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A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred Hardcover – March 25, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, turns 100 this season. Will, a lifelong Cubs fan originally from downstate Illinois, steps back from politics to indulge his passion for the generally hapless Cubs (last World Series win in 1908). In the context of Wrigley’s centennial, Will offers a rambling, gently amusing history of the team since it moved in. With few triumphs to write about, Will focuses on some of the dominant and/or quirky personalities associated with the team through the years. He has a particular fondness for Ernie Banks, aka Mr. Cub, who performed heroically for some atrocious Cub teams from 1953 through 1971, laying out the case that Banks, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, hasnt lingered in the minds of todays fans the way he should have done. Will also delivers brief but revealing examinations of longtime team owner P. K. Wrigley, players Phil Cavarretta and Hack Wilson, and manager Leo Durocher. Will, who has a Pulitzer for commentary on his mantel as well as a roomful of other awards, is one of the nation’s most visible Cub fans; this ode to the team and its home field will make a very pleasant read for baseball fans in general and Cub fans in particular. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Expect lots of television and other media promotion for this one, tied to various Wrigley Field celebrations. --Wes Lukowsky

Review

Praise for George Will and A Nice Little Place on the North Side

“Fond yet surprisingly hard-hitting…an intelligent, tough little book.” –USA Today

“George Will is as serious about baseball as he is about the Constitution or foreign policy…. A Nice Little Place on the North Side is replete with the amusing trivia that in baseball constitutes lore.”—Wall Street Journal

 “America’s leading poet of baseball” –Chicago Tribune, Printers Row Journal

“George F. Will’s wonderful book A Nice Little Place on the North Side reads like a history of a ballpark, but it’s really a fan’s interrogation of the most harrowing riddle: Why can’t the Cubs win?...[Will is] one of the great baseball writers.” –Commentary

“Will’s bow-tied, button-down prose wears quite well in this, his third insightful book about baseball, after Men at Work and Bunts. His eye for the game remains warm and acute, as do his conservative instincts.” –New York Times Book Review

“George Will is the most elegant of today’s political essayists, and with 'Men at Work,' 'Bunts' and this tribute to Chicago, the ballpark that graces it, and the fans who pack it to root for its hapless team, he can be counted among the best baseball writers to come down the pike…” –The Washington Times

“[Will’s] latest, A Nice Little Place on the North Side, will sit solidly on the bookshelf with his previous baseball classics…. As is always the case with Will, readers are treated to a mix of history, anecdotes, vignettes, cultural analysis, various informative diversions, and much wry humor.”—The American Spectator

“George F. Will is as eloquent on baseball as he is on politics.” –AARP Bulletin

“Required reading” –New York Post
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype; First Edition edition (March 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385349319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385349314
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (259 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
“In baseball, the difference between excellence and mediocrity is usually not the blockbuster signing of this or that free agent. Rather, it is the cumulative effect of management’s attention to scouting, player development, and so on—which—requires time, effort and, always, money. Because Cubs fans fill so many seats no matter what is happening on the field, there is a reduced incentive to pay the expense of organizational excellence.” -- page 136

And that, according to author George Will appears to be the gist of the problem. For baseball fans in the Windy City and for people all across the fruited plain Wrigley Field has become something akin to a shrine. There is a certain mystique about the place that attracts both avid fans and curious tourists, some of whom have little interest in what was once the national pastime. As Wrigley Field turns 100 in 2014 George Will thought it might be an appropriate time to recall its fascinating and sometimes bizarre history. He has scribbled his thoughts into a neat little book he calls “A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred”. This is a book destined to be great summer reading for sports fans, history buffs and general readers alike. Will conjures up a ton of fun facts, interesting tidbits and unforgettable yarns. As a lifetime baseball junkie I must tell you that I had a difficult time putting this one down.

Having been an ardent Cubs fan since 1948 George Will has pretty much seen it all—everything that is except his beloved Cubs playing in a World Series. In “A Nice Little Place on the North Side” Will recalls many of the memorable events and incidents from the sixty plus years he has been following the team.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By John Jorgensen VINE VOICE on January 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What we have here is a light little read about Wrigley Field. Well, sort of; it's really not too well focused. It has many diversions, some of them pleasant and some of them tedious, into such wide-ranging fields as history, economics, psychology, neuroscience, architecture, sociology, and urban planning. (The section on the surprising importance of beer to the formation of the first civilizations comes fairly close to being worth the price of admission in and of itself.)

The problem is, the book is very scattered. It's anecdotal; in addition to the above mentioned digressions, it offers stories by the dozen of memorable Wrigley games, memorable Cubs, memorable opponents, etc etc. I managed to shake a handful of baseball trivia questions loose (Who was the only Major League player who was a contemporary of both Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron? True or false: Major League teams have never combined for fifty runs in a single game.) Still, while190 pages of potpourri is not an unpleasant way to while away a few hours, I had expected more from Will.

There's something of a thesis to the book, one mentioned now and again in desultory fashion. It has to do with the idea that Wrigley Field's unique position as a stadium where the goal of making game day a pleasant experience regardless of the score has led to decade upon decade of leadership with no incentive to improving the team, thus leading to the poor Cubbies' never-ending futility. It's an interesting point, but it's lost in the general structure of a meandering yarn.

An okay baseball book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Krawczak on May 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I regularly read George Will's columns and watch him on the Sunday morning news shows. I've always trusted that his writing would be free of misspellings and typos and I usually learn a new word or two as a bonus. Seeing that he had a book on Wrigley Field coming out this year, I preordered it. As other reviewers have noted, the book is rather thin and it skips around without any apparent rhyme or reason. However, it is pleasant enough and I did pick up a few facts I had not known. My reason for two stars is the numerous inaccuracies that any real Cub fan would recognize. Ernie Banks did not hit 500 home runs while playing shortstop. Harry Caray did not sing the seventh-inning stretch "thousands" of times at Wrigley Field. The Cubs dugout is not on the first-base side at Wrigley. The Cubs were not 36 games under .500 during the first three years of Ricketts family ownership. There are a few others, but c'mon, this is pretty basic stuff here.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Butcher on June 14, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I am a proud Cubs fan. I like to read books about baseball, especially when they are about my beloved Chicago Cubs. And I have enjoyed George F. Will’s baseball writings of the past such as Men at Work. So I thought that A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred would be a huge hit for me in my reading diet. Sadly it was not to be.

Will in A Nice Little Place on the North Side argues that Wrigely Field is part cause and part symptom of the Cubs’ dysfunctional performance. Will discusses the early Cubs, how they moved to Wrigley Field and then chronicles the Cubs history until this 100th birthday of the beloved stadium. He discusses players, key games, economics and more in the context of Cubs’s history.

I do not have much to say about this book so I will make it short. The books feels like one long essay with three page topical building blocks. There are no chapters and just small breaks that let you know that the writer has moved onto a new unrelated and unnamed topic. Though you feel like the thesis makes the book about Wrigley Field itself, there is plenty of discussion around Wrigley Field adjacent topics that only indirectly are about the schedule. And I do not agree with all the topic choices, especially in more modern times. For me one example is the lack of discussion of the Ryne Sandberg game (Ryne Sandberg does not even make the pages of the book) which brought the stadium into a national television audience. Though there is a large discussion of the Bartman Game, and not it’s relationship to the stadium, which Will was in attendance for.

In the end, Will recommends in his pages several great histories of the Chicago Cubs. I would suggest taking his recommendations instead of grabbing this title.

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