Defending Baltimore Against Enemy Attack: A Boyhood Year During World War II

Defending Baltimore Against Enemy Attack: A Boyhood Year During World War II

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by Charles Osgood
     
 

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The year is 1942, and while America is reeling from the first blows of WWII, Osgood is just a nine-year-old boy living in Baltimore. As the war rages somewhere far beyond the boundaries of his hometown, he spends his days delivering newspapers, riding the trolley to the local amusement park, going to Orioles' baseball games, and goofing around with his younger

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Overview

The year is 1942, and while America is reeling from the first blows of WWII, Osgood is just a nine-year-old boy living in Baltimore. As the war rages somewhere far beyond the boundaries of his hometown, he spends his days delivering newspapers, riding the trolley to the local amusement park, going to Orioles' baseball games, and goofing around with his younger sister.

With a sharp eye for details, Osgood captures the texture of life in a very different era, a time before the polio vaccine and the atomic bomb. In his neighborhood of Liberty Heights, gaslights still glowed on every corner, milkmen delivered bottles of milk, and a loaf of bread cost nine cents.

Osgood reminisces about his first fist-fight with a kid from the neighborhood, his childhood crush on a girl named Sue, and his relationship with his father, a traveling salesman. He also talks about his early love for radio and how he used to huddle under the covers after his parents had turned off the lights, listening to Superman, The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, and, of course, to baseball games.

Defending Baltimore Against Enemy Attack is a gloriously funny and nostalgic slice of American life and a moving look at World War II from the perspective of a child far away from the fighting, but very conscious of the reverberations.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Osgood's memoir of growing up in Baltimore's Liberty Heights neighborhood circa 1942 echoes with the same measured cadence and disarmingly simple structure that the anchor uses in his CBS radio and TV broadcasts. The Emmy Award-winning broadcaster pulls readers into a seductive world, as he relates his obsession with baseball, his love of radio programs (which had a "profound influence" on him) and his experiences with other slices of Americana. Yet the war news affected Osgood, too, if in a minor way: he built a stink bomb with a friend ("weapons of mass disgust to waft at the enemy"), pinned a tiny Japanese flag over Manila on the map mounted on his bedroom wall and wondered "just how much of Africa needed liberating." His reminiscences are a basic nostalgic archetype, where plucky kids, strong families and sunny optimism are the order of the day, compared with Osgood's version of today's world, where ill-educated and pessimistic masses throng America's streets. The author talks about how, as a child aged eight to 12, he simply wanted to make people happy, imagining that if he were a child today, he'd be sent to a psychiatrist for such behavior. The golden-hued streets of Osgood's Liberty Heights are a bona fide paradise, drenched with more nostalgia than even Barry Levinson could offer, without a shred of acknowledgment of memory's distortion of events over time. Photos not seen by PW. Agent, Bill Adler. (May) Forecast: Father's Day promos, an author tour and inevitable plugs on the radio will boost sales to baby boomers and their parents. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"One of the greatest talents in broadcasting today...His pieces on CBS radio and television are delightfully sage, compassionate, and witty." (Jim Lehrer)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781401300234
Publisher:
Hyperion
Publication date:
05/12/2004
Pages:
170
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

"As a nine year-old patriot on the home front, I helped to collect scrap rubber, scrap metal, tinfoil, old newspapers, and even cans of fat for the war effort. Some of the tinfoil came from my father's packs of cigarettes, some of it came from my packs of gum, and some of the rubber came from rubber bands that I took home from school. Stealing them wasn't a sin because I kept hearing that God was on our side. Praise the Lord and pass the school supplies.

That year, 1942, was the best of times for a Baltimore boy who always seemed to be feeling good and the worst of times for a nation reeling from the first blows of World War Two."

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