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Matt Reed
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Joined: 16 April 2004
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Posted: 08 August 2021 at 12:55am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

 Tim O'Neill wrote:
And again I have to point out that this is not so much a thread about books, but a series of pictures of shitty book cover art with very little in the way of substantive information or discussion about the books themselves.

To be fair, I never started this as a deep dive about books we want to discuss, but one in which we could recommend books we have recently enjoyed.  Supplying the cover art helps when trying to identify something that we'd like to purchase!  I just did it, in fact, because it's a shorthand for those who are interested.  

I do, however, agree that the main forum has enough stickied threads and doesn't need another one.  This one has resurfaced enough over a decade that I think those who look for it are finding it.  
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James Best
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Posted: 16 August 2021 at 10:52am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Finished this one late last night. Winner of the 2015 Casey Award as the Best Baseball Book of the Year this is a well-crafted biography that dispels rumors, exposes frauds, and sheds new light on the smear campaign (in both film and print) that has falsely portrayed Ty Cobb as a racist villain for over a century.

Neither tyrant nor saint, Cobb was a complicated man who played baseball in an aggressive style that made him controversial and admired across the nation, but also made him a target for myths and lies that have undermined both his reputation and his legacy as the greatest player of the dead-ball era. He retired owning ninety MLB records and is on every baseball historian’s shortlist as one of the greatest players in history.

This biography provides a clear view of his life both on and off the diamond and is certainly worth the time for those baseball fans here on the JBF. Highly recommended.



Edited by James Best on 16 August 2021 at 10:48pm
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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 16 August 2021 at 11:07am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

A little over half way through the Stephen King book The Institute. Usually known for attention to detail he makes a few needless illogical setup decisions early on that aren't paying off so far, I guess we'll see, but obviously still a good read. Perhaps not every reader will have read or watched as much about young people with powers as myself and others here. Still, I think there is pressure these days to produce thick books and quality control might not be quite what it had been earlier, plus there is a piece at the back about the loss of a man who used to help him a lot with research and detail. The bad guys are often a bit broadly simply bad, but that's like saying something shows terrorists without much depth... it still will feel good when they pay! :^)

So there's no Professor X or Tomorrow People, not even a Hellfire Club, and the non-powered baddies are grabbing sometimes very young kids and treating them horrifically to have their 'powers' forced for their use, until they burn out entirely. There's one very smart 12 year old with almost everything he's even known or loved taken away, an aging housekeeper lady with terminal cancer, and an ex-cop in a small town for the good side versus a whole lot of bad with agents and ears everywhere; that's the basic setup of The Institute.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 16 August 2021 at 1:43pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

 James Best wrote:
]Neither tyrant nor saint, Cobb was a complicated man
It does seem a lot of Cobb's formidably nasty reputation was fabricated by ghost biographer Al Stump. James, in Leerhsen's book is there anything that sheds a different light on the infamous story of Cobb assaulting a disabled New York Highlanders fan?


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James Best
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Posted: 16 August 2021 at 11:15pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

It does seem a lot of Cobb's formidably nasty reputation was fabricated by ghost biographer Al Stump. James, in Leerhsen's book is there anything that sheds a different light on the infamous story of Cobb assaulting a disabled New York Highlanders fan?

************************************************************ ********************

Leerhsen does provide a lot of detail about the disabled fan, although he was less a fan and more of a political gofer who went to ballgames and drank when he wasn't running errands. I won't say that Cobb was without blame regarding the incident, but the author does a very good job of describing how vicious and rowdy baseball fans were at the time. The fan in question had been verbally abusing Cobb from the stands during earlier games in the Tigers/Highlander series. He was also warned by other Detroit players to stop his abuse of Cobb. He didn't get the message, and it finally pushed Cobb over the edge.

As for Al Stump, you are correct that he fabricated multiple lies about Cobb in order to sell what was basically a smear job biography. Stump had a bad rep as a writer due to his tendency to write fiction instead of fact. He was banned by both The Saturday Evening Post and Reader's Digest when their fact-checking departments caught up with him.

Stump and his publisher (Doubleday) kept copies of the completed biography away from Cobb, who was in his last days, expecting that if they held him off long enough Cobb would pass away and they could publish what Stump had made up. Cobb did manage to get ahold of a copy and went ballistic over its tone and content. He tried to prevent the book from being published but he passed away in July 1961 and Doubleday published Stump's garbage four months later. 

With most of Cobb's peers and friends having already passed away, there was no one to contradict the content of Stump's fictional bio. Stump even stole items from Cobb's house and forged his signature on fake documents that he then sold as "authentic" Cobb baseball memorabilia. But by the time the fraud was exposed, it was too late. The damage had been done and Stump's portrayal of Cobb as a racist monster got stuck in the public conscience. Stump even got hired as a consultant for the 1994 "Cobb" movie (starring Tommy Lee Jones) and no one bothered to check whether his source material was accurate. When Ken Burns' baseball documentary aired that same year, Stump's lies were nested in its content as well.

Towards the end of the book, Leerhsen admits that he was in the anti-Cobb camp before he started doing his own research. The more he dug into Cobb's backstory the less he started to trust Stump and other previous biographers, who demonized Cobb without doing any real research or fact-checking. Most of the baseball forums I follow have done a 180 degree turn on their views on Cobb, based mostly on Leerhsen's work. I strongly recommend it to any baseball fan.

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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 17 August 2021 at 10:13am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I will definitely be checking it out. 

Right now I want to find a copy of ARNOLD ROTHSTEIN AND THE 1919 BLACK SOX, by Charles River. 
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 18 August 2021 at 9:26am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Bought it several years ago, but only last night finished The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury.

Started it a long time ago, but stopped after only a little way in. Then went back to it recently and started from the beginning again.

I remember small snippets from watching the TV version of this an age ago when I was a small child and was amused to see these bits crop up in some recognisable form. I also remember the TV series being extremely po-faced, which is at odds with the tone of much of the book. It does get weighty by the end, but much of the book is almost whimsical, especially near the beginning.

Bradbury has a lovely way with language, though his characters are often not that memorable. I was also interested to discover that the book was largely put together from a substantial amount of pre-published stories.


Edited by Peter Martin on 18 August 2021 at 9:27am
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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 18 August 2021 at 11:29am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

There had been Bradbury short stories loosely linked. The market for shorts stories was large back then in magazines. His The Illustrated Man was more a straight collection, but he loosely linked them together with the title character conceit of a tattooed figure. A lot of the great SF novels used aspects of earlier shorter pieces, like Philip K. Dick's Days Of Perky Pat went into his The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch. Things in Galaxy magazine were often altered by it's original editor Horace Gold too and people like Heinlein wanted the works presented as they had intended, so you got a lot of material from there retitled and on their own as novels. Bradbury wrote for the higher quality magazines (that paid more and didn't mess with him) later on, but for the parts of Martian Chronicles that went to the genre or pulp magazines it's interesting to wonder how much of a plan for later publication as a book he might have had all along.
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James Best
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Posted: 05 September 2021 at 11:16pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

This was another terrific and twisty stand-alone mystery by Robert Goddard that I am going to add to my permanent library once I can track down a hardcover edition.

An elderly woman seeks to discover the truth about her parents, but to do so she must dig up the histories of two men who died in World War I. One is her father, the other his best friend. Both died in combat, one at the Battle of the Somme the other at Passchendaele. But both of them would discover love, secrets, murder, and evil on the home front that would outweigh the horrors they confronted on the battlefield.

Mr. Goddard is certainly the best thriller writer I have discovered this year.
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James Best
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Posted: 15 September 2021 at 11:26pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Now sampling some older stuff from the syndicated cartoon strip "Non Sequitur" by Wiley Miller. Started and finished this one earlier today.
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James Best
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Posted: 15 September 2021 at 11:27pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

And finished this one the day before. Great stuff. Wish the artist would publish more collections, but he seems to be online only nowadays.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 22 September 2021 at 1:42pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Finished last night The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I somehow have got into the habit of starting a book and then leaving it and then coming back for a second pass much later on, which was the case with this one.

This book makes a lot of 'best of...' lists, but I don't see it as all that. It's well constructed and the twist is very twisty indeed, but but for a couple of notable exceptions, the characters are pretty thin. It's in many ways like a paradigm for Cluedo, which is fun, but there is also something mechanical about the whole thing, like Christie is turning the cogs and springs of her various clues and red herrings purely as a means to springing her well-oiled surprise. 
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