Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Morning Review of Book Reviews

Been awhile, but here is a sampling of reviews from the London Times Literary Supplement that I found worth reading:

London's counterculture from just after World War II was far more difficult to sustain without a First Amendment right to freedom of speech and association. Still, it managed to affect not only the rest of British society, but likely was influential to Americans, who again at least had the First Amendment to protect against too many overzealous police and politicians. It did not stop for example the FBI in its entirety. There was still spying, but not as much in the way of prior restraint or seizing of materials.

Also, there is an interesting review of books about Barbie dolls, women's self-awareness and relationships that too many American politicians and pundits remain rather oblivious about. Fashion and fascism strike me over the years as being more closely related than just the sound of the two words. Women are far more oppressed by fashion than men are, and it cannot help but affect women's performance in the workplace and their attitudes towards any number of subjects.

Zooming around, it is becoming more difficult for those of us in the 21st Century to imagine the excitement for those in the 19th Century to attend the theater, as we sit in front of our computers and televisions with their instant and incessant entertainment. This review is of a book about a then-famous early 19th Century clown, Joseph Grimaldi, who gained renown throughout England and Europe, and whose posthumously published biography was edited by none other than Charles Dickens (the article begins with Grimaldi's friendship with Lord Byron, the Romantic poet). We have our modern equivalents, of course, but the thrill of seeing someone live was far more exciting in a world where there was no computer, no television, no radio or other form of mass communication.

Finally, here is a nice, compact review in the Washington Post of a new book on the games played by Major League white baseball players against Negro League players in the 1930s and 1940s, before the advent of Jack "Jackie" Robinson. As a major fan of the Negro Leagues (I am often seen on summer weekends in my black t-shirts saluting respectively, the Homestead Grays and the Kansas City Monarchs), this has long been an interest of mine. It is good that someone has written a book devoted to how the white and black players competed against each other in that time, with an accent on my heroes like James Cool Papa Bell and Josh Gibson. Still, I sense the reviewer may be correct in the shortcomings of the book reviewed...Oh well. There will be more written on this subject over time.

(Edited)

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