Saturday, September 28, 2013

Review: Ted Williams: A Baseball Life

Ted Williams: A Baseball Life
Ted Williams: A Baseball Life by Michael Seidel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ted Williams is a fascinating sports figure. The greatest hitter to ever play the game of baseball, and yet one of the most criticized of players. He had a hate-hate relationship with the media that dogged him his whole baseball life. Seidel's book provides a good account of Williams' rise to baseball greatness and his struggles with the media and the fans. He does a good job balancing between the media's take and Williams' take on the causes of the strife. He doesn't get too much into his personal life except as affected his baseball life. A nice feature of the narrative is that Seidel references contemporaneous events to provide historical context to the events of baseball.

Personally, I don't get a lot out of detailed accounts of baseball games from a half a century ago. Some of it is interesting, but Seidel does a season by season exposition and throws a lot of stats out there. It tended to blur together, and I often lost the thread. The most interesting parts where the accounts and testimony from Williams and his contemporaries. Overall, I am glad I read it, but I'd only recommend it to hard core baseball readers or Williams' fans.

View all my reviews

Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: Contemporary Athletics and Ancient Greek Ideals

Contemporary Athletics and Ancient Greek Ideals
Contemporary Athletics and Ancient Greek Ideals by Daniel A. Dombrowski

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dombrowski’s book is very interesting and covers a lot of good material in the philosophy of sport. He is clearly well-versed in Ancient Greek philosophy and the philosophy of sport. So there is a lot to be gained by reading this book.

Truth be told, however, I was a bit disappointed. I think, based on the title and the book descriptions, I expected to find much more in the way of Ancient Greek philosophy. There is a lot, so this might be an unfair criticism, but the focus is really on contemporary philosophers of sport and their theories. The Ancient Greeks are called forth to cast insight, background, and further elaboration, but they are not the focus. Nevertheless, I did learn a lot about the relevancy of the Ancient Greek ideas, particularly of Plato, to some of the issues that arise in the philosophy of sport.

Dombrowski’s discussion of Weiss, Huizinga, and Feezell is helpful and thorough. These are not mere recapitulations. He provides clear insight in to the theories of these thinkers and their impact on the philosophy of sport. He criticizes where he disagrees, though I would have preferred even more critical analysis (that said, this would have lengthened the book beyond the easily digestible size it is). The last chapter on process philosophy was less interesting to me and seemed somewhat misplaced in the context of the other chapters.

Overall, I definitely recommend this. It is not long, is clearly written, and it provides a good discussion of some of the major issues in the philosophy of sport.

View all my reviews

Monday, September 09, 2013

Review: A Death In Vienna

A Death In Vienna
A Death In Vienna by Daniel Silva

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The previous two Allon novels and this one sort of form a trilogy with a focus on the Holocaust. The complicity of the Swiss and the Church are the focus of the first two. This one focuses on the broader complicity of many other countries evident in the post-war world. What makes this particular novel stand out is the detailed point of view of Holocaust survivors. This is integral to the plot; it provides the motivations for many of the characters and it causes the reader to feel the need for justice to be done.

It is paced well and gripping. The accounts from the death camps are harrowing. There is not much in the way of character development here; that is, not much is added to Allon’s character. We do get more of his back story and some of what may have lead him to be the man he is.

View all my reviews