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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Insights and Valedictory Thoughts
A. Bartlett Giamatti wrote this book immediately prior to his unexpected death in 1989. It appeared in print posthumously. That he would pen a paen to baseball at the height of the Pete Rose scandal, as his last published work, is ironic. His prose is sublime. The slender volume is a monograph on the nature of the game of baseball. It is timeless because it is not...
Published on May 22, 2000 by Lloyd A. Conway

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lost in Translation
There are two kinds of people in this world, those that absolutely loved the film Lost in Translation and those that said, `What the hell did I just watch?' I myself fall into the latter camp and I couldn't help thinking about that movie while reading this book from Bart Giamatti. It sounds like something that was indeed written by the president of Yale and if it was...
Published on March 28, 2011 by Cujo Wilson


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Insights and Valedictory Thoughts, May 22, 2000
A. Bartlett Giamatti wrote this book immediately prior to his unexpected death in 1989. It appeared in print posthumously. That he would pen a paen to baseball at the height of the Pete Rose scandal, as his last published work, is ironic. His prose is sublime. The slender volume is a monograph on the nature of the game of baseball. It is timeless because it is not tied to temporal events. With little alteration, the book could have been written a hundred years ago, or (I hope) a hundred years hence. The Commissioner of Baseball and former Yale Professor of Renaissance Literature explores the intellectual facination of the game. From the geometry of the diamond to the Homeric nature of the baserunner's struggle to reach home again, Giamatti's story is enlightening as well as entertaining. Insights into the nature of our society flow naturally, given that sport in general should be seen in the context of the civilization that spawns it. One that I found to be especially memorable was on the commonalities of learning that change from generation to generation. Giamatti wrote of how the rising generation would understand the world through a computer screen, even as their progenitors had seen it through books, and of the differences, both great and small, that it would make to the thought patterns of our young. All this against the literally timneless fabric of a game played without a clock. -Lloyd A. Conway
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Insights and Valedictory Thoughts, May 22, 2000
A. Bartlett Giamatti wrote this book immediately prior to his unexpected death in 1989. It appeared in print posthumously. That he would pen a paen to baseball at the height of the Pete Rose scandal, as his last published work, is ironic. His prose is sublime. The slender volume is a monograph on the nature of the game of baseball. It is timeless because it is not tied to temporal events. With little alteration, the book could have been written a hundred years ago, or (I hope) a hundred years hence. The Commissioner of Baseball and former Yale Professor of Renaissance Literature explores the intellectual facination of the game. From the geometry of the diamond to the Homeric nature of the baserunner's struggle to reach home again, Giamatti's story is enlightening as well as entertaining. Insights into the nature of our society flow naturally, given that sport in general should be seen in the context of the civilization that spawns it. One that I found to be especially memorable was on the commonalities of learning that change from generation to generation. Giamatti wrote of how the rising generation would understand the world through a computer screen, even as their progenitors had seen it through books, and of the differences, both great and small, that it would make to the thought patterns of our young. All this against the literally timneless fabric of a game played without a clock. -Lloyd A. Conway
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lost in Translation, March 28, 2011
By 
Cujo Wilson (La Porte, IN United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Take Time for Paradise: Americans and Their Games (Hardcover)
There are two kinds of people in this world, those that absolutely loved the film Lost in Translation and those that said, `What the hell did I just watch?' I myself fall into the latter camp and I couldn't help thinking about that movie while reading this book from Bart Giamatti. It sounds like something that was indeed written by the president of Yale and if it was about baseball I could barely tell. I'm sure there are those that will thoroughly enjoy this work just as those that enjoyed Lost in Translation but clearly this ode to sport was out of my league. I had more fun dissecting John Dryden in a 17th century lit class years ago than I did reading this. I would recommend Thomas Boswell's "Why Time Begins on Opening Day" or Ken Burns baseball documentary instead. I have to say the foreword and afterword by Jon Meacham and Marcus Giamatti respectively were very well written and quite moving, more of what I was expecting from the late Commissioner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Understanding the Soul of America, July 24, 2011
By 
P. Mackey (Hagerstown, MD United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Take Time for Paradise: Americans and Their Games (Hardcover)
My initial reaction to this slim volume was disappointment. I thought, "Is this all there is to say about sports?" The moment I began reading, though, I was entranced. Giamatti's writing is succinct, yet full of meaning as a haiku. In three brief chapters he captures the essence of the role of sports for humankind, its attractions and challenges. To understand sports is to understand the human aspiration for order, freedom and immortality. If to understand sports is to understand humanity, then to understand baseball is to comprehend the soul of America.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who desires a deeper understanding of sports and their role in our lives.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Poetic Celebration of Baseball, Sports, and Cities by Baseball's Most Intellectual Commissioner, February 17, 2007
All men who have served as Commissioner of Baseball--a position more people probably aspire to than aspire to be President of the United States--have a dull sameness in their resumes and their manner of speech compared to the late A. Bartlett Giamatti, who died in 1989 in his rookie season as Commissioner, the only baseball commissioner to be a Renaissance Scholar and President of Yale University.

Giamatti's book is a celebration of baseball's "freedom (for) the promise of an energetic, complex order." "Baseball," Giamtti writes, "fulfills the promise that America made to itself to cherish the individual while recognizing the overarching claims of the group. It sends its players out (around the bases) in order to return again, allowing all the freedom to accomplish great things in a dangerous world. So baseball restates a version of America's promises every time it is played. The playing of the game is a restatement of the promises that we can all be free, that all succeed."

"Sport," Giamatti writes, "contains within itself, as a self-transforming activity, fueld by instinct and intellect alike, the motive for freedom. The very elaboration of sport--it's internal conventions of all kinds, its ceremonies, its endless meshes entangling itself--are for the purposes of training and testing (perhaps by defeating) and rewarding the rousing motion within us to find a moment (or more) of freedom. Freedom is that state where energy and order merge and complexity is purified into a simple coherence, a fitness of parts and purpose and passions that cannot be surpassed and whose goal could only be to be itself.

"If we have known freedom, then we love it; it we love freedom, then we fear, at some level (individually or collectively)its loss. And then we cherish sport. As our forbears did, we remind ourselves through sport of what, here on earth, is our noblest hope. Through sport, we create our daily portion of freedom."

Giamatti's eloquence and unique voice ranges widely over other subjects.
"Human beings made and make cities, and only human beings kill cities, or let them die. We enjoy deluding ourselves in this as in other things. We enjoy believing that there are forces out there completely determining our fate, natural forces--or forces so strong and overwhelming as to be like natural forces--that send cities through organic or biological phases of birth, growth, and decay. We avoid the knowledge that cities are at best works of art, and at worst ungainly artifacts--but never flowers or even weeds--and that we, not some mysterious forces or cosmic biological system, control the creation and life of a city....

"A city is a collection of disparate families who agree to a fiction: they agree to live AS IF they were as close in blood or ties of kinship as in fact they are in physical proximity. Choosing life in an artifact, people agree to live in a state of similitude. A city is a place where ties of proximity, activity and self-interest assume the role of family ties. It is a considerable pact, a city. If a family is an expression of continuity through biology, a city is an expression of continuity through will and imagination--through mental choices making artifice, not through physical reproduction.

"This act of will and imagination, this city, expresses a set of common and continuing needs. These needs are usually expressed as commercial. Cities, we are told, are essentially mediums for commerce--trading, buying, selling, financing. They are centers of negotiation, not simply in all the varieties of commerce, but also of lawmaking and rule-giving--of legislation in all its variety. Cities are centers of negotiations of interests, of competing ideas, of us together against separateness, of me against aloneness of all...entailed at first by work, the work of connecting and assaying, of affiliating and discriminating that markets and legislatures, commerece and courts, traders and advocates carry on....

"The defining characteristic of a city over time is political. Indeed, the word political contains at its root the Greek polis, or city. Politics is the art of making choices and finding agreements in public--or the art of making public choices and agreements. Politics is the ultimate act of negotiation in a city, but it is only relective of the constant activity of the city, as individual, daily choices and agreements and decisions, allowing flowing from the central choice not to live alone but among others, swirl around and make up rambunctious, noisy, restless, demanding, hectic, city life.

"Over millenia, this refinement of negotiation, of balancing private need and public obligation, personal desire and public duty, and keen interests of the one and the many into a common, shared set of agreements--becomes a civilization. That is the public version of what binds us. That state is achieved because city dwellers as individuals or as families or as groups have smoothed the edges of private desire so as to fit, or at least work in, with all the other city dwellers,without undue abrasion, without sharp edges forever picking and wounding, each refining an individual capacity for those thousands of daily, instantaneous negotiations that keep crowded city life from being a constant brawl or ceaseless shoving match....We admire that capacity to proceed, neither impeded nor impeding....

"Many give up...they go to the suburbs, that under-city that is neither urban nor rural, that non-city which is the place of surcease, not of choosing--where energy, to the extent it is desired, is imported but not created; where all decisions are basically private and existence is nonpolitical; where in choosing to give up the stress of endless choosing there is only one choice; to live as if not in a family but rather to live as if alone, and to do so near (that is like-minded, like-colored, and like-employed) families....And when more than some--when many--opt for the suburb, the city begins to die. When those who can make the choice leave, by that choice a city falters because it retains only those who have no choice but stay. Where cities are absorptive and inclusive, suburbs are not. Their impermeability or exclusivity is precisely their allure."

I personally think Giamatti is much too hard on suburbs and suburbanites, but these excerpts give the flavor of the book. Those wanting a book about the day to day mechanics of baseball or other sports should go elsewhere. Those wanting a thoughtful look at the role of baseball in sports, the role of sports in cities and the life of country as a whole, the role of athletes, and the drug culture, and the sports writers, and the fans, should read this book.

The language is poetic, and grandiose. The assertions are one man's only rarely documented opinion. But, in reading this book, one will find visions, insights, and profundity about American life far more on the order of Alexis deToqueville than on the order of your favorite sportswriter.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is amazing, May 13, 2006
Giamatti's work here is an insightful look into the spectacle of baseball and sport in general and how they intereact with society and social values. It's a must-read for any baseball-bred sports fan.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, July 8, 2014
By 
DS (Manhattan) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Take Time for Paradise: Americans and Their Games (Hardcover)
A wonderful peroration to sport, games, and their resonance to life.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, dense, intelligent, May 10, 2014
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Mr. Giamatti was a university professor and Commissioner of Baseball. In Take Time for Paradise he writes more as a professor than as titular conscience of baseball. This is an academic book, mainly philosophical, about the connections between sport and the human condition. Do not read it in expectation of learning insights about the administration of baseball, or what the Commissioner of Baseball or President of the National League actually does on an average day in the office. Do read it for a very smart appreciation of the role that organized sport plays in a day in the life on an average person. In the end the reader is left wondering about two things that Professor Giamatti could have told us more about: the NCAA and Pete Rose.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wax Poetic about the National Pastime, April 16, 2014
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Great book about American's and the reason sport is important to our overall psyche. Particular emphasis on baseball and it's spot on. Good for all, not just sports lovers. Helps you understand how games say more about who we are than just about anything we do. Recommend to all who have even the slightest interest in sports, as well as anyone interested in philosophy or American political science.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Short on pages..., March 12, 2014
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This review is from: Take Time for Paradise: Americans and Their Games (Hardcover)
A Bartlett's above (far above I mean) me in writing in his style is a little hard to get used to ... and the book itself is short - 94 pages w/o his son's Afterword. The book delves not just w/ baseball, but how Americans spend their free time - their leisure. Almost like taking a graduate level course.
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Take Time for Paradise: Americans and Their Games
Take Time for Paradise: Americans and Their Games by A. Bartlett Giamatti (Hardcover - March 15, 2011)
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