Sunday, February 12, 2012

Baseball book club continued

I know there's more people reading. So how about some responses? We've had comments on Berg that have turned into comments on the book. What are your thoughts on the book? I agree with the comment that it was well-researched, to an extent. I'm always dubious about books that rely primarily on interviews and in this case, the primary individuals who would have been nice to interview - the Berg family - were unable to be interviewed without an Ouija board. Dawidoff did manage to track down a wide range of interviews which I found impressive.

I can't say I enjoyed reading the book. There was so much of the mundane. Berg traveled here and met with this person and ate here. He put his fingers to his lips and said shhh. He visited with this person. He traveled here. And I've already made mention of my skepticism of Berg as a decent book topic. So I didn't like it, even discounting for the fact that I don't think there are many well-written baseball books.

Your thoughts?


dayf said...

I hate to say I've only read one chapter. Life got busy. It was a good chapter though...

jtorrey13 said...

Three things:

First a question for Jon - can you have a good book without an interesting subject? I ask that because I'm not sure. There are people within "The Boys of Summer" that aren't that interesting, but taken as a whole, in small snapshots and as contrasts, they become interesting. Does it have to do with the writing and the presentation?

Second, how reliable did you find each of the individuals who Dawidoff interviewed? From the prologue, I knew that would be part of the book as the quote from George Allen, "Moe Berg was a fraud," immediately let me know that there was some disagreement on his place in history. Especially after the CIA museum curator who talks to his spirit and has personalized Berg license plates. I think the most interesting ones were the ones who knew languages and physics. They gave you an idea that Berg didn't. But, again, was he hiding his true strengths? Was he a renaissance man (as the curator believes)? Or, well, I'll let the third thing give the option to this 'or'.

Third, I just found this passage on pp. 24-25 as I started to reread Kurt Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle" and thought I'd share it.

"'Was Franklin Hoenikker on the Class Colors Committee too?'
'He wasn't on anything,' said Sandra scornfully. 'He never got on any committee, never played any game, never took any girl out. I don't think he ever even talked to a girl. We used to call him Secret Agent X-9.'
'You know-he was always acting like he was on his way between two secret places; couldn't talk to anybody.'
'Maybe he really did have a very rich secret life,' I suggested.
'Nah,' sneered the bartender. 'He was just one of those kids who made model airplanes and jerked off all the time.'"