I don't have a love of baseball, but I have an appreciation for it since I married a baseball fan and am raising a baseball fanatic. When we heard Jim Bouton on a radio program, my husband said he read Ball Four when he was a teenager and remembered it being a good book, so I thought I'd listen to it. Jim Bouton, telling his own stories, was a riot, especially when he couldn't keep from laughing at some of the antics of his teammates during the telling. I thoroughly enjoyed this book because it was a real insiders look at the clubhouse workings of baseball in the mid-century of the game. Bouton tells about people I remember from my childhood as former baseball players, so getting to know them as active players was delightful.
It is really sad that so many in baseball turned against Bouton for his tell-all book, the first of many written by other baseball players and managers. There was nothing in the narrative that would cause an outsider to make any value judgements on any of the players, thereby justifying their shunning of Bouton. And while Ball Four is a complete story on its own, "The Final Pitch" part contains material from the 10-year anniversary re-release (Ball Five) and the 20-year re-release (Ball Six). Jim Bouton brings the real, human perspective of the effects a career in baseball has on a person in the final chapters of The Final Pitch.
I recommend Ball Four: The Final Pitch to anyone with any level of appreciation for baseball because it will bring untouchable players off the field and into your heart.
Not having read the print version, nor seen the TV mini-series, I chose to listen to the audio version of "The Winds of War" for the freedom to travel and move about while enjoying the story. Herman Wouk did a believable job of adding Victor Henry into the history of World War II, creating a character that I had to remind myself was fictional. The fantastical meeting of the major leaders of the European Axis and being a high-level errand boy for FDR was quite good. There were a few loose ends that I wish had been tied up, but for the sake of the story, that probably wasn't necessary.
The narrator, Kevin Pariseau, has sharp quality to his voice that took me some time to get used to, but it was a good fit for this story. His accents were generally quite good, but a few times I had to pay close attention to which character was speaking as Aaron Jastro sometimes had a British accent and other times a New York accent. All in all, however, he used his voice to paint believable characteristics of people we could only hear and not see.
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