October 17, 2003: A night no Yankees or Red Sox fan will ever forget. At 12:15 am, bottom of the eleventh inning of game seven of the ALCS, New York third-baseman Aaron Boone launches a ball over Yankee Stadium's left-field fence. The Yankees win their 39th pennant, and send the perennially vexed Boston Red Sox home...again...suffering another devastating loss to their longtime nemesis.
October 20, 2004: A year later, an eerie reprise, but this time things are different. After losing three straight to the Yankees, Boston has charged back to win the next three, forcing a decisive game seven. From the start of the game Boston is in control, and by winning this game they march toward their first World Series victory since 1918.
With the razor-sharp instincts that have made him a top sports journalist, Mike Vaccaro delves into the history of the rollicking rivalry: a vicious collision in 1903 that draws first blood; the era of Babe Ruth and his legendary trade from the Red Sox to the Yankees, ushering in the notorious Curse; the golden age of DiMaggio and Williams; the unstoppable power of Mantle and Maris; the heart and soul of Fisk and Yazstremski versus Pinella and Munson; and the modern era of dueling owners, skyrocketing payrolls, and a renewed rivalry that attracts sell-out crowds even to Yankees-Red Sox spring training games.
Emperors and Idiots is as lively, fascinating, and raucous as the teams themselves, a must-have volume for any Yankees or Red Sox fan.
©2005 Mike Vaccaro; (P)2005 Books on Tape, Inc.
If you are looking for more on the early years, you may be disappointed. Does not mean that there is not some lead up, but it does focus a lot on the more recent years. Not all that bad either way.
Listening to Game 6 and 7 of the 2003 ALCS is near perfect. Each of the pitches that lead to the boiling point between Pedro/Zimmer to Aaron "Bleeping" Boone. It is like "watching" the games over and over, even though for the Sox fan, it can be like ripping a band-aid off very slowly...
if you love the yankees or the red sox -- or just a good story about baseball -- you gotta listen to this. no other book out there takes you behind the scenes in the greatest rivalry in sports like this one.
Great content, great subject, well-written and very well-narrated, but disjointed and lacks closure.
As an enthusiastic but not eccentric Red Sox fan, I enjoyed this book, but it could have been much better simply by changing the structure.
This book is written the way most newspaper sports articles are structured. (Considering the author is a NYT columnist, this shouldn't be a surprise.) Vaccaro ropes you in with the denouement up front, then steps back and starts filling in the details. That's a perfectly good approach to start with -- the problem is that, it's not laid out chronologically. Throughout the 13 plus hours, we jump repeated back and forth countless times like a game of pong, trying to keep tabs on what decade we're in and which generation of Sox and Yankees players we're talking about. Even for someone who knows the back story, it's hard to follow, there's no flow, and the herky-jerk approach really makes it hard to get fully invested in the book.
I've never been a fan of this sort of writing in newspapers in the first place, and it really doesn't translate to a work of this length. It's like the author doesn't respect the audience enough to trust that he can hold our attention. All the while, he's forgetting that we aren't skimming newspaper headlines -- we're reading a book and he shouldn't feel the need to keep waving something new at us to keep us engaged.
Also, as others have pointed out, the book doesn't finish the story of the 2004 season. Yes, I realize the Cardinals aren't the subject of this book, but that year was chosen as the end point of the book for good reason. Without the Red Sox world series victory, the 'curse' doesn't end. This feels like a natural part of the book and is strangely missing.
Simply put, if the book was exactly the same, except re-edited to lay it out chronologically like a conventional biography or history, the experience would be much better. If you can get past that issue and let Scott Brick work with what's given to him, you can still enjoy this book. It's a great effort, but manages to stumble somewhere between third base and home plate.
This book told me some things I didn't know about the Yankees/Red Soxs rivalry. But it really wasn't about the end of the curse. The curse wasn't beating the Yankees for the American League Title, it was beating the St Louis Cardinals and actually winning the World Series. If the Cardinals hadn't been defeated, the curse would have still existed. After all, the Red Soxs had been to the World Series before, only to lose. This book didn't talk about the World Series at all, leaving me disappointed in the book. I wanted to know the skinny about that series too. I feel like a person who had a good meal, but didn't get the dessert too!
This book goes back and forth way too much. Its hard to keep up with the narrative string. It would have been a much better book if it had any organization.
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