War Fever: Boston, Baseball, and America in the Shadow of the Great War

WAR FEVER                                              RANDY W. ROBERTS

In the fall of 1918, a fever gripped Boston. The streets emptied as paranoia about the deadly Spanish flu spread. Newspapermen and vigilante investigators aggressively sought to discredit anyone who looked or sounded German. And as the war raged on, the enemy seemed to be lurking everywhere: prowling in submarines off the coast of Cape Cod, arriving on passenger ships in the harbor, or disguised as the radical lecturing workers about the injustice of a sixty-hour workweek.
War Fever explores this delirious moment in American history through the stories of three men: Karl Muck, the German conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, accused of being an enemy spy; Charles Whittlesey, a Harvard law graduate who became an unlikely hero in Europe; and the most famous baseball player of all time, Babe Ruth, poised to revolutionize the game he loved. Together, they offer a gripping narrative of America at war and American culture in upheaval.

PAT'S REVIEW


A book that takes you back in time with America entering World War One. The author is focusing on Boston taking a look at three people from that city. One everyone has heard about Babe Ruth. He goes into his background and then his arrival to the Red Sox. How he started out as a pitcher and the games he won in the regular season as well as in the World Series. He also gets into his wanting to become a full-time player, not just a pitcher, he also goes into the home runs he started to hit and how they began to change the game. He follows Ruth and the owner of the Red Sox all the way up to when he is sold to the Yankees, he takes you through the war years for baseball and the attendance problems that they were having this all was very interesting.
Next, you have a German conductor who led the Boston Symphony Orchestra, his name was Karl Muck. He was accused of being a German spy. Here in this story, you see how the press really tainted people’s opinions especially if you had a German-sounding name. he goes to show you the people that were born here not all of them were German descent but were still threatened, sometimes killed by citizens, loss of their homes and jobs. It does not shine a pleasant light on the newspaper people or the government, but we already knew that. Mr. Muck would be tried in the newspapers before even going to a so-called hearing and even by then he was already guilty. Had to serve his time in a camp with others in Arkansas and then was deported after the war. Sorry to say that before the war he was chosen by the board of the Boston Symphony to take over their almost nonexistent program and turned into a World-class one, yet all but one would turn on him, a shame.
Last you are told the story of Charles Whittlesey who as a major would lead his men into an area in the Argonne Forest after being told he would have support on both flanks. That would be no. this would become in the papers as the Lost Platoon. They were from the 77th Division which would also fight some hair-raising battles against the Japanese in World War Two. Most people have not heard about this story anymore, I don’t think it is taught in history classes. This was a time when Generals told subordinates what to do and if it was not done or accomplish they would be replaced, of course sometimes the officer would be sent back to America and his career would be over, of course, you were friends with General Pershing for there were some he did not do this to. Here Whittlesey tells his commander that they will lose a lot of men and he is told if he is a coward, I will pick someone else. He, of course, leads his men over the trenches and then into the heart of the German force and they actually hold them off for days, even at one time being shelled by their own troops. A very inspiring story still to this day for me and I have heard it since I was a kid for my grandfather fought in World War One, and I would listen to all of the stories when I was young. Very sad how his story ends though.
The author switches back and forth between the different stories which is good and as you get towards the end; he brings in the Spanish flu and all of the deaths that were caused by that. All very enlightening and a really good book. I received this book from Netgalley.com I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com

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