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Living on the Black: Two Pitchers, Two Teams, One Season to Remember Hardcover – May 1, 2008

3.5 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Emulating the format of the Kunhardts’ Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography (1992), this volume, with nearly 1,000 illustrations, depicts the 60 years of commemoration following Lincoln’s death in 1865. As explained by historian David Herbert Donald (Lincoln, 1995), little information that is now second nature in Lincoln biographies was publicly known in 1865; consequently, this fascinating work can be appreciated for its presentation of the revelations about Lincoln’s life. Pivotal to these pioneering efforts was the research and biographies by Lincoln’s law partner, William Herndon, and by his secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay, who aspired to write definitive portraits. Their publishing efforts, and those of other Lincoln associates, interweave with the Kunhardts’ accounts of other forms assumed by Lincoln celebration, encompassing collections of artifacts, commissions of statues and monuments, birthday observances (culminating in the 1909 centennial), and, most important historically, the fate of his political legacy of preserving the Union and ending slavery. The last, with the failure of Reconstruction to achieve legal equality for blacks, supplies a dampening contrast to the otherwise exalting trajectory taken by Lincoln’s memorializers, the authors making a pointed comparison between a 1908 anti-black riot in Lincoln’s hometown and Springfieldians’ staging of a whites-only centennial banquet scant months later. An engrossing invitation to scrutinize its every page and image, the Kunhardts’ work is sure to be one of the most popular books in the bicentennial effusion of Lincoln volumes. --Gilbert Taylor


"As always, Feinstein guides readers into a world with which fans have only surface familiarity, revealing in the process multiple substrata of nuance and meaning. Baseball fans who read this wonderful book will come away with a deeper understanding of the game in addition to having encountered a pair of fascinating men who just happen to play a game for a living." (Booklist (starred review))

"When Feinstein gets [Glavine and Mussina] talking about the art of pitching, the book comes alive." (New York Daily News David Hinckley)

"An absorbing read. Feinstein takes a pair of opinionated veterans and picks their brains all season about the art of pitching, also relying on the thoughts of teammates, coaches, managers and families to present well-rounded, intimate portraits....What makes the book so engaging is that each pitcher faced adversity during the season, creating unexpected drama that helped give an edge to Feinstein's narrative.....another excellent story, told by one of sports' best storytellers." (Tampa Tribune Bob D?Angelo)

"Strong on human drama-both players come across as noble, bloodied warriors...Feinstein captures [Mussina and Glavine] artfully." (Washington Post Book World Allen Barra)

"Feinstein achieves a double play fans should savor for its scrupulous look at what life is like for the 21st-century major leaguer." (Christian Science Monitor Erik Spanberg)

"This one's about the pitchers Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina, but it is really about the art of pitching and the poetry of baseball. Which is the whole point. Really good sports writing--and no, that's not an oxymoron, like "military music." (Bloomberg.com David M. Shribman)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316113913
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316113915
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,519,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Samantha L. Sayre VINE VOICE on August 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
John Feinstein is a very good sports author. I love most of his books. I thought this was an interesting concept for a book. I enjoy both pitchers, Mike Mussina and Tom Glavine, that he chose to follow. Mr. Feinstein showed a different side of both pitchers. He had a great season to follow with the New York Mets collapse and the New York Yankees fighting to make the playoffs. I really enjoyed Mike Mussina's breaking down of what a pitcher truly is and what they do.

Now the bad, I hated that Mr. Feinstein went through game by game giving the highlights that someone could have gotten from the boxscores. He left me asking questions as I read about what the two pitchers thought or how it effected them that I wish he would have answered. The first part of the book where Mr. Feinstein goes through each of their careers to date was fascinating. However he couldn't sustain that pace and the critical analysis after he started with the 2007 season. I really did enjoy this book but wish he would have had a better editor that would have made the book flow a little tighter.
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Format: Hardcover
Sports writers tend to specialize in one sport or another, but John Feinstein writes about different sports, and does every one equally well. However, his latest book, Living on the Black: Two Pitchers, Two Teams, One Season to Remember, is definitely for readers who are more than just casual baseball fans. It's for those readers who are passionate enough to want to read about the 2007 season, following each pitch made by Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina. I'm one of those baseball fanatics.

When Feinstein picked Tom Glavine of the New York Mets and Mike Mussina of the New York Yankees, he selected two experienced pitchers who were very different. He knew if one was injured during the year, he still had another pitcher to follow. Glavine, a lefty, who never went to college, is a future Hall of Famer who spent his career in the National League. Mike Mussina, a righty, went to Stanford, and pitches in the American League. By selecting these two men, Feinstein could also examine the culture of the two New York baseball teams.

Feinstein sets the scene for his book by telling about the careers for these two masterful pitchers. Since Glavine and Mussina both cooperated with the author, it makes for a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the lives and careers of the two players. And, then 2007 proved to be an interesting year. Tom Glavine went for his 300th win, and the Mets went down to the wire in their Division. Mike Mussina struggled to find his pitches after spending time on the Disabled List, and the Yankees' woes jeopardized Joe Torre's career. Feinstein's writing is so good that even those of us who remember how 2007 turned out are left hanging on every pitch.

John Feinstein's Living on the Black: Two Pitchers, Two Teams, One Season to Remember is one book for baseball fans to savor, and remember.
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Format: Hardcover
It apparent that John Feinstein wanted to use this book and its two subjects as a window into the rest of Major League Baseball and the 2007 season. Yet what resulted is an incredibly subpar book that borders on frustration for the reader.

The book was obviously written for a baseball audience, which makes it perplexing when the author chooses to describe the purpose of Spring Training, warming-up in the bullpen or even the Designated Hitter. A sizable portion of the book is spent on such banal details. Another large portion is spent on Feinstein trying to re-create each game Mike Mussina or Tom Glavine pitched, as he goes into incredibly bland detail about who hit what, who scored, who relieved, etc. It's like Feinstein was simply adding words and names to fill up the book.

Along the way, Feinstein uses the "window" effect to attempt to touch on other teams. This is where the book fails badly, as Feinstein includes such blatant inaccuracies as "Prince Fielder is the son of former AL MVP Cecil Fielder" or "Luis Castillo won several Gold Gloves in the American League" (both awards were never won by either player; Castillo won his awards in the NL). Or that John Smiley was pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1995 (he had left prior to the '92 season). The book is also filled with misspellings. A hideous example is "Salmon Torres", who has his name spelled as "Torres", then "Torrez" in the SAME paragraph! Several shots at Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Lastings Millege and Jose Reyes are spaced throughout everything, along with some slams at the Tampa Bay Rays (who, at time of publication, were still a year away from turning around their entire franchise).
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Format: Hardcover
As someone who has read John Fienstein's books for more than ten years now I can say that I have seen some of his books that are good to great and some that are poor to lousy. This one sadly rates in the second category. Overall it is a weak and overwrought story and essentially a 500 page plus book that could be half that length with a good editor.

The book also contains a number of errors that a good editor would have caught along with the long winded phrases. Plus the fact that he dwells so long on the prep of two pitchers when focusing on either Glavine and the Mets or Mussina and the Yankees would have sufficed. Basically this book is too much information and too little strength. I hope his next work is better!
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