Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Novel notes: "The Veracruz Blues." Plus, a great book on a terrible war

A couple months ago, I mentioned on this blog that I'd exhuasted my personal baseball fiction library. Not long ago I discovered I was wrong. I was overlooking a baseball novel, and a good one at that: Mark Winegardner's "The Veracruz Blues."

In John Lofflin's baseball fiction class, this book was an "optional" read, but in the pantheon of baseball fiction "The Veracruz Blues" holds a special place in that part of the book is narrated by a woman - the only baseball book, to my knowledge, with this distinction.

More about "The Veracruz Blues" later. But now, truly, I HAVE exhausted my baseball library, and once again I'm open to suggestions on what to read next in the series.

In the meantime, I'll mention another great book I recently read: Jon Krakauer's "Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman." As you may know, Pat Tillman was a football player for the Arizona Cardinals when, after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, he became an Army ranger. A few years later he was killed in Afghanistan, and his enlistment and heroic death were held up by conservative pundits as a model of patriotic glory.

The truth, though, is far, far different. Pat Tillman vehemently refused to let the Army and the Bush Administration put him on a pedestal (even though they did anyway, both before and after his death). What's worse, Tillman was actually killed by friendly fire, a fact the Army tried to cover up so as not to sully the fabricated story of their most well-known fallen hero.

It's one of those books that makes you sad and pissed off and furious all at once. The book is not only the story of Pat Tillman's amazing life but also a scathing critique of the Bush administration. As such, I consider it a must-read.

--Matt Kelsey

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