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For Love of the Game Mass Market Paperback – International Edition, September 7, 1999

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st Ballantine Books Ed edition (September 7, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345408918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345408914
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,139,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Serious sports novels often fall through the literary cracks simply because of the arena they play in. Michael Shaara earned his battle stripes--and a Pulitzer Prize--for The Killer Angels, a fictional resurrection of the Battle of Gettysburg, as serious a subject as a writer can confront. Yet, it's no more profound, in the end, than the personal dilemmas protagonist Billy Chapel faces in this, Shaara's final novel, found stashed in a desk after his death and published posthumously.

A certain Hall of Famer, Chapel is a major-league anomaly, a contemporary throwback to another sporting era. He's pitched 17 stellar seasons for the same club, and his love of the game has remained paramount; neither money nor fame has been his motivation. But on the single day this story takes place, he finds himself in crisis. At the crossroads of his life, his career, and his future, he must make the hard choices that will define the direction of the rest of his life. It's the end of the season, his team's out of contention, there's a rumor he may have been traded, and the woman he can't fully acknowledge that he loves announces she's leaving him. It is, as he tells himself, "Time to grow up, Daydreamer." Still, he dreams, but he also acts. As Billy takes the mound for his final start of the year--and maybe forever--we enter his stream of consciousness, and rush with him over the sometimes treacherous rapids of what has preceded this moment, and what may come. Amazingly, though his mind seems to wander through time, his concentration is fierce. Pitch by pitch, inning by inning, he remains focused, honoring his job and his legacy as he pitches a masterpiece of mythic proportion, ultimately leaving the field more a man than when he took it. Using baseball to sound the depths of human experience, Shaara delivers a masterpiece, as well. --Jeff Silverman --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Reading this posthumously published baseball novel is best compared to watching a gifted young player whose promise slowly fades with every strikeout and weak groundball, despite occasional flashes of potential. Shaara, who won a Pulitzer in 1975 for The Killer Angels , died just after the book was finished, and one feels he might have liked to give it a rewrite. Just before the last game of the season, star pitcher Billy Chapel, a veteran of 17 years in the major leagues, discovers that his team plans to trade him. Moreover, he learns that his New York editor/girlfriend has inexplicably ended their romance--leaving him adrift and the reader more than a little indifferent. The love affair, seen in flashbacks (notably a scene in which they achieve congress in a small airplane), must compete with an unhealthy number of baseball cliches and a series of featureless characters; even Billy, whose thoughts we share, seems a blank. The book does come to life, fittingly enough, as Chapel takes the mound for his final and greatest game. Shaara succeeds in conveying the extraordinary physical and psychological demands of the professional game as well as the dizzying pleasures of its triumphs. But even the account of Chapel's greatest victory is marred by a trite ending. While flawed, however, this is a noteworthy attempt to capture the simultaneous loss of a life's love and a life's obsession.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

With the release of a newly discovered unpublished novel--The Rebel in Autumn--and the ebook releases of his three classic backlist titles: his first novel, The Broken Place; his science fiction novel, The Herald; and his beloved baseball novel, For Love of the Game; and the upcoming ebook publication of nearly 50 short stories, the works of Michael Shaara stand poised to take their place in America's literary pantheon. While his Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Killer Angels has sold millions of copies, and For Love of the Game was made into a movie that seems to be constantly on TV, his other works remain virtually unknown. Twenty-five years after his death, Michael Shaara is on the verge of being rediscovered as the versatile, talented man of letters that he was.

Michael Shaara was born in 1928 in Jersey City, N.J., the son of Michael Joseph Shaara, Sr., an Italian immigrant and union organizer, and Allene (Maxwell) Shaara. He married Helen Elizabeth Krumwiede in 1950 (marriage which ended in 1980), and had two children: Jeffrey and Lila Elise. Shaara graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in 1951, and continued with graduate studies at Columbia University (1952-53) and University of Vermont (1953-54). He knew in college that he wanted to write for a living, and his short story career began in the 1950s, selling mainly science fiction and fantasy stories to the pulps fiction magazines as well as to Cosmopolitan, Galaxy, Fantastic Universe, Playboy, Redbook and the Saturday Evening Post, winning several awards. Shaara's themes reflected his times and dealt with everyday events, as well as with aliens, and the devastation of complete cities from nuclear disasters. In 1959, Shaara was hired as an instructor of English at Florida State University, and by 1968, he had risen to the position of Associate Professor.

Michael Shaara was teaching creative writing at Florida State University while writing his first novel, The Broken Place. Shaara had worked numerous odd jobs before becoming a teacher, including time spent as a merchant seaman and police officer. Under contract to deliver The Broken Place, the stress of the writing and teaching a full course load caused him to have a serious, nearly fatal heart attack. He was even pronounced dead while the ER doctors attempted to revive him. This near-death experience no doubt colored his writing of The Broken Place, as did his army experience (a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne during peace time), his amateur boxing career, and his marriage to his college sweetheart, Helen Elizabeth Krumwiede, the model for Lise Hoffman. The Broken Place was published to great literary acclaim--Shaara was often compared to Ernest Hemingway in the reviews--but few sales.

His second novel, The Rebel In Autumn, was based on an event at Florida State. Rebel was written during the campus protests of the late 1960s and is set in 1969. His agent began shopping the book in 1970, just a few short months before the Ohio National Guard shot into a crowd of student protesters at Kent State University, killing four, in an eerie echo of Rebel's climactic scene. And so the book never saw the light of day, although it is a beautifully written and artfully crafted novel, perhaps the equal of his next novel, The Killer Angels.

In 1972, while teaching an FSU abroad program in Italy, Shaara had a devastating motorcycle accident, leaving him unconscious for weeks. He suffered from a severe brain injury, and Shaara later said that his eyes were not "working together" and that he could not read very much. Shaara also had difficulty with both speech and thought patterns. Emotionally, he suffered from bouts of depression.

Shaara won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1975 for The Killer Angels, his second published novel, a brilliant portrayal of the Battle of Gettysburg. But even that was a struggle. It took Shaara years to research the book, even enlisting his then teenage son Jeff to crawl around under the brush at Gettysburg in order to find long-covered up markers. The Killer Angels was rejected by fifteen publishers before the small, independent, and long defunct David McKay Company purchased the manuscript. The Killer Angels was another critical success and commercial flop, as the public wasn't interested in war stories in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. It wasn't until five years after Shaara's death that The Killer Angels hit the bestseller lists, climbing all the way to #1 on The New York Times list.

It would be seven years before Shaara would publish another novel. The Herald came out in 1981 and hearkened back to Shaara's early career writing science fiction for magazines. The Herald is a very dark post-apocalyptic story, perhaps related to Shaara's continuing financial failures as a writer. The glimmer of hope at the end of the novel speaks to the spark that lurked beneath Shaara's misanthropic outlook. While it garnered some positive reviews, it was clear that The Herald was not going to find commercial success either.

A second heart attack killed Shaara in 1988 at the age of 59.

Shaara's first financially successful novel was published posthumously--For Love of the Game. The beloved baseball novel was quickly snapped up by the movies and made into a film with Kevin Costner playing the lead. But before Game came the movie "Gettysburg" directed by Ron Maxwell, financed by Ted Turner. Starring Martin Sheen as Robert E. Lee and Jeff Daniels as Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Sam Elliot and Tom Berenger among others. The movie was a hit, and turned the forgotten novel behind it--The Killer Angels--into a huge success. It is now required reading at many schools, including West Point, and is generally considered one of the greatest Civil War novels ever written.

With the publication of The Rebel in Autumn, and the release of The Broken Place, The Herald and For Love of the Game as ebooks, all the Shaara novels will now be available for the first time. The publication of Rebel is a major literary event--how often does a lost manuscript from a Pulitzer Prize winning author turn up...43 years after it was written and 25 years after its author's death?

Michael Shaara's son, Jeff Shaara, has taken up his father's mantle of writing historical fiction, writing bestselling novels of the Civil War, Mexican War, WWI and WWII, enjoying commercial success in his lifetime the way his father was never able to. Michael Shaara's daughter, Lila, also published two novels.

The Michael Shaara papers today reside at the Bienes Museum at the Broward County Public Library in Florida.

Customer Reviews

It's a bit shallow and predictable in its plot.
Roger Long
The Tigers season comes down to a final game against a must win Yankee team .
The movie is one of his favorite baseball films of all time.
Kristin A. Flores

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By J. Mullin on November 7, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book, found in manuscript form among the author's papers after his death, is like an ode to the purity of the game of baseball. The protagonist, Billy Chapel, is a throwback to the old glory days of the sport, when players spent their whole careers with one team, and had annual meetings with the team owner to iron out next year's contract.
Chapel is about to take the mound at the end of his 17th big-league season, for a losing team, playing before 80,000 fans in Yankee Stadium (must have been the old, larger House that Ruth built) against a team desperately needing the win for a playoff berth. Amidst personal crisis (Chapel hears a rumor that he's been traded, and his girlfriend is destined to marry another), he tries to block out everything and go out in style, giving it all he's got for one majestic, final game.
The book is written like an internal monologue, and especially in between innings Chapel reminisces about childhood, about his chance encounter with the beautiful Carol and their amorous adventures together, and about his departed parents. The scene of Billy pretending to sleep in the backseat of his folks' car, while they marvel at his talent and discuss how special he is, was especially moving. Chapel is so introspective that he is essentially roused out of his reverie to take the mound each inning by his catcher and best friend Gus.
I liked the interplay between the baseball game and the dream-like flashbacks, although readers should understand that this is more than just a novel about baseball. Themes such as solitude, grace under pressure, camaraderie between the pitcher and catcher, and the recognition that Billy is an aging athlete playing what could be his last game are all explored in moving detail.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Stefan Herpel on August 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this novel for the first time two months ago. I am difficult to please, and I find most "serious" contemporary fiction mediocre or worse. "For Love of the Game" was outstanding in almost every respect, and reminded me of the joys of reading great fiction.
There are many things that truly impressed me about this novel: the compact, but rich telling of the two stories in the book -- the aging ballplayer's last game and his breakup with his girlfriend of four years; the compelling descriptions of the ballplayer's inner thoughts as the game progresses; the riveting description of the final play of the game; and finally, the moving end to the story.
This short novel is far more than a book for sports fans -- it is truly a work of art.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ramona Honan on February 13, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Shutting out everything, concentrating on that one goal, time and time again. Why? All for the love of the game.
This little gem of a book was found by the author's son and published posthumously. Though it is no Gettysburg, it is a wonderful book from an author who left us too early before we got a chance to know him.
Billy Chapel is an aging major league baseball who once knew the pinnacle of greatness. But age has taken over, and he is on the verge of being put out to pasture--or as rumors roam--being traded. He is pitching his last game of the season, and as he pitches he ruminates over his life over a stream of conscienceless of thought. He knows it is the end of his career, but he is not going without a flash and begins to pitch the best game of his life. As he pitches, he begins to think back on his life, but as he does so he stays focus on the game--the perfect game. Why? For the love of the game.
There are no simple answers to his life. Nothing but memories, the future, and the love of the game.
A perfect little book from a great author.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Liuco on June 8, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As a rule, I generally avoid contemporary books which focus on too narrow a subject (see Tom Clancy, Robin Cook) because I can't stand how the technical subject becomes the focus of the book instead of mere table dressing. In reading For Love of the Game, I was apprehensive because I'm no real fan of baseball. But, to my delight, the game is not "about" baseball. It's about a man, a success by any measure, struggling with what he has really accomplished and what he can look foward to after being told that he is no longer wanted by the team that he has loyally served for so many years. Shaara does a good job of melding several different memories into a coherent concious and the reader, in the end, gains not only perspective into the main character, Billy Chaple, but also into himself.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Joel Bittle on January 3, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book, published after the death of Pulitzer Prize winner Shaara, was not the final draft the author had in mind. What we have is a stream of thought and action story about getting old and yearning for the opportunities of our youth. Hemingway's Santiago was faced with 84 days without catching a fish. Shaara's pitcher is faced with the same type of problem and approaches it with the same intensity - all of his life has led to this moment. Shaara's message to the reader is that each moment is a culmination of our experiences and "growing up" is realizing that.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Oliver on June 8, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sports fiction is the sort of stuff that makes most literary buffs shudder with horror, much along the lines of romance novels and crime stories. However, Michael Shaara is able to tell a story that is more about one man's pride, doubts, and affections in the framework of nine perfect innings.
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