Books and Magazines

Jeff’s Road Trip Reading List – February 2nd, 2014

As most of you already heard, I ended up spending a whole lot of time on the road last month and that gave me an opportunity for more audiobook listening than usual.

Fantasy Life - Matthew BerryFantasy Life (2013) by Matthew Berry, Read by the Author – Riverhead Books

I know my buddy Robbie out in L.A. loves to bust my chops because I enjoy fantasy sports yet Matthew Berry’s look at the world of helps deflate Rob’s argument the hobby is just for a bunch of geeks. Fantasy Life is not only filled with entertaining stories about people and the games they play but also the Talented Mr. Roto’s rise from a working Hollywood screenwriter to ESPN fantasy guru.

Playing fantasy baseball, football, basketball, hockey, or even sumo wrestling is a rampant obsession in America and millions of relatively normal people use the hobby to increase their enjoyment of their favorite sports.

While I might not agree with some of the insinuations that fantasy sports can save your life this is still a fun listen with a good deal of chuckle out loud moments!

Bums - Peter GolenbockBums: An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers (1984) by Peter Golenbock, Read by Raymond Todd – Dover Publications

Yes, I’m a life long Cubs fan (cut me and I bleed Cub blue) but I love the classic baseball of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s including the Casey Stengal Yankees but there’s just something about the love affair Brooklyn fans had with their Dodgers. Golenbock presents the relationship of the borough with her team with real passion and I have to point out I’ve listened to this production quite a few times over the years as it’s one of my favorite sports related audiobooks.

I’m sure loads of Brooklynites will agree with Golenbock’s assessment of Walter O’ Malley as one of baseball’s greatest villains.

Raymond Todd provides a good narration and doesn’t get too carried away (or stereotypical) with his portrayal of Irish-Italian-Jewish Brooklyn or the numerous Dodger players.

Rather Outspoken - Dan RatherRather Outspoken: My Life in the News (2012) by Dan Rather and Digby Diehl, Read by Dan Rather – Grand Central Publishing

I tend to be really interested in the art of journalism as well as the famous men and women who broke some of the biggest news stories in history. I’m a firm believer Edward R. Morrow and his Morrow Boys of WWII were some of the finest reporters to ever file copy and Dan Rather comes from that same Morrow mold. While some will argue Rather’s politics there’s no doubt he was one of the preeminent voices in television news.

Rather tells an interesting tale of his career at CBS News and while there are moments where his false modesty is a little tough to swallow – obviously Rather possesses a mighty healthy ego – and occasionally more detail than required is devoted to essentially minor characters in Rather’s life, this is still an intriguing look at a newsman’s rise from the wrong side of the tracks in Texas to the anchor desk of a nightly national broadcast watched by millions.

Plenty of behind the scenes tales of the big news events during Rather’s career make for a worthwhile listen.

The Coldest Winter - David HalberstamThe Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War (2008) by David Halberstam, Read by Edward Hermann – Hyperion Books

David Halberstam died in a car accident following the completion of The Coldest Winter and this extremely solid history of the period of America’s Forgotten War, mainly before and during General Douglas MacArthur’s command, is quite possibly the author’s opus. While you might believe the book tackles the entire conflict the real meat and potatoes revolves around MacArthur and his general staff’s lackluster performance which hamstrung the American and South Korean forces during 1950-51.

While Halberstam surely shows no love for MacArthur and his collection of “yes men” plenty of ink is devoted to the stories of the grunts who did the real fighting and dying. Halberstam understood most Americans ignore the events and outcome of the Korean Conflict; often, that part of history seems better left untold. The Coldest Winter tells this story and it’s back stories and even it’s substantial post-script. We mustn’t forget that South Korea’s success today owes a debt to the American and U.N. forces who fought there over half a century ago. Even though the listener already knows how the Korean War will turn out, Halberstam’s reportage provides for a driving narrative any fan of history will want to gobble up.

Edward Hermann provides a nice even reading which moves along at a steady clip without becoming overly dramatic.

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Jeff McAleer

Founder, editor-in-chief, and host of The Daily Dope and other TGG media. Jeff tackles any and all topics but his main gaming focus is war and strategy, RPGs, and miniatures. He's also a fan of independent and small press comics. Plus, Jeff is certainly never at a loss for an opinion...

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