The early French settlers, according to this book, were incompetent and lazy, and didn’t understand democracy. The British who succeeded them were devious and untrustworthy. All of America’s subsequent Indian problems were provoked by foreign powers.

General Hull–well, he gets Hull right. Hull was incompetent, and he demonstrates that in detail. But even here the author’s text is unnecessarily biased.

Gave up after about 60 pages.

Revision History:

Shadow of Victory by David Weber: a review

Too long. Mostly backstory for other novels we all read several years ago and from which we have forgotten key details. And some of the author’s mannerisms get to be annoying when they’re repeated this often–describing characters mostly by their height, for instance, and far too many sayings that originated in the dark ages on Old Earth.

That said, there’s an actual main-thread story here that’s of some interest, though it’s both confusing and technically unresolved at the end. And there’s a perfectly typical David Weber space battle, presented mostly from the command post of the losing side. Moreover, if you actually want all this backstory–well, here it is. But there’s not much here that anyone really needed.

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Bean Blossom by Thomas A. Adler: a review

An absolutely delightful book. Tells the history of the Bean Blossom park well, with many interesting anecdotes. Adler makes the strengths and weaknesses of the successive owners and managers clear. The book necessarily has an emphasis on the Monroe family, since they owned the park for most of its existence, but the book’s about the park and the festivals rather than Bill, Birch, and James.

The owners, of course, are not the only characters. The book contains sketches of many musicians and bands, and the occasional fan. While most of these are fairly perfunctory, they seem reasonably accurate for the players and groups I’m familiar with.

But the best parts are the author’s explorations and explications of the temporary, recurring communities that are annually (re)built at bluegrass festivals. He captures the culture well.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and can heartily recommend it.

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Alexander Cartwright by Monica Nucciarone: a short review

A pretty much straightforward biography, very well done, with the bulk of the baseball content in what amounts to an appendix. The overall general conclusion is that Cartwright was an important early American settler in Hawaii; the baseball conclusion is that he was indeed a pioneer, though not exactly the pioneer we’ve been led to believe.

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The Art of Detection by Laurie R King: a review

I spent a year stationed at Fort Baker, so much of the story takes place on familiar terrain; every now and then there was be an “I remember that” moment while I read. On the other hand, there’s a factual error in the embedded “short story”–Fort Cronkhite didn’t exist until 1937–that annoys me. It’s hard to think most readers would care, though.

But gosh this one’s fun, if a bit odd. I’m gonna miss Kate Martinelli and her friends.

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