Baseball: An Illustrated History

Baseball: An Illustrated History

by Geoffrey C. Ward

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530 illustrations in text


530 illustrations in text

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Baseball is indeed a mirror of American life, and Ward and Burns show how well America's story is told through baseball. Their book is the companion to a nine-part PBS television documentary scheduled to begin on September 18. In format and approach it resembles the authors' previous best seller, The Civil War (LJ 9/1/90). Each chapter, or "inning," proceeds chronologically with a dominant theme and dramatis personae. The profusion of striking illustrations add an extra dimension to each chapter. Another nice feature is the interlaced essays by such fine writers as Roger Angell, Robert Creamer, and Thomas Boswell on the hold that baseball has on ordinary people. The narrative gains force and momentum in sections examining the injustice of segregation and the forgotten heroes of the Negro leagues. Because the book is based on a documentary filmscript, the narrative sometimes seems a bit episodic, jumping from scene to scene and story to story. Overall, however, this rich and suggestive history is one of the finest books produced on baseball. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/94.]-Paul Kaplan, Lake Villa Dist. Lib., Ill.
Bill Ott
Baseball comes to PBS? Don't worry, all you public-broadcasting snobs. It's not as bad as it sounds. Your local PBS affiliate hasn't outbid the major networks for the Game of the Week. Instead, Ken Burns, whose "Civil War" documentary won more than 40 film and television awards, has turned from Bull Run to Bull Durham, producing a new, nine-part video on baseball that will air in the fall. Published in conjunction with the PBS program, this lavishly produced, gorgeously illustrated history of the game rises far above the often dreary companion volume genre. Coauthored by Burns and Geoffrey Ward, the book devotes its nine chapters (or innings, as they're called) to a decade-by-decade survey of the evolution of baseball. Complementing the historical material are more than 500 photos, some in color, and several impressionistic essays by various luminaries including Thomas Boswell and George Will. Perhaps surprisingly, the essays are the only weak link. Yes, baseball inspires us all to flights of rhetorical fancy, but isn't it time to call a moratorium on this sort of thing: America is about hope and renewal. And gloriously, so is baseball, pulsing with the mystery of the seasons and life itself. Thanks for sharing that, John Thorn, but the pictures and the unadorned facts presented here say it far more eloquently. Baseball doesn't need purple prose; the game's faces, names, dates, and numbers carry their own poetry, and Ward and Burns, unlike some of the essayists, wisely avoid the temptation to wax lyrical. Fans will find plenty to quibble about in these pages (too much Mantle; not enough Mays), but with the exception of "The Baseball Encyclopedia", there is no better one-volume history of the sport.
From the Publisher
“A rich concoction of narrative, essays, and photos [that] dazzles the eye . . . In so many ways you are reminded that rooting for baseball is like breathing.” —Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times

“Stirring and reflective . . . A beautiful book that stands on its own in any league.” —David E. Jones, Chicago Tribune

“Glorious nuggets are set amid the clear, warm narrative and hundreds of classic images . . . Highest marks for browseability, but the true reward comes from the longer essays by folks still smitten by the game.” —Jerry Shriver, USA Today

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.50(w) x 11.10(h) x 1.70(d)

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Meet the Author

Geoffrey C. Ward is a historian and biographer and the author of fourteen books. He won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1989 and the Francis Parkman Prize in 1990. He is also the winner of five Emmys and two Writers Guild of America awards for his work for public television. He lives in New York City.

Ken Burns’s films include The National Parks, Jazz, Baseball, and The Civil War, which was the highest-rated series in the history of American public television. His work has won numerous prizes, including the Emmy and Peabody Awards, two Academy Award nominations, and a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award. He lives in Walpole, New Hampshire.

Kevin Baker is the author of the City of Fire trilogy and was the chief historical researcher for Harry Evans’s The American Century.

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