Sunday, July 19, 2009

Novel notes: "For Love of the Game"

Well, John, I tried to get my hands on some of the John R. Tunis books you mentioned in this post, but alas, no luck. They're definitely on my baseball reading list, though.

In the meantime, I've started to read Michael Shaara's "For Love of the Game." Shaara is most famous for writing the epic Civil War novel "The Killer Angels" (his son, Jeff, continued in that vain and has penned several Civil War novels himself, and also wrote the introduction to "For Love of the Game").

I'd never read Shaara's Civil War classic. Unlike my father and brother, I'm not enchanted by the Civil War like I am with baseball. My dad and brother stop at every - EVERY - Civil War battlefield they pass. I don't know why, but I just can't do it. Battlefields don't feel special to me, like they obviously do for a lot of people.

Before starting "For Love of the Game," I had started to wonder why a Civil War author would write a baseball book. But I don't really think it's that much of a stretch. Take, for example, the greatest documentarian of our time, Ken Burns. He's chronicled baseball and the Civil War in multi-part films.

There's nothing more American than baseball. And there's no more significant event in American history than the Civil War. Burns sees that; Shaara saw that.

One more note, to add to John's baseball-as-religion topic. I mentioned in the comments section that it's interesting to see how baseball novelists look at religion. Noteworthy in "For Love of the Game" - the main character's name is Billy Chapel.

It's difficult to believe that wasn't a conscious choice on Shaara's part.

--Matt Kelsey

1 comment:

  1. We stop at Civil War battlefields to walk where "they" walked. For a long time I didn't get this, it wasn't until I was standing in George Washington's bedroom at Mount Vernon when I had to duck to get through the door when it dawned on me that George Washington had to duck to get through that same door. Then it all became real.


    Shaara has also written about the Mexican War, Revolutionary War, and WWI. In all of these books, he takes on the persona of the different "characters". His historical books really help to make history "come alive".