Every December when we look back at the books we have read in the past year, it seems like we always wonder if the next year can be as good. For me, this time around is no exception as 2008 was indeed a great one. Below are the ones I enjoyed the most.
And looking ahead, perhaps the new year will bring a much anticipated title in the baseball and Giants world. James Hirsch is writing an authorized biography on Mays, with a working title of Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend. Also, Craig Wolff, a journalism professor at N.Y.U., who reportedly has interviewed 2,000 people, is writing one too (Mays did not agree to sit down with him). And according to this article by Leon Neyfakh, Bill Rhoden is "still working on a "Willie Mays project."
Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederic Douglass and Abraham Lincoln by John Stauffer
The type of book you can't put down, but at the same time, you want to slow down and savor it. I learned a lot about Lincoln, and even more about Douglass. Two extraordinary men and the timing, of course, is brilliant.
But Didn't We Have Fun, An Informal History of Baseball's Pioneer Era, 1843-1870 by Peter Morris
Peter Morris has established himself as a great writer and historian. This is a fantastic look at the roots of the game and how baseball transformed from a collection of bat and ball games played in the 1820s and 1830s to the "New York" game, and then into the professional era in the 1870s.
Baseball's Greatest Hit, The Story of Take Me Out to the Ballgame by Robert Thompson, Tim Wiles and Andy Strasberg.
A wonderful book about our country's third most popular song. Includes CD and listings.
The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Shouldn't--and Put Ourselves in Greater Danger by Daniel Gardner
Is there any subject more fascinating, any frontier more worthy of exploration than human thought and behavior?
I so much enjoyed this book, learning how we process our thoughts and fears. I think people can really improve their lives by realizing how the media, politicians and corporations all profit from fear-mongering, and understanding our irrational fears.
Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2009
Chase those winter blues away with some of the best baseball writing around.
The Option of Urbanism, Investing in a New American Dream by Christoper Lienberger
The cover of this book has a cheap quality to it. Well, you know what they say about book covers…
The Place to Be: Washington, CBS, and the Glory Days of Television News by Roger Mudd
Although they have made somewhat of a comeback in the ratings, CBS is now, we have to say it, the place not to be. But in its time, CBS was king, and Mudd tells the story. He criticizes his colleagues and competitors fairly, noting their weakness and strengths. He also criticizes himself, noting that when he was offered the chance for a big assignment, he told the chief about his previous vacation plans. He was aghast at myself for not realizing that would come back to haunt him. And it did, Dan Rather got Cronkite's chair.
This Just In: What I Couldn't Tell You on TV by Bob Schieffer
Wanted: A long-time journalist to write a book about the television news industry from the 60s to present day. Sense of humor a plus.
Great read, a lot of tripping down memory lane and Schieffer is one of the few journalists to work the Capital Slam - Congress, the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department. I read this after Mudd's so I was worried it wouldn't be as good. Mudd edges him out but this is an excellent read too.
Washington, The Making of a Capital by Fergus Sedwich
I have to admit I skip-read parts of this but it was fascinating to read how Washington came to be our capital.