• Emperors and Idiots

  • The Hundred-Year Rivalry Between the Yankees and the Red Sox
  • By: Mike Vaccaro
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 13 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 03-21-05
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Books on Tape
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (54 ratings)

Regular price: $27.93

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Publisher's Summary

The New York Yankees. The Boston Red Sox. For a hundred years, no two teams have locked horns as fiercely or as frequently, and no two seasons frame the colossal battle more perfectly than 2003 and 2004. Now, with incredible energy and access, leading sports columnist Mike Vaccaro chronicles the history of the greatest rivalry in sports, and the two stunning American League Championship Series that define a century of baseball.

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.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Dan
  • Snoqualmie, WA, USA
  • 04-17-05

Best rivalry in sports, solid listen (Go Sox!)

If you are looking for more on the early years, you <b><i>may</b></i> 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...

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

the only thing better is being at the ballpark

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Solid entertaining way to learn about the history

What did you love best about Emperors and Idiots?

The narration was perfect for the tone of the book. He spoke as if blood was going to be shed at any moment. It kept me engaged and made big moments thrilling.

What did you like best about this story?

I liked learning all the fine details about the big moments in the history of the rivalry. This book really emphasized all the big moments in the history and broke down games that lead up to them. I watched nearly every inning of the 2003 and 2004 ALCS however, I was so young that I don't remember all the details that led up to the big highlights in those series. Vaccaro goes through all the specifics that led up to every big highlight in these series, and it's awesome revisiting everything.

Any additional comments?

The main story line of the book is the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Vaccaro breaks down everything about the two teams from 2003 to the end of 2004, and his way of teaching about the history dating back to 1904 was through tangents that stemmed from something that happened during those two seasons that reminded him of things that happened in the past. It was an odd way of informing everyone of the history, and often times made you annoyed because you just wanted to hear what was going to happen next in the main story line (The 03 and 04 seasons), but it's a difficult thing to write about chronologically, while keeping readers entertained. I'm not sure if this is the most effective way to teach everyone about the history of the rivalry, but it makes sense that he did, since this book was written the year after the sox won.

The book pretty much pitied the Red Sox all the way to the final few pages, when the Sox won game 7 in 04. I feel like the pity was played up a bit much at times, but if this is the way the team was really perceived by the majority, I have no problem with it, I was just looking for the most accurate history, and I wasn't around for most of the history myself.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A must-read for Sox fans!

Great narration, even better storytelling. It will bring you back to the turbulent ALCS matchups of 2003 and 2004 -- and take you even further back to 1978, 1948, and 1904. By the end you really feel you understand what makes the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry so special.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good but not great. (A triple, not a home run)

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.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Not complete!

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!

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

A mess

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.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Donald
  • Miami, FL, USA
  • 04-06-05

Great Book Even If You're Not A Red Sox Fan

This book was a joy to listen to.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful