Archive for the tag 'biography'

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Enemies, a Love Story by Josh Schollmeyer: a short review

Nicely done; Schollmeyer’s got a good sense of how to assemble a story from what seem to be interview responses. Not really a history of the show; more a portrait of the relationship, and how that affected the show.

Sparky and Me by Daniel Ewald: a short review

Besides the Life Lessons, the book contains a quite a bit of biographical material, and a surprising amount of information and commentary about Sparky’s managerial methods. Sparky was more a motivator and molder than a tactician, as anyone who followed his teams knows. Ewald witnessed that during Anderson’s Tiger years, and heard many tales about how he worked with the Cincinnati team’s egos.

The Autobiography of Theodore Edgar Potter: a review

Potter was a competent writer and a gifted story-teller. His memoir is largely concerned with the years from 1852 to 1865, during which the author joined the California gold rush, took part (after a fashion) in William Walker’s Nicaraguan filibuster, visited New York, New Orleans, and Saint Louis, and took up residence in southern Minnesota. He was a captain in the militia which defended New Ulm during the Dakota War of 1862; later he was a Union officer whose troops participated at the fringe of the Battle of Nashville–mostly they chased, and sometimes caught, partisan guerillas. Some years later he was involved in the apprehension of the Younger brothers gang, again in southern Minnesota.

Bill Veeck by Paul Dickson: a short review

An absolutely terrific biography, obviously well researched and equally well written. Highly recommended, though I’m sure some will disagree, as Veeck remains a controversial figure.

Branch Rickey by Jimmy Breslin

This is an odd book. It’s more a “Scenes from a Life” than a proper biography, and it largely concentrates on Rickey’s efforts to integrate baseball and his relationship with Jackie Robinson. There’s too little about Rickey’s other major impacts on the game, as the development of the minor league farm system is only lightly touched and Rickey’s involvement in the Continental League is only barely mentioned. Nor is there any serious discussion of the way Rickey actually assembled and administered baseball teams.

Computing in the Middle Ages by Severo Ornstein: a review

The author was involved in computing from the mid-fifties to the early eighties, and played fairly important roles in the SAGE, TX-2, and Linc projects, all of which are key to understanding how computing developed. He also was heavily involved in BBN’s pioneering Arpanet efforts, and moved on to Xerox PARC in its prime, where he helped design the first laser printer. So he had a first-hand view of the development of electronic computing in the period between the pioneering efforts and the beginnings of microcomputing. This is a different, quite personal, account of what his computing projects were like, and his assessment of the issues as they looked to the participants during the period.

Thomas Cromwell by J. Patrick Coby: a review

This book’s subtitle is “Machiavellian Statecraft and the English Reformation,” which pretty much sums up the author’s argument. It’s an adequate overview of Cromwell’s life and accomplishments, and does a satisfactory job of presenting alternative interpretations where the facts and interpretations are contested. Be aware that the author’s a political scientist; this book is much more about Cromwell’s politics than a proper biography. If that’s what you’re looking for, this book will fit your purpose.

A Ball Player’s Career by Adrian C Anson: a review

An oddly interesting book. Now, more than a century later, Pop Anson’s remembered mainly for his racism, and because he had approximately 3,000 hits (the total depends on what you count, actually, and in this case it’s fair to debate the margin). In his time, he was considered a formidable player, and an excellent captain (manager), albeit grouchy and rough-edged. Neither is a well-rounded image.

Pitching in a Pinch by Christy Mathewson: a short review

Perhaps the prototype for all “inside baseball” books written since. There’s some interesting stuff in here, but much of what Matty has to say is pretty cliched. Frankly I was hoping for more.

Ed Barrow by Daniel Levitt: a review

While this is primarily a biography, the book features the author’s enormous research effort about the way baseball’s conditions and working rules changed over the course of Barrow’s career. This is important because Barrow was constantly adjusting his work to accommodate those conditions and rules. It’s valuable because I’ve not seen a similar effort by any author.

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