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Summer Of '49 [Paperback]

David Halberstam
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 27 2006

With incredible skill, passion, and insight, Pulitzer Prize–winningauthor David Halberstam returns us to a glorious time when the dreams of a now almost forgotten America rested on the crack of a bat.

The year was 1949, and a war-weary nation turned from the battlefields to the ball fields in search of new heroes. It was a summer that marked the beginning of a sports rivalry unequaled in the annals of athletic competition. The awesome New York Yankees and the indomitable Boston Red Sox were fighting for supremacy of baseball's American League, and an aging Joe DiMaggio and a brash, headstrong hitting phenomenon named Ted Williams led their respective teams in a classic pennant duel of almost mythic proportions—one that would be decided in an explosive head-to-head confrontation on the last day of the season.


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With the airwaves saturated with so much sporting choice, it's hard to imagine how, not that long ago, baseball so completely dominated the landscape and captured imaginations. Given the 1949 season that veteran journalist David Halberstam meticulously recreates, maybe it's not so hard after all. It was a season of great public and personal drama for the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, with the conflict finally resolving itself in a Yankee pennant following a head-to-head showdown on the final day of the season. Each team was led by a star of the highest magnitude: Joe DiMaggio spurred the Yankees despite missing half the season with a foot injury; Ted Williams virtually carried the Sox on his back, missing an unprecedented third Triple Crown by mere decimal points on his batting average. Halberstam focuses much of his narrative on the trials of these two individual sporting giants, adding fine supporting performances by Yogi Berra, Ellis Kinder, Dom DiMaggio, even restaurateur Toots Shoor. Both on and off the field, Halberstam beautifully captures the ethos of a more innocent game that no longer exists, played by heroes far more driven by their pride than by their salaries. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This book is ostensibly about the pennant race between the Yankees and Red Sox that year and the "rivalry" between Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. But, as he did in Breaks of the Game (LJ 11/15/81) and The Amateurs (LJ 7/85), Halberstam focuses on a season and studies an era. Baseball came of age in the summer of 1949. Postwar America looked to baseball for a sense of normalcy in its life; television began to have an impact on the sport; Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. Summer of '49 is more than a collection of anecdotes. It is a study of all the elements and personalities that influenced baseball that year and beyond. Halberstam brings them together in such an enjoyable, interesting, and informative manner that a reader needn't be a baseball fan to appreciate the book.
- Martin J. Hudacs, Towanda H.S., Pa.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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In the years immediately following World War II, professional baseball mesmerized the American people as it never had before and never would again. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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5.0 out of 5 stars When they were Kings July 29 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great book on a past time when men were men and leadership was not only present in words. The best baseball book that I have read. A piece of Americana.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There's something missing here Jan. 8 2003
Format:Paperback
Prize-winning journalist David Halberstam tells the story of the 1949 American League pennant race. Or at least, he tells his story of the race, with a little help from his friends, the baseball players that he interviewed forty years later.
Early on, Halberstam reveals his original perspective on the season in question -- as a pre-adolescent Yankees fan, listening to the games on his radio. He finds several other fans of the day, and gets them to recount the meaning of baseball to their young lives. This perspective is important, because this is where the myth of these giant players began. And then much later on, Halberstam, now a prominent journalist, decided to recreate the myth, but to also use his tools as a journalist to get a glimpse of the forces behind the myths.
We are talking, here, about giants that strode the earth. And the giants that manipulated their salaries, and the giants that wrote about them. They are all very pale giants. Halberstam shows us the managerial politics, the salary negotiations, the long road up from the minor leagues. He shows us the families of the players, he shows us the grisly wear and tear of the long season. He shows the bars, with their newly installed televisions. Climactically, he shows us the amazing conclusion of the 1949 regular season, and its devastating impact on the Red Sox.
He also inadvertently shows us what was missing. As an afterthought, one of the latter chapters details the 1949 World Series. There, the Yankees make mincemeat of the semi-integrated Brooklyn Dodgers. Oddly, though, the tale of the black Dodgers playing in Yankee Stadium is the most electrifying in the book. That energy, that tension, is clearly what's missing from everything that goes earlier.
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5.0 out of 5 stars DiMaggio vs Williams April 25 2004
Format:Paperback
This very easily readable book is about the pennant race between perennial rivals Yankees and Red Sox. Half way through the season the Yankees lead the Red Sox by at least ten games but the Sox make an amazing comeback. The last game of the season will decide who will play the Dodgers in the World Series....
Besides being a beautiful account of the 1949 season it is also a nice biography of all the players involved. An ailing Joe DiMaggio, a young Yogi Berra, a brilliant Williams and Kinder
and Doerr. Great names from a great era.
With this book Halberstam again has shown that in America serious historians can also write about baseball, America's national pasttime.
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4.0 out of 5 stars best moment in baseball March 22 2004
Format:Paperback
I think that this book is one of the best baseball books that I have ever read. I think that people who want to know about the history of the Red Sox and the Yankees should read this book. This book is about the1939 to 1949 seasons. It talks about a number of players and it explains everything that they had to go through before they got into the major leagues. The players are all from the Yankees and the Red Sox. Also, it is very interesting because it talks about how hot it was in 1948 while they were playing baseball. I think that all Yankees and Red Sox fans should read this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "Classic Baseball" Aug. 28 2003
Format:Paperback
At times while reading Halberstam's book, it felt as if the literature came to life as if I were watching the final game on ESPN Classic. Halberstam's picture illustrations of players and team personell only reinforces his compelling account of one of the most intense and exciting pennant chases of all-time. Both clubs experienced distraction during that summer; New York, injury proned to DiMaggio and others. Boston, seemed to have "eggo-identities" with some players. In addition, the great Ted Williams had constant issues with the Boston media and fans, which only interfered with their quest to capture the pennant. Although New York sustained a better Front-Office than Boston in 1949, both organizations remained adamant by refusing to sign minority players to thier rosters. Maybe, if the Boston Front-Office would have up-graded thier pitching staff, history would have written a different page. Overall, I enjoyed another Halberstam classic, it is definitley a keeper for baseball historians alike.
-AllotofVision-
Marshall University
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