Sunday, May 22, 2016

Ty Cobb-A Terrible Beauty by; Charles Leerhsen

I found this book courtesy of Hillsdale College. They published a talk given by Mr. Leershsen and published it in their March 2016 Imprimis Publication. I was intrigued by the thought that this author felt that Mr. Cobb’s reputation had been tarnished by other authors and he wanted to clear the record. I immediately purchased a copy from Amazon and have just finished it. Since most of Mr. Cobb’s great achievements were before my time I have taken the position that this latest effort was done with a noble purpose and therefore I accept his writing as factual. I read this, not as a fan of baseball, but because of the author’s attempt to right the record of Ty Cobb. There can be no question that to this day his records stand as recognition of his great ability, strength and persistence. Right up until his last days as a ball player he gave it all he had. It was the stigma that he was a dirty player and would deliberately spike players as he slid into bases that tarnished his image. For me the author cleared the air. Mr. Cobb’s family should be relieved that his honor has been restored. He played in the Majors from 1905 to 1928 (the year I was born). He played in 3034 games with the following statistics; 11,434 at bats, 2246 runs, 4189 hits, 1938 RBI’s 897 bases stolen and a life time batting average of .366. The book chronicles his life as a child, through his years as a ball player and his later years. He was fearless and always strove to win. Fans either loved him or hated him, but for sure he was not ignored. Whether baseball is a sport you care about or not, this is a well written biography of a legend whose achievements will never be equaled. Jack B. Walters May 22, 2016

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The World Crisis by Winston S. Churchill (1911-1918)

This book contains 840 small print pages. It, of course, is well written as only Churchill could do. Trying to absorb the contents and avoiding eye strain, it took over one month to finish reading. It was recommended reading by Marc Johnson, one of my favorite lecturers in my OLLI classes. It covers the years leading up to the First World War and the war years until it ended at the 11th hour of the11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The difference between this conflict and the Second World War is that in the 1940’s significant advances had been achieved in the weaponry which was not available. Airplanes were mostly of the observation type and tanks were not introduced until the war was in its final stages. This was a brute force, savage waste of manpower, with one side or the other sending thousands across desolate landscape and being killed my machine guns, artillery and poison gas. All told over 20,000,000 casualties, either on the ground or in the sea. An incredible wastage of an entire generation of all countries involved. In the years leading to the war Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty. His responsibility was to assure the British fleet was superior to that of Germany. In that he was eminently successful. The last years he became the Minister of Munitions with responsibility for supplying all necessary to support the military. It is not my intent to record the events of these years, only a serious reading can accomplish that. This is not the first time I have read about this war but it was the most thorough. As one battle blends into another the sickening waste of lives is all pervasive. The Germans, until the end, had a favorable advantage in casualties of two to one. One short sentence by a German soldier says it all. He kept his machine gun sweeping the field cutting down scores of men. Wasting the lives so frivolously is a violation of the word civilization. Jack B. Walters May 14, 2016