maandag 29 juli 2013

The Echoing Green: Review

The Echoing Green: the untold story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the shot heard around the world by Joshua Prager is a book first published in 2006, 55 years after that heartbreaking moment.
It's 350 pages are not easily digested. The writer painstakingly introduces every character and fact that had something to do with the moment itself and the period leading up to it. Sometimes you think 'what do I care', sometimes the background information is very interesting. The history of baseball signs and the act of sign stealing make for a great chapter. The half a page spent on the description of the Wollensak used by the Giants during part of the 1951 season is boring. Page after page about people like Schenz, Yvars and Franks, their history and their role in the scheme is a bit dry, but it's the positioning of the pawns that lead up to the foul play. Then the book turns into a biography, weaving the lives of Branca and Thomson alinea after alinea. To my taste a bit too detailed since I didn't choose this book to read so much about the two leads in the drama but about the drama itself. Still, I guess you can't give a dramatic ending to any drama when the leads are like card board. And the book ís called 'Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the shot heard around the world', so I could have known.
After the biography chapter (12) comes the story of the play off games between Brooklyn and New York which ends with that blast to left that was heard around the world. After this, the books sort of runs out of steam. As a Dodger fan I don't really care what EVERY newspaper in the world had to say about the blast by Thomson.
Then the aftermath. How Thomson and Branca cope with this moment in time for the rest of their lives. Great insights in their lives, especially after the rumors of sign stealing get louder. Their friendship and animosity through the years and the awareness that they will be, forever, linked to that moment and through that, to each other.
Like I said: not an easy but it's a very well researched book, could be a thesis, with 66 pages of notes, 41 pages with bibliography!

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