All types of books from all kinds of publishers are out there for the getting and the reading. What follows is a survey of some of the more interesting and appealing tomes.
"Ed Barrow" by Daniel R. Levitt (University of Nebraska, $29.95, 427 pages) is an in depth bio of the man best known for being the power behind the great Yankee dynasty. But he was much more than that as Levitt shows in this well researched and highly readable effort. Sadly for Red Sox fans, it was Barrow who left the Olde Towne team and went on to work wonders with the Big Apple franchise.
"An Incomplete and Inaccurate History of Sport" by Kenny Mayne (Crown, $24.95, 234 pages) is a rollicking romp on most things you were probably not that much interested in anyway but that is part of the charm of this book containing the author's "random thoughts from childhood" and an assortment of outrageous other commentary on sports of all kind ranging from ice hockey to yachting. If you are a fan of the ESPN icon and want a good laugh go for this book.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED is "Anatomy of Baseball" edited by Lee Gutkind and Andrew Blauner (SMU, 210 pages) where 20 writers compete - -with 17 new essays and three not so new ones - - reflecting, editorializing and waxing poetic sometimes on the myriad pinpoints of light of the national pastime.
"Spoke" by Charles Alexander (SMU, $17.95, 400 pages) and "Chief Bender's' Burden" by Tom Swift (University of Nebraska Press, $24.95, 339 pages) are both worthy reads dealing as they do with underrated icons from earlier baseball times. Both books are long over-due and add insights aplenty into the lives of two talented players, the obstacles they faced, the challenges they overcame.
From Rounder Books comes "When Boston Still Had the Babe: the 1918 World Champion Red Sox" ($18.95, 213 pages, paper). It has a long title and an even longer list of contributors three associate editors and in all a total of 30 contributors. But with Bill Nowlin as editor, with a talented group of writers and editors, the book comes together bringing back the performers and the times of the glorious championship season. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for Red Sox fans and for others, too.
"Red Sox Rule" by Michal Holley (Harper, $25.95, 207) is a slim tribute to capitalize on the great BoSox accomplishments of the past few seasons. Terry Francona, Theo Epstein and the guys get the up close and personal treatment from Holley. There is a lot to like about this behind the scenes book but so much of what appears here has been covered in depth in magazines, newspapers and other books.
"Chicago Cubs" with text by Steve Johnson ( Voyageur Press, $26.95, 144),padded with photos and light on text as it goes through Cubby lore yesterday and today.
"Two In the Field" a novel by Darryl Brock (Frog, Ltd., $15.95, 393 pages is a sequel to the highly received " If I Never get Back." Here Brock focuses on the doings of reporter Sam Fowler and his back in time (1875) adventures and twists and turns and encounters with all type of characters. A GOOD READ.
Even celebrated sports authors like John Feinstein can have an off day - -and that is what "Living on the Black" (Little Brown, $26.99, 525 pages) represents. The original idea Feinstein relates was to do a book with David Cone. But that was not to be as Cone did a "thinking pitcher's book" with Roger Angell. (Feinstein related that it "got good reviews, sold about 22,000 copies in hardcover" and far less than that in paperback, 6,000. Undeterred, Feinstein wound up with Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina - one a Met and the other a Yankee. The premise was solid two thinking men who had been around the baseball blocks and should have had a lot to say. The result is less than satisfying - - too much repetition, too many hits, runs and errors. Better editing would have pared it down and turned this book into an extra base effort.