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Summer of '49 Mass Market Paperback – April 2, 1990
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With the airwaves saturated with so much sporting choice, it's hard to imagine how, not that long ago, baseball so completely dominated the landscape and captured imaginations. Given the 1949 season that veteran journalist David Halberstam meticulously recreates, maybe it's not so hard after all. It was a season of great public and personal drama for the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, with the conflict finally resolving itself in a Yankee pennant following a head-to-head showdown on the final day of the season. Each team was led by a star of the highest magnitude: Joe DiMaggio spurred the Yankees despite missing half the season with a foot injury; Ted Williams virtually carried the Sox on his back, missing an unprecedented third Triple Crown by mere decimal points on his batting average. Halberstam focuses much of his narrative on the trials of these two individual sporting giants, adding fine supporting performances by Yogi Berra, Ellis Kinder, Dom DiMaggio, even restaurateur Toots Shoor. Both on and off the field, Halberstam beautifully captures the ethos of a more innocent game that no longer exists, played by heroes far more driven by their pride than by their salaries.
From Library Journal
This book is ostensibly about the pennant race between the Yankees and Red Sox that year and the "rivalry" between Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. But, as he did in Breaks of the Game (LJ 11/15/81) and The Amateurs (LJ 7/85), Halberstam focuses on a season and studies an era. Baseball came of age in the summer of 1949. Postwar America looked to baseball for a sense of normalcy in its life; television began to have an impact on the sport; Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. Summer of '49 is more than a collection of anecdotes. It is a study of all the elements and personalities that influenced baseball that year and beyond. Halberstam brings them together in such an enjoyable, interesting, and informative manner that a reader needn't be a baseball fan to appreciate the book.
- Martin J. Hudacs, Towanda H.S., Pa.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
They don’t generally write books like this anymore as the reader actually feels like they are in 1949 living and dying with every pitch just as though they were in the stands at Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium. It is for these reasons that I recommend Summer 1949 to the baseball and non baseball fan alike because Hallberstam knows how to write a human story beyond the lines of baseball.
Mr. Halberstam begins the book in 1948, a year that featured a three-way battle for the league title between the Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Cleveland Indians. All three teams were knotted with one week to go in the season, and when the dust settled, the Indians and Red Sox were tied and headed for a playoff game. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, they lost the game 8-3 and had to wait until 1949. Understandably, Boston considered 1949 to be “their year.”
The rest of the book takes the reader into the baseball season of 1949, covering the pennant race that would essentially be about two teams, Boston and New York. Like a great novelist, the author fleshes out the players that were part of that season, sharing stories and anecdotes. Mr. Halberstam also gives us a fascinating view of baseball and its fans 70 years ago, how America viewed its teams, and the relationship between sports reporters and the teams. Along the way, there are many pieces of information for today's baseball fans, such as the first player to have a representative (whose first job was to have a player paid for speeches in money rather than watches) as well as the backgrounds of many of yesterday’s stars.
The book ends with another exciting finish to the regular season and includes the World Series with the National League winner, the Brooklyn Dodgers. Mr. Halberstam then takes the time to tie everything up in a nice package with a what-happened-to-them-later chapter, a fitting end to a great book. This is definitely a gem for baseball fans. Five stars.
As a reader it wasn't that I couldn't put this down so much as I didn't want it to end. I parcelled it out to myself like the best pie, delicious to eat but, when you look down, there's less left; I watched my book mark move toward the end hoping that, nah, when I got there I would be referred to book two, Fall of '49 followed by, of course, Winter of '49. But it did end, I know who won what and I'm not telling. And no fair jumping on a search engine to find out. Buy the book and let David Halberstam voodoo writing enchant you until you want to be in stands completely forgetting that this is history completed. In "Summer of '49" David Halberstam exhumes the time, the place, the people and makes them as viable now as they were then. This is required reading for anyone who admires brilliant writing.
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