jeffreyab: (The Librarian)
In honour of the opening of spring trainging I read this expanded "Sports Illustrated" article.

It examines the transition of baseball from something men went to see on their days off where they drank, brawled and gambled to America's past time. DeFord does this by telling us about the lives of Manager John McGraw and star pitcher Christy Mathewson of the New York Giants. It contrasts McGraw's working class upbringing in upstate New York and playing career with the very rough but successful Baltimore Orioles of the 1890's with college grad Matty's life in baseball in the early 1900's. The book gives much detail about baseball of that era know as the dead ball era for the lack of power hitting. Details include the transition from a game played in rickety wooden stadiums by teams that might be there next year to a two league 16 team game played in stadiums one of which is still being used today, Fenway Park.

Reccomended for baseball fans even if it fawns a might too much on the relationship of Matty and John. While two of the best at their game they only managed to win one World Series and had much personal tragedy.
jeffreyab: (The Librarian)
As in black men are always outnumbered, always outgunned.

This is the first book in the Socrates Fortlow duology. It describes Socrates passage from solitary street person to foster father, full time employee and gives details on his arrival in LA. Lots of discussion about how black men regard life and the police and marriage. Also about life in Watts. A very good read and highly reccomended.
jeffreyab: (The Librarian)
An account of some of the more extreme ideas that were at least mapped out on paper. They are mainly German as the Germans had the research facilities but not the capacity to build them. They range from the ridiculous, a tank the size of a naval destroyer ie 2,000 tons, to the inspiring, Von Braun's orbital space station, to the scary, a 1 kiloton nuclear bomb that may have been tested. Most of the other ideas range in between.

They all have a fiction component linking all the articles together with recurring characters. It also shows how much damage the Germans would have done to themselves if they had spent the effort to actually build the weapon. The nuclear bomb would not have been ready until 1945 when the Germans were staring defeat in the face and having it would only mean killing more Allies before they still lost the war.

The book only has one Allied project in it, a giant aircraft carrier made out of ice. The Allies had other projects equally wacky but not as cool looking in hypothetical pictures. The Great Panjandrum was a rocket propelled wheel designed to carry explosives up to the Atlantic Wall like it was an actual wall to be breached and not what it was, a series of strong points with linked fields of fire.

This book is recommended for anyone who likes interesting off the mainstream ideas.
jeffreyab: (The Librarian)
The second book about Socrates Fortlow a Black American who has spent most of his life in prison for a murder he did commit. A very graphic portrayal of the adjustments a convict has to make to reintegrate into society. Also the complications of being a black convict as well. Finally just what it is like to be dirt poor and live in an improvised apartment between two buildings, use the bus for your main transport, and work for minimum wage. In the first novel "Always outnumbered, always outgunned" Socrates lacks even a job relying on bottle returns for income.

Very well written and I will be presenting to the book club in February as a Black History Month presentation.
jeffreyab: (The Librarian)
A biography of Detroit crime and western author Elmore Leonard. Basically a description of his life and career up to 1989. It gives brief descriptions of his works and shows how his descriptive dialogue style developed over the years. The style is probably one of the reasons why some many of his books have been made into movies over the years.

Leonard is probably Michigan's best known author after Mitch Albom.
jeffreyab: (The Librarian)
I read this one because it was the only novel nominated for the 2005 Hugo Award I did not get to read before I voted.

This was mainly because I ordered a copy for the library and it only arrived in October 2006 a bot late for voting.

It is a good book. It flows well the characters are interesting and the settings as well. The plot seems to be more of a travelogue/history than a beginning, middle and end sort of story.

The most intriguing concept was that we will become mere extensions of our online memories and personality software emulating programs. Wearable computers will start this but even know I see it in myself. I know alot of information but give me access to the Internet and I know much more. Computers can also serve to jog our memories even now, reminding us of upcoming events, recording TV shows we might like.

Charles should be interesting to listen to when he comes to Penguicon this Spring.

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Jeff Beeler

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