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The Eastern Stars: How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Macoris Hardcover – April 15, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kurlansky offers an intriguing look at the history of the Dominican Republic and the role American baseball has played in the impoverished and destitute sugar-growing town of San Pedro de Macoris. Kurlansky's approach and style make this story accessible even to nonsports fans. Ed Sala's deep and slightly throaty voice is enjoyable to listen to, though at times he can be a bit halting in his rhythm. Sentences end and begin with some abruptness, and there are mild inconsistencies with Spanish pronunciation. Despite this, Kurlansky's prose and Salas's overall performance combine to keep listeners tuned in till the end. A Riverhead hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 25).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Named after San Pedro's home team, Estrellas Orientales, The Eastern Stars hit a home run with some critics and struck out with others. Kurlansky tackles his subject capably, explaining key baseball terms and concepts for readers unfamiliar with the game, but he doesn't write with the passion and determined focus of a sportswriter. Critics who panned The Eastern Stars cited Kurlansky's failure to humanize his story as well as a few holes in his own understanding of the game. However, as the study of a troubled, economically depressed community, Kurlansky's book fares better. Based on solid research and framed in simple, forthright prose, his reflections on history, culture, religion, and racial relations--oh, and baseball--charmed critics who didn't necessarily have their hearts set on a baseball book.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (April 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594487502
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594487507
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #485,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Mark Kurlansky is a New York Times bestselling and James A. Beard Award-winning author. He is the recipient of a Bon Appétit American Food and Entertaining Award for Food Writer of the Year, and the Glenfiddich Food and Drink Award for Food Book of the year.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#99 in Books > History
#99 in Books > History

Customer Reviews

This book had just atrocious research and editing, and was not a very compelling read in the first place.
Matthew Mclaughlin
I also get the impression the author may not be a baseball fan, or at least he tries too hard to explain the vagaries of baseball to those who aren't fans.
B. Niedt
In the end, Kurlansky does not do enough to demonstrate how "baseball changed the Dominican town of San Pedro de Macoris."
J. A. Walsh

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Esther Schindler TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Most of the baseball books I've read (such as the one I reviewed most recently, The Baseball Codes) are about the *game* of baseball. Kurlansky's is different. Unlike your average book about the sport, in The Eastern Stars you'll rarely find the phrase, "The count was 3 and 2, with 2 outs." Instead, this book is about the cultural history of baseball in a place and economic system that is foreign to most of us. It's fascinating -- assuming that you are as attracted as I am to anthropology, or "how one item can impact an entire society."

Kurlansky is no stranger to this kind of writing, as his previous books (such as Salt: A World History) demonstrate. But I hadn't realized until I read The Eastern Stars that he has a long journalistic history in the Dominican Republic, and the depth of his knowledge really shows. This isn't someone who flew in for a few weeks worth of interviews; Kurlansky is well aware of the frequency with which the power goes out in the Dominican Republic, and people's dependence on motorbikes (I once saw five people on a two-person motorbike -- plus a guitar). In fact, if you're interested in the Dominican Republic without any reference to baseball, this would be an excellent overview. I certainly wish I'd read his chapter on the country's history before I spent a week in the country in the mid 90s. (I stayed with friends, cooking on a gas stove powered with rum. It was a very long way from any resort hotel.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
New York Times best-selling author Mark Kurlansky approaches The Eastern Stars, not as a baseball fan but as a dispassionate journalist, and his approach, while professional and competent, is detrimental to the book because the dry, academic tone does not give life to the Dominican players described; the character profiles are never developed into a cohesive narrative and remain scant and superficial; and finally the book's purpose evidenced by its subtitle: "How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Macoris" is too simplistic. Yes, players from the Dominican escaped their poverty to make millions playing Major League Baseball. Not a compelling premise. No compelling baseball player profiles or at least little new for the baseball fan. Learning about Rico Carty's spending sprees (buying dozens of pairs of shoes in one outing) makes for interesting anecdotage but doesn't make an entire book. I'm sad to say The Eastern Stars was a boring read and as a baseball fan I was very disappointed.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Anton Gruenewald on July 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Kurlansky owes Manny Alexander an apology...a BIG apology. I was really looking forward to this book. Unfortunately, Mr. Kurlansky writes about baseball as if it's a vague and foreign concept for him. The book is also chock full of factual errors. Most are harmless and show a total lack of understanding of baseball and well...just plain laziness by the author, editor and publisher. One is just awful. He states that while a member of the Yankees in 2000, Manny Alexander took equipment from Derek Jeter and sold it to memorabilia dealers. WRONG! Alexander never played for the Yankees. The incident happened in 2002 and the player caught dealing Jeter's equipment was not Manny Alexander. What had become an exercise of finding the error or clueless statement (Yes, Alfredo Griffin did hit .500 one season for Cleveland...in four at-bats), became one of jaw-dropping shock at how a well-respected non-fiction writer could have been so dangerously lazy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on August 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As a huge fan of baseball and a bigger fan of baseball books, I was a little surprised by Kurlansky's latest book. Most other baseball books are written by authors who are clearly passionate fans of the game. With this comes a focus on details of the sport that includes literary representation of games--or particular moments from games--and heavy reliance on statistics. Kurlansky's focus here is not the details of games but how professional baseball has impacted the culture and way of life of the Dominican Republic in general with s focus on San Pedro de Macoris, a small town that has produced 79 major league ball players between 1962 and 2008. Further, Kurlansky demonstrates himself as a journalist who knows a lot about the country. His focus is on the cultural history of the island and the impact of baseball on the culture and economics of the island. He does share anecdotes of famous players but most of these focus on their life outside of the diamond. We see how these famous players and their wealth have inspired a nation and a city to stress baseball to their male children as a way to overcome widespread poverty. It is fascinating to consider that even a modest (by today's standard) signing bonus is the equivalent of years of salary. Kurlansky shares that even players who have had very moderate success in baseball are able to return to the Dominican as heroes and set their families up in comparative luxury and security.

In addition to the impact of the game on the city and country, Kurlansky focuses on why this area has become such a fertile birthplace for baseball talent.
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The Eastern Stars: How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Macoris
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