For more than a decade, John Sexton has taught a wildly popular New York University course about two seemingly very different things: religion and baseball. Yet Sexton argues that one is actually a pathway to the other.
Baseball as a Road to God is about touching that something that lies beyond logical understanding. Sexton illuminates the surprisingly large number of mutual concepts shared between baseball and religion: faith, doubt, conversion, miracles, and even sacredness among many others.
Structured like a game and filled with riveting accounts of baseball’s most historic moments, Baseball as Road to God will enthrall baseball fans whatever their religious beliefs may be. In thought-provoking, beautifully rendered prose, Sexton elegantly demonstrates that baseball is more than a game, or even a national pastime: It can be a road to enlightenment.
Praying for Gil Hodges is built around a detailed reconstruction of the seventh game of the 1955 World Series, which has always been on the short list of great moments in baseball history. On a sunny, breezy October afternoon, something happened in New York City that had never happened before and never would again: the Brooklyn Dodgers won the world championship of baseball. For one hour and forty-four minutes, behind a gutsy, twenty-three-year-old kid left-hander from the iron-mining region of upstate New York named Johnny Podres, everything that had gone wrong before went gloriously right for a change. Until that afternoon, leaving out the war years, the Dodgers and their legions of fans had endured ten seasons during which they lost the World Series to the New York Yankees five times and lost the National League pennant on the final day of the season three times--- facts of history that give the famous cry of "Wait Till Next Year!" its defiant meaning.
Pitch by pitch and inning by inning, Thomas Oliphant re-creates a relentless melodrama that shows this final game in its true glory. As we move through the game, he builds a remarkable history of the hapless "Bums," exploring the Dodgers' status as a national team, based on their fabled history of near-triumphs and disasters that made them classic underdogs. He weaves into this brilliant recounting a winning memoir of his own family's story and their time together on that fateful day that the final game was played.
This victory thrilled the national African-American community, still mired in the evils of segregation, who had erupted in joy at the arrival of Jackie Robinson eight years earlier and rooted unabashedly for this integrated team at a time when the country was thoroughly segregated.
And it also thrilled a nine-year-old boy on the East Side of Manhattan in a loving, struggling family for whom the Dodgers were a rare source of the joys and symbols that bring families together through tough times.
Every once in a while a book provides a certain view of America, and whether it is The Greatest Generation, Big Russ & Me, or Wait Till Next Year, these works strike a chord with readers everywhere. Praying for Gil Hodges is such a book. Written with power and clarity, this is a brilliant work capturing the majesty of baseball, the issue of race in America, and the love that one young boy, his parents, and the borough of Brooklyn had for their team.
“Splendid…a gripping, authoritative campaign history.” —The Boston Globe
“Terrific…a tougher and more balanced account of the long campaign than anybody’s written yet.” —The Christian Science Monitor
A behind-the-scenes, revelatory account of John F. Kennedy’s wily campaign to the White House, beginning with his bold, failed attempt to win the vice presidential nomination in 1956. A young and undistinguished junior plots his way to the presidency and changes the way we nominate and elect presidents.
John F. Kennedy and his young warriors invented modern presidential politics. They turned over accepted wisdom that his Catholicism was a barrier to winning an election and plotted a successful course to that constituency. They hired Louis Harris—a polling entrepreneur—to become the first presidential pollster. They twisted arms and they charmed. They lined up party bosses, young enthusiasts, and fellow Catholics and turned the traditional party inside out. The last-minute invitation to Lyndon B. Johnson for vice president in 1956 surprised them only because they had failed to notice that he wanted it. They invented The Missile Gap in the Cold War and out-glamoured Richard Nixon in the TV debates.
Now acclaimed, award-winning journalists Tom Oliphant and Curtis Wilkie provide the most comprehensive account, based on a depth of personal reporting, interviews, and archives. The authors have examined more than 1,600 oral histories at the John F. Kennedy library; they’ve interviewed surviving sources, including JFK’s sister Jean Smith, and they draw on their own interviews with insiders including Ted Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
From the start of the campaign in 1955 when his father tried to persuade President Johnson to run with JFK as his running mate, The Road to Camelot reveals him as a tough, shrewd political strategist who kept his eye on the prize. This is one of the great campaign stories of all time, appropriate for today’s political climate.
It didn't even start with Iraq.
It was bigger than Iraq.
In fact, it was everything George W. Bush touched, from the very early flop on energy policy to the walking fiasco named Alberto Gonzales. Even adding the tragicomedy of Hurricane Katrina doesn't come close to describing the governmental catastrophe of the Bush administration. The collapse of the Bush presidency is a broadly acknowledged fact. Everyone who's anyone, from politicians to comedians, has taken shots at this ever-growing target. By any fair assessment, much of the past seven years has been disastrous. The challenge is to understand why.
Few analysts have stepped aside, abandoning easy hits and quick gibes, and analyzed the totality of the Bush Administration. Now, bestselling author Thomas Oliphant does just that. With his keen, experienced eye, he asks the simplest of questions: "How could some of the smartest, most experienced and politically savvy people in Washington screw up so badly?"
After all, this was the team led by a man with an MBA. They came to Washington with the mission to run the government in an orderly, businesslike manner. Instead, chaos has ensued. How did this happen?
From domestic policy to international goofs, from soaring energy prices to the health care crisis---Thomas Oliphant tackles it all, closely inspecting the initial projections and promises of Bush and his key senior officials, and the ways in which they lost control of these well-publicized and overconfident plans. By comparing their rhetoric to their dismal record, Oliphant provides a historic analysis of the Bush administration---showing how a system so seemingly competent and mechanized could fail so miserably, and with such frequency.
In the wake of the Republican loss of Congress and unmet promises for future change, and as the presidential campaign to choose Bush's successor heats up, Oliphant provides a rigorous examination of what went wrong and what this means for the next administration. Utter Incompetents is at its heart a searching look at the George W. Bush administration, its policies, and the legacy that it will leave behind on January 20, 2009.
It is also the substantive backdrop for the next president.