Monday, August 16, 2021

a review of War Fever-- on Ruth, Muck, and Whittlesey

Roberts and Smith have written a solid book if you're into baseball, WW1, and/or the Spanish Flu pandemic a century ago. The authors focus on Babe Ruth, Karl Muck, and Charles Whittlesey-- the most famous war athlete, war villain, and war hero. (I had never heard of Muck or Whittlesey.)

Most interesting numbers: the per-capita pandemic numbers given were that 2x as many people got the SF and 3x as many died from it.

Most interesting angle: Ruth's German heritage and the threat of it soiling his popularity. (1918 was also the primary year when Ruth was a hitter and a pitcher in the same year.)

Most impressive irony: the media "raked" Muck mercilessly, but the term "muckraking" had been coined by Teddy Roosevelt decades earlier.

Most interesting factoid: the "Plattsburg Camps" where a private effort trained men for war before the govt got excited/organized enough to do so.

Weirdest writing decision: spelling Plattsburgh without the H. (It bothered me since we used to live near there.)


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