Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Game Must Go On by John Klima

Posted by Rebecca Brendel

Reviewed by: Jim Patrick

What I ReadThe Game Must Go On: Hank Greenberg, Pete Gray, and the Great Days of Baseball on the Home Front in WWII by John Klima

Find It @YCLD: Here!

What It's About: The Game Must Go On tells the story of baseball during World War II.  Author John Klima focuses on three individuals who represent very different aspects of wartime baseball.  Hank Greenberg was a superstar with the Detroit Tigers who lost four prime years of his career to the war.  He was the first major league player to enlist in the war effort, and he was also the most prominent Jewish-American athlete of his era.  Pete Gray was a gifted, but one-armed, outfielder signed by the St. Louis Browns.  He was popular with fans and with soldiers, but he was resented by his teammates who saw him as a publicity gimmick.  Billy Southworth, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, was father of a minor league player who later lost his life while flying a B-17.  The success of the elder Southworth’s Cardinals teams was overshadowed by his personal grief.  Throughout these three very compelling personal stories, Klima skillfully weaves anecdotes about other players, along with pertinent details about the business of wartime baseball and the progress of the war itself. 
What I Thought: When I finished this book, I knew a great deal more about baseball during World War II than I had previously known.  The biographical sketches of the various ballplayers were fascinating, as were the logistical details of keeping baseball afloat during the war.  The tone of the writing was at times almost over the top with baseball (and military) clichés, but the information was very well chosen and organized.  Other reviewers praised the “breezy” and “engaging” nature of the writing, so perhaps I am in the minority on this objection.  The book reads quickly since the reader is pulled along by the drama of individual baseball seasons within the larger drama of the war.  This is an ambitious book that requires an author with expertise not only in baseball history, but also in political and military history.  Overall, this is an excellent book on an often over-simplified chapter in the history of baseball.

Readalikes: The Corporal Was a Pitcher: The Courage of Lou Brissie by Ira Berkow, The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship by David Halberstam

Or look this book up on NoveList!