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

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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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