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Banzai Babe Ruth: Baseball, Espionage, and Assassination during the 1934 Tour of Japan Hardcover – March 1, 2012


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Banzai Babe Ruth: Baseball, Espionage, and Assassination during the 1934 Tour of Japan + Wally Yonamine: The Man Who Changed Japanese Baseball
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Univ of Nebraska Pr (March 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803229844
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803229846
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #591,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Banzai Babe deserves a spot in any baseball (or Japan) lover's library."—Robert Whiting, Wall Street Journal
(Robert Whiting Wall Street Journal 2012-04-13)

"Fitts, a master at depicting all of the key elements in prewar Japanese social and political life, gives the reader valuable insights into the influential moderates trying to hold the line against the army, as well as the American ballplayers taking a victory lap in front of adoring foreign fans. This book is a powerful snapshot of men from two contrasting cultures attempting to stop a slide into aggression."—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly 2012-01-30)

"This dramatic story, equal parts baseball and history, should appeal to anyone interested in Japanese cultural and political history and the sports-politics nexus."—Library Journal
(Library Journal)

"The history lessons in Banzai Babe Ruth go well beyond merely chronicling the games and the players. This is a well-researched, fascinatingly told tale of two super powers whose shared passion for baseball wasn't enough to maintain the peace, though it did help to restore it in the years following World War II."—James Bailey, Baseball America
(James Bailey Baseball America)

"Banzai Babe Ruth reads like a multi-stranded mystery novel . . . . Fitts has an eye for the quirky details that make historical writing vivid."—Michael R. Stevens, Books & Culture
(Michael R. Stevens Books & Culture)

"Banzai Babe Ruth is far more than just a sports story. . . . No one could have told this incredible story better than Robert K. Fitts."—ForeWord Reviews
(ForeWord Reviews)

About the Author

Robert K. Fitts graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and received a PhD from Brown University. Originally trained as an archeologist of colonial America, Fitts left that field to focus on his passion, Japanese baseball. He is also the author of Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral History of the Game and Wally Yonamine: The Man Who Changed Japanese Baseball (Nebraska, 2008).

More About the Author

Born in Philadelphia, Robert K. Fitts graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Brown University. As an archaeologist, Fitts specialized in slavery in eighteen-century New England and in Victorian New York City, publishing eight academic papers in peer-reviewed journals.

In 2000, Fitts left archaeology to write about the history of Japanese Baseball. His articles have appeared in The National Pastime, Baseball Research Journal, Journal of American Culture, Tuff Stuff and on MLB.com. His first book, Remembering Japanese Baseball won the 2005 Society of American Baseball Research & The Sporting News Award for Best Baseball Research. His second book, Wally Yonamine: The Man who Changed Japanese Baseball, focuses on the extraordinarily life of Wally Yonamine, the first Japanese-American to play for an NFL franchise and the first American to join professional baseball in Japan after WW2. Look for his next book, Banzai Babe Ruth, the story of the 1934 tour of Japan, in early 2012.

For more information visit RobFitts.com

Customer Reviews

A good one to read and learn history without working too hard.
Yuriko Gamo Romer
This book hits the sweet spot, well written, a bunch of different story lines all weaved into a thoroughly well-written book.
Gary
The book is full of colorful characters, including baseball greats Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Connie Mack.
daphnesmom

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Gary on January 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've never written a review on amazon.com before, but I wrote my take on this book on a baseball history forum I belong to and thought it should be on here as well...

One of my favorite subjects is 1930's baseball and in particular barnstorming so this book on the 1934 MLB tour to Japan was right down my strike zone. I read countless numbers of baseball books doing research for my own stories and drawings and most of them seem to fall in 2 categories - either they are too pedestrian, edited down to appeal to the broadest common reader - or they are meticulously researched but dry as burnt toast.

This book hits the sweet spot, well written, a bunch of different story lines all weaved into a thoroughly well-written book. Of course the subject matter doesn't hurt. It's 1934 and the Babe is at the end of his career but he's a God in Japan and it's his last hurrah as a player. Connie Mack, leading the expedition, secretly uses the tour as an on-the-job tryout to see if Ruth would be responsible enough to manage the Athletics the following season. The Japanese put together a national all-star team of the country's best players to meet the Americans and so as not to be embarrassed when they play each other - this team forms the nucleus of the famed Tokyo Giants. The culture clash between east and west is vividly described in the players' own recollections and the nationalistic undercurrent in 1930's Japan gives a great background to the coming war with the US and the player's ambivalence to it because of the warm reception the Japanese people gave them. There's Moe Berg, journeyman catcher and future WWII spy who films strategic locations throughout the country. With story lines like this you can't go wrong but, like I said, it isn't a dry balls and strikes sports book, it is extremely well written and the author moves the story along at a nice pace.

If you haven't noticed, I highly recommend this book!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By familytoad on April 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Banzai Baseball is just what this reader needed...a history lesson with humor, little known facts, thorough research and insight to a fascinating time in baseball and in both America and Japan!
Rob Fitts is the foremost authority on Japanese baseball...but this books starts him down the path to become an authority on baseball history, period.
You'll enjoy this from cover to cover if you love baseball and history. I'm guessing you already do, to be at this review section, but you will NOT be disappointed.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By daphnesmom on February 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
An outstanding contribution to baseball history. The author does a great job of bringing the 1934 All Star tour of Japan to life. The book is full of colorful characters, including baseball greats Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Connie Mack. The tour is vividly described and clearly places into the context of larger events in Japan. Well-written, deeply researched, and very engaging.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By dr johnson on January 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thought this was a fair book and I learned from it, but it really felt in places that the author was trying to get more out of the story than was there. The narrative of the Japanese American kid who played with the Japanese all-stars but who really had his heart set on playing in the big leagues is a good example of this. Fitts kept returing to this kid in the book, that you almost expected him to be a star at the end and get a try-out with the Yankees. But in fact he was one of the worst performing of the Japanese "stars" during the tour. I think he ended up hitting .111 or somthing and that was the end of the story. The assassination plot that was concurrent with the tour was also over-dramaticized I felt.

Overall, it was OK and, as I said I learned some interesting facts, but neverthelss a disappointment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cathy Adams-Bomar on September 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was living in Japan and enjoying the avid baseball fans when I stumbled upon this book. It was a great read, with detailed history of some of the more obscure details of pre-professional baseball in Japan.
While it would have been wonderful if this game could have brought our two nations together and avoided WWII, today as more countries step to the plate, we begin to see much more inclusion.
In Japan today baseball is alive and well, Banzai!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Laurence on July 6, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This gem was a veritable treasure chest of facts that one hooked on baseball will absolutely fall in love with!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Snelling on April 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Robert Fitts does a fantastic job of not only covering a too often underreported slice of baseball history, the 1934 tour of Japan by Babe Ruth, Lefty O'Doul and other Major League All-Stars, but also of the political intrigue going on in Japan at the time. He is able to blend these two facets into a fascinating read, and one that provides much greater insight into Ruth (who comes off as a much smarter player than he is often given credit for), O'Doul (whose friendship with Sotaro Suzuki and love of the Japanese culture brought him back to Japan time and time again) and Moe Berg, the wannabe spy who eventually became one, at least to a certain degree, because of the film he took during the trip. Provides a much greater understanding of what went on, both before and after the trip. Highly recommended.
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