Mark Richardson — “Moe could speak twelve languages, but he couldn’t hit in any of them.” Such was the scouting report on Moe Berg, the subject of Nicholas Dawidoff’s The Catcher Was A Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg.” Berg was a notoriously poor hitter, a defensive wizard behind the plate who played in the major leagues for fifteen years , and most … Continue reading A Carefully Crafted Life
Mark Richardson — In the current political atmosphere, in which angry conservatives seem to be claiming that the way to “make America great again” is to stifle the free expression of any ideas that are not theirs and to squash dissent, it appears to me to be a good time to look back at our history, to a time when Senator Joseph McCarthy and his … Continue reading Whittaker Chambers by Sam Tanenhaus
Jeff Berger — I recently finished a biography called Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker by historian Stacy A. Cordery (Penguin Books, 2008). My interest in the book was inspired my brother Ron’s Wise Guy article on “The Populist and Progressive Traditions in American Politics” (Jan. 7, 2016), and it made me ponder the question of who would Alice … Continue reading Who Would Alice Have Voted For?
Mark Richardson — We are all aware of Ernest Hemingway’s expression of affection for Joe DiMaggio in The Old Man and the Sea, of Phillip Roth’s extensive and extended baseball metaphors in The Great American Novel, and of Bernard Malamud’s employment of the national pastime as a conveyance for his morality play The Natural, but baseball’s appeal to the literati predates these classics by decades. Before he was America’s … Continue reading Baseball and the Literati: Runyon, Lardner and Farrell
Ron Berger — I share Mark Richardson’s interest in nonfiction baseball books (see Wise Guys, February 17, 2016) and thought I’d take the opportunity to also share a few that I’ve read over the last 14 years. But first some personal background. My bonding with baseball began in 1959, when I was eight years old. The year before the Brooklyn Dodgers had moved to my … Continue reading For the Love of the Game
Mark Richardson — The Summer of Beer and Whiskey, a riveting history of the early days of professional baseball, tells the story of the American Association, an early league, founded in 1883, which came to be called The Beer and Whiskey League as a result of the daring policy adopted by the club owners of being the first league ever to allow the sale of … Continue reading Baseball in America: Two Books
Charles Cottle — Below are a few thoughts about books I have read recently. Mysteries are my guilty pleasure. Once I have started one, I find it hard to put it down. And if I’m reading a series that I like, I’m barely social until I finish every book in the list. So here are some thoughts about recent mysteries I have read followed by … Continue reading Books Recently Read
Ron Berger — In his book Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent, historian and political commentator E. J. Dionne puts America’s current political divide in historical perspective. Its roots, he argues, go back to the era in which the United States was founded. When the founders devised the U.S. Constitution, they were concerned with establishing a … Continue reading The Populist and Progressive Traditions in American Politics