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Reynolds, Raschi and Lopat: New York’s Big Three and the Great Yankee Dynasty of 1949—1953

McFarland & Company

Ted Williams at War

Rounder Books

The 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox: Pandemonium on the Field

Rounder Books

It wouldn’t be summer without baseball. Here’s a triple-header to round out the libraries of obsessed fans.

In Reynolds, Raschi and Lopat, Tufts’ beloved former provost and senior vice president takes us back to the remarkable period from 1949 to 1953, when the Yankees won five consecutive World Series. And he points out that most of the credit for that feat should go to three aging pitchers whose names have been all but forgotten: Allie Reynolds, who was an Oklahoma Creek Indian, and Vic Raschi and Ed Lopat, who were the offspring of Italian and Polish immigrants, respectively. Despite their widely different backgrounds, this trio shared a deep bond, and as they toiled together for Yankee glory, they became lifelong friends.

Ted Williams at War fills us in on the five years the famed Red Sox hitter carved out of his career to serve his country, first in World War II and later in Korea, where he flew 39 combat missions, one of which he survived only by crash-landing his plane. Through scores of interviews, including 40 with fellow pilots, überfan Nowlin portrays Williams as a true fighter, both on and off the field.

Moving on into the post-Williams era, The 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox tells of the year the team miraculously rose from ninth place to take the pennant for the first time in more than two decades, giving birth to the phenomenon known as Red Sox Nation. Opening day was one of the least well attended ever, but by July, a delirious crowd of thousands engulfed the Sox at Logan Airport as they returned from winning their eighth straight game. The book captures the excitement of that season with hundreds of rare photographs, notes from an impressive lineup of commentators, and a wealth of memorabilia.

The Snack Factor Diet: The Secret to Losing Weight—By Eating More

Crown Publishers

Failed dieters fall into two camps, says Glassman: those who snack poorly and those who don’t snack at all. She explains how the proper snacks—“nutrient-dense foods eaten at the right times of day”—can stabilize your mood, sharpen your wits, and stave off depression, all while keeping pounds off. Then she lays out a point-by-point plan for snacking success. Readers learn to tune into their hunger level; balance protein, carbohydrates, and fats; dish up reasonable portions; and become “bargain hunters,” choosing fare with more nutritional bang for their bite.

African Development: Making Sense of the Issues and Actors

Lynne Rienner Publishers

Moss often kicks off his Georgetown University courses on African development with what he calls a no-question-is-too-dumb session. Now he brings his comprehensive knowledge to a wider audience. In his gloss on the current debates, he answers all our questions, plus some we never would have thought to ask. For example, he introduces some lesser-known key players, such as Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the president of tiny Equatorial Guinea. Thanks to oil reserves discovered in the 1990s, Obiang, who heads one of the most corrupt, oppressive regimes in the world, is also in charge of a rapidly growing economy.


Joseph Hurka

St. Martin’s Press

On the eve of 9/11, three very different people on a quiet street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, struggle to make peace with their past—an idealistic college student, a former World War II Resistance fighter who has suffered a stroke, and a sinister misfit who prowls the area spying on women. Before dawn, their stories converge in a climactic moment that reflects, on a personal level, the trauma the world as a whole will face in the hours to come. Joseph Hurka set out to write a novel of far more modest scope. But in the seven years between the first and the twenty-sixth draft of Before (St. Martin’s Press), life—and history—intervened.

“There was a weird fellow who would walk down my girlfriend’s street very quickly with a package under his arm. He would go up to women’s windows and stare for a moment and then go on. People thought, ‘Well, he’s just some nut,’ but then his visits became more frequent, and he would stay longer at the windows. And I began wondering, ‘What is in that package he’s carrying?’ That’s the thing that got the fiction writer in me going—he became a character, and I started writing from his point of view.

What brought 9/11 into the book was that I visited Ground Zero a year after the attacks, when it was still a horrific mess. I saw all the signs there from people trying to find loved ones. And I thought, ‘This is exactly like the stories I’ve heard about Europe after World War II, when the walls of the train stations had these sorts of signs pasted all over them.’ I realized that what I was looking at—what Al Qaeda had done—was what the Nazis had done. The annihilation and the terror were the same. And then I thought, ‘I want to understand what makes people terrorize other human beings.’ So all my writing on the character of strange guy, who I named Ghost-Man, started to be about that.

My father had fought against the Nazis and, later, the Communists in Czechoslovakia, and he had been imprisoned and tortured, but I had already written about that in my memoir Fields of Light. I thought of the novel as separate from Dad—until the last two years of his life, when he had his strokes, and I began writing in the hospital. Over time, another character, an old Polish landlord, merged with Dad, and I named him Jiri. When Jiri starts to relive terrible events that he had blocked out for years, I’m drawing on what my father went through. At one point Jiri has a brain hemorrhage and thinks he’s back in Prague during the uprising. That actually happened with Dad. The next morning, after he had recovered, he said to me, ‘I’m going to tell you about this because I think you’ll be able to use it in your book. You’re a writer. You have to use what’s around you.’ So I did.

Memory is a very important theme in the novel, because memory is the prelude to courage. If we can remember who we are and what’s important to us, then we can act on it when it’s threatened. That’s what enables Jiri to behave so heroically in the final scene. And it’s what will sustain the rest of us as well. Since 9/11, we’ve been forgetting who we are as Americans. The proof is that we now consider torture a possibility. My father was tortured, and I know that he didn’t fight all those years against Hitler and Stalin to come to a country where they thought torture was acceptable. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would never have been behind any of this. If we could remember that, we’d be OK.

Look inside

The Kid’s Book Club Book

Krupp Tarcher/Penguin

Book clubs are one of those adult pleasures that, for years, no one thought to try out on kids. But now, librarians, teachers, parents, and even kids themselves are realizing that talking about that great novel everyone has read is fun at any age. Maybe even as fun as (gasp!) TV or IM.

Still, those hosting the clubs can face challenges, not least of which is the dreaded ever-widening pause of discussion death. Then there’s that other scenario, the one in which a couple of chatterboxes dominate while everyone else stares out the window. What to do? In The Kids’ Book Club Book, Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp offer these suggestions.

Ask Group Members to Devise Questions. Assigning responsibility for coming up with questions gives members a stake in the discussion and will force some level of participation. In Janet Edwards’s Kirkwood, Missouri, mother-daughter book group, each girl develops discussion questions to share with the group.

Keep Journals. Encourage all club members to keep a journal in which they record before the meeting why they did or did not like the book, explain a favorite part of the book, or even sketch some illustrations. Jotting down notes helps members prepare for the discussion and easily allows everyone to participate in the beginning of the meeting. Nancy Zimble of Los Angeles says journals were especially important during the early days of her mother-daughter book club when some girls dominated discussions. Using journals gave the quieter girls opportunities to get more involved. “Not everyone could think or remember on the spot. Journals are a tool to help that process,” says Zimble.

Try a Group Synopsis. Ask members to take turns telling parts of the story. “Telling the story as a group is a good way to review the plotline,” says Claudia Jimenez, whose parent-child book group in Vero Beach, Florida, begins with a group synopsis. “It also leads to discussions about specific characters and conflicts.”

Rate the Book. Rating the book on a common scale at each meeting can encourage group members who do not participate actively to start talking. The members of Amy Hewes’s San Luis Obispo, California, book club rate the book from one to ten at the beginning of the group meeting, each member explains her vote, and then they rate the book again at the end of the discussion. “It’s fun to see how people’s opinions change through the discussion,” says Hewes.

Distribute Tasks Before the Meeting. You can involve multiple members in the conversation from the start by assigning research tasks. At the Simsbury (Connecticut) Public Library, Jackie Hemond facilitates a girls’ book club whose members volunteer for these tasks: “Feeders of the hungry” bring food associated with the book. The “word wizard” looks up and shares meanings of new vocabulary words. The “illuminator” pulls out the Big Ideas. The “connector” compares ideas in the book to other books and/or movies. The “questioner” comes up with open-ended questions (a maximum of five) to ask the other kids. The “character shrink” chooses one character to “psychoanalyze.” The “stateswoman” finds facts about the setting of the book. The “game warden” develops a short, fun activity connected with the book. The “gossip” tells a little something about the author.

Read Parts of the Book Aloud. Every member can take a turn reading or acting as a character. Jill Dean prints quotations from the book’s characters on slips of paper. She asks her middle school book club members in Wardsboro, Vermont, to draw the slips from a basket, and to use what they imagine to be the “voice” of the character being portrayed. “This prompts the kids to discuss what is happening in the story at that time and how the characters relate to each other,” says Dean. She then follows up with questions: “What do you think the character meant by that?” and “What do you think the character was feeling?”

Excerpted from The Kids’ Book Club Book, by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp. Copyright 2007. Excerpted by permission of Tarcher/Penguin. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Also of Note
Co-meditation, the Western form of an ancient Tibetan breathing ritual, eases the stress on dying patients and their caregivers. In Life to Death: Harmonizing the Transition (Healing Arts Press), RICHARD W. BOERSTLER, A45, a psychotherapist, and Hulen S. Kornfeld, a nurse, guide readers through this practice and offer invaluable information about the end of life. Business Process Outsourcing: Process, Strategies, and Contracts, Second Edition (Wiley), by JOHN K. HALVEY, A82, and Barbara Murphy Melby, advises firms on how to confront the complex, rapidly changing industry of outsourcing. In Reduced Circumstances: A Frank Cole Mystery (St. Martin’s Minotaur), by VINCENT H. O’NEIL, F96, a taxi dispatcher in the Florida Panhandle finds himself investigating a murder. The Landscape Diaries: Garden of Obsession (Ruder Finn Press), by GAYATRI CAROLE ROCHEROLLE, J67, is an inside look at the creation of the celebrated Steinhardt Gardens, in Mount Kisko, New York, complete with stunning photos. Heading to the Wedding (Red Rock Press), by SARA (FREED) SHACTER, J88, provides kids with a fun, goofy primer on wedding etiquette.  In Where the Blind Horse Sings: Love and Healing at an Animal Sanctuary (Skyhorse Publishing), KATHY STEVENS, J99, introduces the animals she and her team of volunteers have rescued from abuse, and shows us how, with the right care, they can thrive.

  © 2007 Tufts University Tufts Publications, 80 George St., Medford, MA 02155