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Emperors and Idiots: The Hundred Year Rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox, From the Very Beginning to the End of the Curse Hardcover – March 15, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The C-word. Curse. Spell. Hex. However you say it, from 1918-the infamous year the Boston Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to their southern rivals-until the 2004 playoffs, the curse brought the Red Sox Nation to its knees and supplied New York Yankees fans with an unswerving level of confidence. For 86 years, the Curse of the Bambino fell upon Boston, blocking the plate on their slide into World Series success. Hundreds of heated games packed those decades, but few seasons compare to those of 2003 and 2004, when the Sox came this close to crushing the curse and, against all odds, not only crushed it, but knocked it out of the park. Vaccaro, a senior sports columnist for the New York Post, recounts those two most recent seasons while peppering his storytelling with colorful anecdotes from the ghosts of Red Sox-Yankees past-from Williams-DiMaggio to Jeter-Garciaparra. Few of today's fans know how truly deep the most heated rivalry in sports cuts (yes, even the most fervid fan can learn something here) or how thick the roster of athletes, coaches and fans involved in it flows. The author gives equal time to the players and their fans, going grassroots and seeking out the most dedicated followers to best illustrate the highlights of those seasons, and the emotions that accompanied each moment. Remembers Sox fan Mike Carey: "I was more nervous for game seven than I was for my wedding or the birth of my daughter." But by the end of that game, the curse was broken.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The curse is over, and the Red Sox have won the World Series: let the books begin. This one focuses on Boston's rivalry with the Yankees. Vaccaro, sports columnist for the New York Post, has written a lively and actually quite marvelous accounting of the history of the Boston-New York rivalry, infused with his enthusiasm for the game. There's no trashing, gratuitous or otherwise, just an evenhanded account of a century of baseball, as he deftly weaves the history of many encounters between the pinstripes and the Bostons in and around the story of the 2003 and 2004 seasons. The parallels between those two playoffs are especially well done, as are the vivid quotes with which he begins each chapter. Even the hoary, oft-told tale of 1978 is handled with freshness and vigor. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (March 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385513542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385513548
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,984,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Thomas D. Missel on April 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Invariably, we had to be bludgeoned with an onslaught of Red Sox-Yankees books after the "Greatest Comeback in Sports History." It seems like a dozen or more books have hit the shelves since The Curse was broken, but most were rushed so hurriedly to market to capitalize on demand, that almost none are anything more than time-worn retreads of stories we already knew - or worse, Red Sox fans/authors whose objectivity is questionable at best. But Vaccaro's book was set in motion long before The Babe rolled over in his grave. It's clearly a book two years in the works, since Aaron "Bleeping" Boone's HR, and its exhaustive detail and historical sweep turn over stones even the most rabid Yanks' and Sox' fans had likely never noticed before. For fans of both teams who have a passionate appreciation for the scope of the greatest rivalry in sports, this is an absolute must-read. Forget sports; this is one of the most thorough and insightful history books I've ever read.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Nick Cusano on March 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Mike Vaccaro brings to sportswriting something most of his statistical, fanatical, factoid spewing brethern, at it's very core, is about the people behind the numbers. Thats what makes this book so much more interesting than all of the other Red Sox-Yankee history books. This book weaves together such a poetic colorful narrative of quotes, emotions and stories from the all the players involved right down to the dihard fan in the last row of bleacher seats. We all know how the story ends, but Vaccaro takes us on that crazy ride one more time. This time we see it and feel it from all sides.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Gerard Triano on August 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the better books about baseball I've read. Mike Vaccaro is one of the top sports columnists in the country and he makes a very good transition to book author. The interweaving

of history and the present is well done and kept me interested throughout. Recommended for fans of either team. Entertaining and informative.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Justin Neill on July 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
For all the criticism I've heard about this book being yet another in a steady stream of noise about the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry over the past three years, I can confidently say that isn't true; this is a book about the past 102 years in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. The dramatic story of 2003 and 2004 is interspersed with stories from 1904, 1919, 1941, 1946, 1949, 1977, and 1978, all well told and well researched.

The main negatives I saw in the book were a slightly overdramatic prose style (he uses a lot more words than necessary, and certainly tends to overstate things) and some factual errors (for example: he states the Pedro threatened to hit Posada in the head during Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, which was an inaccuracy stated by Tim McCarver on the air but later proven inaccurate). Still, for any fan of either side of the rivalry, even those who have been around a while, I recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback
Over the years, there has been enough prose written about the rivalry between baseball's New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox to fill volumes upon volumes. However, in "Emperors and Idiots", Mike Vaccaro is able to keep the material fresh and interesting by narrowing his focus to just the Yanks and Sox.

For example, most takes of this rivalry include a focus on the Red Sox being "cursed" and the Yankees winning all their titles in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. This book, though, only touches on the games actually played between the two warring clubs (e.g. I don't believe Bill Buckner is discussed at all in the text, besides in a passing reference). Whether it is the beginning of the rivalry in 1904 (with the New York Highlanders playing the Boston Beaneaters), the heated games of the late 1940s and mid-70s, or the jump-start in 2003-2004, Vaccaro's ability to keep his focus on just the two teams led to the unearthing of some information that was new to me (or at least I hadn't remembered in a very long time).

Of course, "Emperors and Idiots" spends the requisite time focusing on the '03 and '04 seasons and playoffs, which is a topic that can be read over and over by baseball fans and never really get old or stale. Sure, there is some talk of "ghosts" and "curses" and such things, but they play second-fiddle to what the book really tries to do: Try to understand the New York/Boston rivalry from the perspective of the fans, the front offices, and the players.

Until reading this book, the co-authored text "Faithful" (Stephen King and Stewart O'Nan) was what I considered to be the authority on this subject...but that really only told the story from the die-hard Sox fan's perspective. This book gives equal time to each side in its quest to try and understand why the rivalry is perhaps the greatest in the history of sports.
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Format: Hardcover
Enjoyed listening to EMPERORS AND IDIOTS by Mike Vaccaro,

the story of the 100 year Yankee-Red Sox rivalry . . . it emphasized

the very exciting races in both 2003 and 2004, while also interspersing

tales from 1904, 1919, 1941, 1946, 1949, 1977, and 1978 . . . and

that leads to my only criticism of the book; i.e., it was a bit

choppy . . . personally, I would have preferred a more linear approach.

Yet I quibble . . . what a thrill to relive many of the seasons that I

personally followed . . . (NOT the ones prior to 1977!) . . . and even

then, I enjoyed hearing about DiMaggio and Williams, and the fact

that they almost got traded for each other . . . also, it was fun

getting to again hear names from my not-so-distant past, including

Mantle, Maris, Fisk, Yastremski, Pinella, Munson, Jackson and taking me

through the present era of Martinez, Jeter, Damon, and Rivera.

The CD version had an added bonus: interviews with Bill "Spaceman"

Lee and Yogi Berra, two players who had actually experienced the

rivalry . . . to quote Berra, "You really have to go through it to

know what it was like to go through it."

This book gave me a feel for just that . . . fans of either team--or

sports, in general--will like EMPERORS AND IDIOTS.
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