Rickey & Robinson: The True, Untold Story of the Integration of Baseball
By Roger Kahn. (Rodale, 292 pages, $25.99.)
It's been more than 40 years since Roger Kahn's classic "The Boys of Summer," his book about the 1950s Brooklyn Dodgers, changed sports journalism. He revisited that time in "The Era," and he goes back to the well again in "Rickey & Robinson," the story of how executive Branch Rickey brought Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers, breaking baseball's color barrier. It's a return trip worth taking.
Technically, Kahn wasn't there at the time — he was 19 when Robinson debuted with the Dodgers in 1947, and his years as the New York Herald Tribune's Dodgers beat writer came in 1952 and 1953. But much of the book is drawn from Kahn's own interviews with Rickey and Robinson in the 1950s. According to Kahn, Rickey told him of a secret 1946 meeting where all the other 15 major-league clubs opposed integrating baseball, on condition that it stay off the record until after Rickey's death.
Other than that, it's arguable how much meaningful new ground is broken in "Rickey & Robinson." It's Kahn's perspective that makes it worth the ride.
Kahn takes a few detours in his storytelling, but these turn out to be some of the most enjoyable parts of the book. (A story about a sloshed columnist Dick Young introducing Kahn at a 1970s banquet is an all-timer.) But unfortunately, he can't resist taking a few shots at the younger generation, including Jonathan Eig, author of the Robinson book "Opening Day."
Casey Common,Business copy editor
By Luke Barr. (Clarkson Potter, 309 pages, $15.)
It was a "combustible moment" when the luminaries of the food world found themselves together in the south of France in the fall of 1970. The ascendant Julia Child, the ailing James Beard, the forceful M.F.K. Fisher, the purist Simone Beck, the snob Richard Olney. All shared a passion for French cuisine, all were changing American cuisine, all were reckoning with their place in the insular food world. But their agreement ended there.
Their prickly encounter is dramatically reconstructed by Luke Barr, Fisher's great-nephew. He combed through family files and letters left by the others to describe a moment when the "seminal figures of American cooking" wrestled over what American cuisine owes France — and what our menus today owe to them.
Topics team leader