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5.0 out of 5 starsExcellent. Everything as described
Reviewed in the United States on December 13, 2014
When this book first came out back in 1990, it was a five star effort by Madden and Klein. The Yankees were about to finish in last place, a ruined team, and George Steinbrenner had just been banned from the game by Commissioner Fay Vincent. The tone of the book was how Steinbrenner as owner had at the time, run the franchise into the ground after the brief period of glory in 1977-78. In terms of placing the era in context of how things had gotten to that point, this book served a valuable purpose.
Today, the book has been reissued, and frankly it no longer serves the same purpose because Yankee history in the twenty years following the book took a startling new turn. First, the rebuilding of the franchise by GM Gene Michael, followed by the return of a much mellower Boss in 1993. Then, the return to postseason in 1995, followed by the Joe Torre dynasty era of 1996-2003, and then by the time of Steinbrenner's death, one more championship in 2009. The Yankees were no longer a franchise that had been ruined by Steinbrenner, but in the total picture of his 37 years of ownership, had become more successful than ever.
Because of that, a reissuing of this book really serves no purpose UNLESS it were accompanied by a new afterword or a new chapter putting the years since the book's publication in context and with Klein and Madden acknowledging that some of their assessments no longer stand the test of time. Unfortunately this is not what has happened. Apart from a very brief and cursory paragraph at the beginning, the 1990 book has been reissued as it was. The end result is ultimately a book on the Steinbrenner era that is as incomplete as a book on World War II published before D-Day that was never updated in a reissuing years later. So the question that should be asked is: Why? The only reason I can think of is that Klein and Madden evidently want people out there to remember just how hated a figure Steinbrenner was at the time in 1990 by giving up a picture of Yankee history under the Boss up to that point, and to make us think twice about assessing him in a more positive light today. But regardless of what the real reason is, the end result is a book that serves no purpose other than to give us a more durable copy for the shelves than an old paperback version from 20 years ago does. "Damned Yankees" is useful only for capturing a picture of the Yankees at one point in time, but time has since rendered its thesis obsolete and irrelevant to any true understanding of the Steinbrenner era in toto. Simple integrity and fairness on Klein and Madden's part required taking the time to write a new in-depth chapter for this edition to acknowledge things and to then present it upfront as a snapshot of a bygone moment. Beacuse they don't do that, this reissue of what was once a great book, can only get three stars this time out.