Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I review a wide array of books and don't limit myself to one subject:
Sports biographies and memoirs (mainly baseball and basketball)
American history
American political biographies/memoirs
Movies/entertainment non-fiction
Comedic fiction
Comedic memoirs
Fiction: Brad Meltzer, John Grisham and select titles (usually ones that draw my interest)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Book review - Brooks: The Biography of Brooks Robinson by Doug Wilson

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (March 4, 2014)

In Brooks: The Biography of Brooks Robinson, Doug Wilson gives us the first comprehensive biography of the legendary Baltimore Orioles third baseman--the greatest defensive third baseman of all time.  Wilson does a fine job in telling Brooks' story.

The only downside is that Wilson was unable to sit down one on one with Mr. Robinson for an interview.  This is, in part, due to Brooks' time in recovering from injuries sustained in early 2012 at a South Florida casino.  Wilson was able to speak with Earl Weaver prior to his passing away in January 2013 and a number of teammates, too.

Robinson is a class act and one of the nicest players you will ever meet.  It is because of this that Robinson stands out in the Golden Era of baseball.  His being on the Veterans Committee played a large role in seeing to it that Ron Santo was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.  Until his recent bout with cancer and injuries of late, you would have a hard time getting him to say no.  While other Hall of Famers would sign their autograph and move on to the next in line, Brooks not only signs but he also makes small talk with those people that he's signing for.  He takes pictures with them as well.

Robinson grew up a Cardinals fan in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he attended Central High School--graduating a few years before it was put on the map in the Civil Rights movement.  His family instilled a hard work ethic in him.

From 1955 until his retirement in 1977, opponents learned that they shouldn't hit the ball towards third base.  In doing so, it was an automatic out with the vacuum cleaner stationed at the base in Robinson.  The Cincinnati Reds learned this the hard way during the 1970 World Series.

Brooks played all 23 seasons of his career with the Orioles--a feat that would be rare in this day and age alone considering free agency and salary dump trading.  He became a role model both on and off the field as he honored the game with elegance, class, and character.  In his career, he won 2 World Series, selected for 18 All-Star Games, won 16 straight Gold Gloves, and three MVP honors: AL, All-Star, and World Series.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Book Review: Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel's Soul

Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel's Soul by Daniel Gordis

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Schocken (March 4, 2014)

Menachem Begin is one of the most polarizing figures of our time but Gordis has penned a well-written biography of the former Israeli Prime Minister.

This isn't just Begin's story but also a story of the State of Israel.  Begin was the PM who made peace with Egypt when he signed a historic peace treaty with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat when Jimmy Carter was the president of the United States.

Once referred to as a fascist by rival David Ben-Gurion, Begin became the first Israeli to win the Nobel Peace Prize.  This is a man that was both complex and controversial.  Even though he was not really religious, he was still very proud to be Jewish.

A Polish native, Begin admired Revisionist Zionist Ze’ev Jabotinsky and became a leader within his Betar movement.  He would later be placed in prison by the Soviets in 1940 and joining the Free Polish Army in 1942.

It was after he joined the Irgun in 1943 that he was able to achieve an instant notoriety for the organization's bombings.

Begin was a right-winger and belonged to the Herut party.  They played opppsites to the Labor governments.  It was a surprise when the party won in 1977.  Through Begin, Israel was able to outreach to the Ethiopian Jews and the Vietnamese "boat people."

It was Begin who made the decision to bomb the Iraq nuclear reactors in 1981, an act that is now seen as being a courageous foresight.

After resigning in 1983, Begin lived in seclusion until his passing in 1992.  He would not be buried beisde his fellow Israeli PMs.  Instead, he would join his Irgun comrades.

What Gordis' perceptive biography does is give us new insight into Begin's life and how his influences continues to live on.