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Summer of Shadows: A Murder, A Pennant Race, and the Twilight of the Best Location in the Nation Paperback – December 1, 2010
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"Knight describes the on-and-off-field pennant race and Series action with breathless excitement that will thrill readers more than half-century later..."
--"Akron Beacon Journal"
"Jonathan Knight has hammered a grand slam of a book in his account of the American League Champion Cleveland Indians, the Sam Sheppard trial, the City of Cleveland and our country in 1954. If you love the Tribe, Cleveland and history, this is a must-read."
--Terry Pluto, "Cleveland Plain Dealer"
"As a Clevelander born and bred, and an autumn child of the star-crossed year of 1954, I emerged into the world just as the events described in "Summer of Shadows" were unfolding. An admirably researched and readable work, author Jonathan Knight has packed his book full of surprising revelations from the worlds of sports, media, and law enforcement. Readers are treated to a compelling chronicle that seamlessly intertwines Al Rosen's inspired performance in the All-Star game--played in front of hometown Tribe fans--to Larry Doby's trailblazing heroics to the horrific murder of Marilyn Sheppard to the Cleveland Press's Javert-like editor, Louis B. Seltzer, who never relented in his zeal to see Dr. Sam Sheppard punished for the crime. "Trial of the Century" is now a hackneyed term, but surely Seltzer broke the mold when he editorialized week after week against the doctor on his own front pages, elevating the poisoning of the jury pool to a refined art. If you've ever enjoyed watching David Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble in "The Fugitive" get yourself a copy of "Summer of Shadows," a book I will keep on my shelf along with such classics as David Halberstam's "Summer of '49" and Eliot Asinof's "Eight Men Out.""
--Philip Turner, co-founder Undercover Books, Cleveland Bookstore Chain, and publisher of Philip Turner Books
"I grew up in Cleveland, the west side, and if there is one thing I know about my home it is that the people there feed on love of misery, of near misses and tragedy. Summer of Shadows captures those moments in time that last forever in our collective imagination and reminds us that this often maligned town was once one of America's greatest. Captivating, engaging. You won't put it down."
--Craig J. Heimbuch, author "Chasing Oliver Hazard Perry"
"Knight's "Summer of Shadows" gives us plenty of bright summer
and then patiently and respectfully shows us that the shadows
were there all along. He's not a naysayer or a spoilsport. After all,
he's just as much an optimistic Ohioan as the rest of us." --James Gorman review in "Ohioana Quarterly" Summer/Fall 2012
About the Author
Jonathan Knight has written nine books about sports and is a regular sports commentator on radio and television in Northeast Ohio. He was called "one of the most articulate and devoted sportswriters in Ohio" by the Akron Beacon Journal. A member of both the Society for American Baseball Research and the Pro Football Researchers Association, he's a graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Learn more at jknightbooks.com and follow him on Twitter at @jknightwriter.
Top customer reviews
This is more than a baseball book. The author has three stories in one. For baseball fans like myself it is the great detail he puts into the season covering the key games throughout the year. For mystery fans he spends a fair amount of time, perhaps too much, on the Dr. Sam Sheppard murder case. Finally, it is a sociological study of Cleveland as it developed from "The Best Location in the Nation" after World War II and fell to being "The Mistake on the Lake." Knight has plenty of descriptions of what Cleveland was like during 1954, and you will feel like you are there even if you have never visited the city. It is one of the best studies of any city that I have read in a long time and I was a social studies teacher for 41 years.
From the standpoint of baseball, he captures beautifully the feeling of being in a ballpark watching what for me is still America's greatest game. He also gives some information about what happened to various players after that fantastic season. We were in Tampa, Florida when former manager Al Lopez died and I had forgotten he was a Florida native. There were articles galore on this man and his relationship with his one time mentor, then greatest rival Casey Stengel. Knight followed this history faithfully. Lopez, sadly never would admit that he made in major mistake in not putting Bob Feller into game 3 or 4 of the World Series against the Giants. Many of us are convinced that this would have turned things around. Feller was ready and he wanted that game and that win badly. I have had the pleasure of meeting Bob Feller and while he won't talk about it, it is obvious that despite his great records, he has always regretted not getting to win a world series game.
The Sam Sheppard story is handled fairly showing strengths and weaknesses in the cases presented by both sides. What is obvious is that it was very mishandled, more so than the O.J. or Casey Anthony cases. There were many Civil Right violations and after ten years in prison the U.S. Supreme Court required a new trial. Dr. Sam was found innocent, however his past life was never returned to him and all the related family members suffered. We will never know whether he was really responsible for the death of his wife Marilyn or not. You will have to draw your own conclusions. For me, the most important part of the case was the influence of a newspaper owner and publisher on the arrest and first trial. Truly this was an evil man.
Cleveland past and present is very well handled. I do wish that more time had been spent on the great revival that has taken place in that city. We go from a "city of light" to a dark period of a city everyone would make jokes about on talk shows and in books. The city has gone through a great revival and this is to be celebrated.
Summer of Shadows gave me so much more! First, it is a great baseball book about the 1954 Cleveland Indians, the team that set the American League record for wins prior to flaming out in the World Series. Jonathan Knight captures the essence of the team and its journey, giving us enough in-game action without burying us in statistical detail. The author's gift for making scene and character come alive in tightly-written paragraphs is truly exceptional; the two chapters devoted to the doubleheader conquest of the evil Yankees are baseball writing at its best.
But Mr. Knight does not limit his talents to the ultimately disappointing history of the Indians. That summer also featured the murder of the young wife of a physician by the name of Sam Sheppard, whose story gripped Cleveland as tightly as the pennant race. Knight uses this tragic but compelling tale of "newspaper justice" to draw attention to the elements that drove a once-great city ("The Best Location in the Nation") into moral and physical decline. The goal is ambitious, the challenge significant, but Mr. Knight pulls it off with aplomb. Never once did I feel that he was stretching too hard to weave these three superficially disparate themes together; instead, his mastery of narrative provides us with a tight, page-turning story that is difficult to put down and consistently stimulates thought and emotion. We enter a time of both innocence and naiveté at the start of 1954 and leave it with a greater understanding of the cultural causes behind Cleveland's tragic decline, much of which lies in the darker side of human nature.
There are few books I bother to re-read, but Summer of Shadows will definitely make that exclusive list.
Most recent customer reviews
:The Cleveland Indians battled their arch-rivals...The New York Yankees...for the Pennant....only to lose the World Series to....Read more