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Thursday bantering- off season reading

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Baseball books and more

Jimmy Piersall

The baseball season is over for another year. Sure we have the Winter Meetings in a month, but as i don’t follow basketball, hockey or NFL (and the rugby season is over here in NZ), I ask myself what do I occupy my time with now??

The answer is reading. Between now and April there are many months to avail myself of new and interesting books as i count down the days until Spring Training (113 in case you’re interested).

Below is my reading list. I like to have a good mix of sports, current affairs and history:

Fear Strikes Out- the Jim Piersall Story - Jim Piersall and Al Hirshberg

Written at a very young age, after he’d only been an established major-league baseball player for three full seasons, it chronicles Jim Piersall’s struggles with mental illness. During his 17-year baseball career Piersall made two all-star teams and won two Gold Gloves as the top defensive center fielder in the American League. But he was better known for his comical and sometimes disturbing antics. He argued with umpires, fought opposing players, climbed a flagpole during a game, once ran around the bases backward after hitting a home run, and burst into tears in the dugout.

He was considered such a disruptive force that the Red Sox demoted him and ultimately sent him away for treatment. In 1952 he spent almost two months in psychiatric hospitals, where he received electroshock therapy and was sometimes restrained in a straitjacket.

A book that was way ahead of its time when released and still a timely read given the pressures and issue facing modern athletes today with regard to mental health.

The Fifth Risk - Michael Lewis

The author of Moneyball, The Blind Side and The Big Short asks what does government do for us? Do we really need it? What happens if government ceases to do those things? By drilling down into the day-to-day realities in a handful of little-recognized federal agencies, Lewis convincingly demonstrates how government protects us from some of “the most alarming risks facing humanity.” He relates the dangers we (and the world as a whole) now face as the direct result of inattention, greed, and misguided policy by the Trump Administration.

Im a few chapters in and frankly, im terrified already...

Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures - Heidi Postlewait, Kenneth Cain and Doctor Andrew Thomson.

The memoir of three young people who join the United Nations (UN) in Cambodia with a dream of making the world a better place. The three stories weave through the years from Cambodia, to Somalia, Haiti, Rwanda, Bosnia and Liberia. This is the first account from UN workers on the front line and an honest memoir about the successes and failures of the UN.

Apparently its pretty sobering, showing the good intentioned yet inadequately managed and borderline corrupt practices at the heart of the UN.

Enigma; The Battle for the Code - Hugh Sebag-Montefiore

Winston Churchill called the cracking of the German Enigma Code “the secret weapon that won the war.” British journalist Hugh-Sebag-Montefiore reveals the complete story of the breaking of the code by the Allies; the breaking that played a crucial role in the outcome of World War II. details about the genesis of the code, little-known facts about how the Poles first cracked the Luftwaffe’s version of the code (and then passed it along to the British), and the feverish activities at Bletchley Park (top-secret home of the Codebreakers) and the team lead by the legendary Alan Turing.

I have a personal interest in this story as a good friend of my mother’s was born at Bletchey Park and her parents worked with Alan Turing.

The Great and Holy War: How World War I Changed Religion For Ever - Philip Jenkins

This details how religion created and then prolonged the First World War; a period that marked a traumatic crisis for Western civilization, with effects that echoed throughout the rest of the twentieth century. It shows how widespread belief in angels and apparitions, visions and the supernatural was a driving force throughout the war and shaped all three of the major religions—Christianity, Judaism and Islam—paving the way for modern views of religion and violence.

The disappointed hopes and moral compromises that followed the war also shaped the political climate of the rest of the century, giving rise to Nazism, totalitarianism, and communism.

This is not a light read so i’m saving it until last...

What’s on your list for off season reading? Feel free to share below.