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The Eastern Stars: How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Macoris (Englisch) MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Ungekürzte Ausgabe

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  • MP3 CD
  • Verlag: Tantor Media Inc; Auflage: MP3 - CD. (15. April 2010)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 1400164311
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400164318
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13,5 x 1,5 x 18,8 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)

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Mark Kurlansky is the New York Times-bestselling author of many books, including The Food of a Younger Land; Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World; Salt: A World History; 1968: The Year That Rocked the World; and The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe .

Leseprobe. Abdruck erfolgt mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Rechteinhaber. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

Part One


La caña triturada, como una lluvia de oro,
en chorros continuados, baja, desciende y va
allí donde la espera la cuba, para hacerla
miel, dulce miel, panal.

El sol que la atraviesa con rayo matutino,
de través, como un puro y muy terso cristal,
sugestiona, persuade, que se ha liquefacto
la misma luz solar.

The ground-up cane, ring of gold,
continuously spurting, comes down, goes down and goes
where the bucket awaits it, to make of it
Honey, sweet honey, honeycomb.

The sun shining straight through it with morning rays,
crosswise, like a pure, terse glasswork,
suggesting, persuading, that what has liquefied
Is the very light of the sun.

—Gastón Fernando Deligne, “Del Trapiche”

Chapter One

Like the Trace of a Kiss

It is easier to describe San Pedro de Macorís, and the unique history and cultural blend that formed it, than it is to explain the country in which it was formed. There is a strange ambivalence to the Dominican Republic. Pedro Mir, the Dominican poet laureate from San Pedro de Macorís, described his country as:
Like the trace of a kiss on a spinster
Or the daylight on rooftops.

Of the nations called the large-island Caribbean, the ones that by size should dominate the region, the Dominican Republic is the one with the least impact and the least distinct culture. The others all have poetic names: Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad. The Dominican Republic has a name that seems a temporary offering until a better idea comes along. Even Puerto Rico, which has the odd history of having never been an independent nation, seems to have a stronger sense of itself. The Dominican Republic, one of the first independent nations in the Caribbean, seems to struggle with its identity.

It is a country that has usually been out of step with history, left behind in the Spanish empire, left behind in the independent Caribbean; even on its own island, it is the country that isn’t Haiti. Almost as poor as Haiti but not quite, neither as tragic nor as romantic, the Dominican Republic missed the first sugar boom in the eighteenth century and came late to the second one in the nineteenth century. As with baseball, its sugar industry ran behind those of Cuba and Puerto Rico, and the Dominicans had trouble positioning themselves.

Dominicans speak Spanish, but it is not a very Spanish place. It is neither as Latino nor as African as Cuba. Dominicans have developed distinctive and celebrated music forms, but they are not as influential nor as recognized as the many forms of Cuban music or Jamaican reggae or Trinidadian calypso. It does not have the strong tradition of visual arts and folk crafts for which Haiti is known, and in fact Dominican tourist shops are filled with Haitian paintings and crafts and bad knockoffs of them. They also sell tourists Cuban cigars because Dominican ones, some of which are very good, don’t have the same cachet.

The Dominican Republic is nothing like its neighbor across the island, Haiti, which is a far more African place. But except for the Spanish language and baseball, it doesn’t very much resemble Cuba or Puerto Rico, either. Despite a long and mostly painful relationship with the United States and the fact that money shipped home by Dominicans in the United States is a major prong of the struggling economy—the third poorest in the Americas—the Dominican Republic has not become very Americanized, either. Major League Baseball is acutely aware that the Dominican ballplayers sent to the U.S. are lost in a very strange and different land.

It is tempting to say that baseball defines it, but it got the game from Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and Americans. Dominicans have excelled in the game, and in the last few decades baseball has at last become something at which Dominicans dominate—at last, something they can be known for—and this is a source of pride. From 1956—when Ozzie Virgil, from the northern Dominican town of Monte Cristi, became an infielder for the New York Giants—through 2008, 471 Dominicans played in at least one major-league game. One in six of them have come from the relatively small town of San Pedro de Macorís.

But even this celebrated accomplishment may be slightly tarnished by the fact that Cubans dominate Caribbean play and always have. It is U.S. law, which forced Cuban ballplayers to defect if they wanted to play in the U.S., that gave Dominicans their opening in baseball. In February 1962, when the United States imposed an embargo on Cuba, only six Dominicans had ever played in the major leagues.

Despite all its murky ambiguity, the Dominican Republic really is a distinct country with its own society and culture and way of doing things unlike anyplace else. This has made Dominicans love their homeland and yearn for it when they are away. It is just not very easy to articulate what it is. In the past twenty years there has been a marked growth in tourism, but it has been a style of tourism that spirits away visitors to walled-off resorts, safely away from the Dominican reality. The impression these visitors are left with is so false that the country may be even less known than it was when almost no one came.

There are Dominican characteristics. Not surprisingly, given the violent history of the Dominican Republic, there is violence in everyday Dominican life. There is domestic violence, but also the recent decline in the economy has been accompanied by a rise in street crime, especially by young men. The mayor of San Pedro, Ramón Antonio Echavaría, said street crime was the biggest problem facing his town. But also national human rights groups complained that in 2008 alone almost 500 people, most of them under the age of thirty-five, were shot and killed on the street by police, who admit to only 343 of the killings.

Despite all this, Dominicans have a sweetness to their demeanor. They smile and embrace one another far more easily than most people. Americans, trying to instill American ideas of sportsmanship, tell ballplayers in Dominican youth programs to come out and shake their opponents’ hands after a game. They come out to the field and for a brief moment begin the unnatural hand-shaking ritual but quickly begin hugging each other. That is what Dominicans do.

Dominican men are infamous for sexism. Yet women are common— though far from dominant—in the professions, especially as doctors. The image of the strong Dominican woman is celebrated—notably the three Mirabal sisters, upper-class women who resisted the Trujillo dictatorship and were murdered on their way home from visiting their husbands in prison. In fact, the founding legend of Dominican resistance was a Taino woman named Anacaona. After her husband was killed by the Spanish, Anacaona became leader of all the Tainos and was captured by the Spanish while trying to negotiate peace. The Spanish governor, Nicolás de Ovando, had her hanged.

Mothers are revered, and it is not unusual for a man to decide to use his mother’s last name rather than the traditional father’s name. In Spanish names, there are two last names, the father’s and then the mother’s. Although the father’s name is in the middle rather than the end, by tradition it is the one that is used. But Dominicans often choose their mothers’ names. An example is... -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe .

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Von James Gallen am 19. April 2010
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Every modern baseball fan has heard of San Pedro de Macoris, that hotbed of Dominican baseball talent, but most know little about the town. In "The Eastern Stars", author Mark Kurlansky introduces the reader to its sugar past, its baseball present and the changes the game has made to the town.

This book is part history, part baseball and part Third World study. The history part traces the history of the Dominican Republic, its colonial past, its chronic tension with Haiti and its series of dictators. Getting to the more localized history of San Pedro, it follows its rise as a sugar center and, as that declined, the rising prominence of baseball. We learn about a culture drawn from around the Caribbean that drew on the traditions of the Dominican, Cuba, Haiti and British Island dotting the Sea. We read about the impact big world issue have on something as non-political as baseball. Did you, for example, ever stop to think that the U.S. Embargo of Cuba opened the door to the major leagues to Dominicans by closing it to Cuban stars?

In much of the book, Kurlansky treats us to stories of the many of the major leaguers, both great stars and those whose careers were measured in days. We read of the heroics and the antics of Juan Marichal, Joaquin Andujar, Sammy Sosa, George Bell and many others. Issue of nationality and race, white, black and Latino, are shown from the San Pedro perspective, which is much different than that of the U.S. The importance of the signing bonus and the big league salaries to the player, his family and community, is illustrated in example after example. The continued attraction of San Pedro to retired players says something about the ties of country and home.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 38 Rezensionen
7 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A wonderful book, but maybe not what you expect 3. Juni 2010
Von Esther Schindler - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
Most of the baseball books I've read (such as the one I reviewed most recently, The Baseball Codes) are about the *game* of baseball. Kurlansky's is different. Unlike your average book about the sport, in The Eastern Stars you'll rarely find the phrase, "The count was 3 and 2, with 2 outs." Instead, this book is about the cultural history of baseball in a place and economic system that is foreign to most of us. It's fascinating -- assuming that you are as attracted as I am to anthropology, or "how one item can impact an entire society."

Kurlansky is no stranger to this kind of writing, as his previous books (such as Salt: A World History) demonstrate. But I hadn't realized until I read The Eastern Stars that he has a long journalistic history in the Dominican Republic, and the depth of his knowledge really shows. This isn't someone who flew in for a few weeks worth of interviews; Kurlansky is well aware of the frequency with which the power goes out in the Dominican Republic, and people's dependence on motorbikes (I once saw five people on a two-person motorbike -- plus a guitar). In fact, if you're interested in the Dominican Republic without any reference to baseball, this would be an excellent overview. I certainly wish I'd read his chapter on the country's history before I spent a week in the country in the mid 90s. (I stayed with friends, cooking on a gas stove powered with rum. It was a very long way from any resort hotel.) There are points where I began to suspect that the author was trying to decide if his book should be about the history/impact of sugar (to accompany Salt) rather than baseball, because he paints such a vivid picture of the last century in the sugar industry.

But the crux of this book is baseball, and the tiny Dominican town called San Pedro de Macoris -- where 79 major leaguers originated between 1962 and 2008, one out of every six of the Dominicans who made it to the major league. You know their names: Sammy Sosa, George Bell, Julio Franco, Robinson Cano. What you may not realize is the distance those men traveled, from raging poverty to the very foreign United States (most spoke no English when they arrived, leading Kurlansky to share several entertaining anecdotes about how the boys managed to order food). Baseball was and is the path out of a dead-end existence, and young boys play baseball constantly -- even though many have no baseballs, only socks filled with whatever is available. Much of the town's ecosystem has been tuned to the purpose, such as the buscons who run baseball academies to train young and talented boys (and get a percentage of the signing bonus, when there is one).

Mostly, Kurlansky does his best to look for, "What makes this town so special?" -- and I really enjoyed his search for the answer. He applies an excellent journalistic sense to "America's pasttime" (even if there are more non-U.S. players every year) that explains why MLB looks for talent outside our country, how the Dominican government influenced baseball (including one season in which they paid Negro League players handsomely to compete, since Trujillo was bound for HIS team to win), and where the failing sugar industry fits into all this.

If you seek a fun, fluffy book full of baseball anecdotes, this may not be the book you're looking for. However, if you want a picture of baseball's social impact and a keyhole view into the lives of several of your favorite players... well, this is a truly excellent book.
6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Needs a Cohesive Narrative and More Detailed, Compelling Character Profiles 9. Mai 2010
Von M. JEFFREY MCMAHON - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
New York Times best-selling author Mark Kurlansky approaches The Eastern Stars, not as a baseball fan but as a dispassionate journalist, and his approach, while professional and competent, is detrimental to the book because the dry, academic tone does not give life to the Dominican players described; the character profiles are never developed into a cohesive narrative and remain scant and superficial; and finally the book's purpose evidenced by its subtitle: "How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Macoris" is too simplistic. Yes, players from the Dominican escaped their poverty to make millions playing Major League Baseball. Not a compelling premise. No compelling baseball player profiles or at least little new for the baseball fan. Learning about Rico Carty's spending sprees (buying dozens of pairs of shoes in one outing) makes for interesting anecdotage but doesn't make an entire book. I'm sad to say The Eastern Stars was a boring read and as a baseball fan I was very disappointed.
7 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Does anyone edit or fact check anymore? 8. Juli 2010
Von Anton Gruenewald - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Mr. Kurlansky owes Manny Alexander an apology...a BIG apology. I was really looking forward to this book. Unfortunately, Mr. Kurlansky writes about baseball as if it's a vague and foreign concept for him. The book is also chock full of factual errors. Most are harmless and show a total lack of understanding of baseball and well...just plain laziness by the author, editor and publisher. One is just awful. He states that while a member of the Yankees in 2000, Manny Alexander took equipment from Derek Jeter and sold it to memorabilia dealers. WRONG! Alexander never played for the Yankees. The incident happened in 2002 and the player caught dealing Jeter's equipment was not Manny Alexander. What had become an exercise of finding the error or clueless statement (Yes, Alfredo Griffin did hit .500 one season for four at-bats), became one of jaw-dropping shock at how a well-respected non-fiction writer could have been so dangerously lazy.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Excellent Read That's Not Your Typical Baseball Book 8. August 2010
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
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As a huge fan of baseball and a bigger fan of baseball books, I was a little surprised by Kurlansky's latest book. Most other baseball books are written by authors who are clearly passionate fans of the game. With this comes a focus on details of the sport that includes literary representation of games--or particular moments from games--and heavy reliance on statistics. Kurlansky's focus here is not the details of games but how professional baseball has impacted the culture and way of life of the Dominican Republic in general with s focus on San Pedro de Macoris, a small town that has produced 79 major league ball players between 1962 and 2008. Further, Kurlansky demonstrates himself as a journalist who knows a lot about the country. His focus is on the cultural history of the island and the impact of baseball on the culture and economics of the island. He does share anecdotes of famous players but most of these focus on their life outside of the diamond. We see how these famous players and their wealth have inspired a nation and a city to stress baseball to their male children as a way to overcome widespread poverty. It is fascinating to consider that even a modest (by today's standard) signing bonus is the equivalent of years of salary. Kurlansky shares that even players who have had very moderate success in baseball are able to return to the Dominican as heroes and set their families up in comparative luxury and security.

In addition to the impact of the game on the city and country, Kurlansky focuses on why this area has become such a fertile birthplace for baseball talent. He points out how politics and economics (he spends a lot of time on the failing sugar industry and its contribution to baseball) have all contributed to focusing on baseball as the road to wealth and comfort for thousands.

It seems that many of the negative reviews of this book come from baseball fans like me who hoped for a more traditional baseball book. Another thing that is difficult for me as a fan of the game is to learn about how the MLB develops these young kids in training academies in the hopes of finding the next Sammy Sosa or Robinson Cano but drops them as soon as they are no longer a prospect. On the other hand, I guess this is the nature of sports in our modern world. In summary, if you are looking for a book that is devoted to stories of the game, this may not be the book for you. If you want a book that takes a hard look at how baseball impacts a community and its economy and culture and vise versa, then this is a book that you will enjoy.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
The Secret To Hitting A Curveball 2. Mai 2010
Von Bruce Loveitt - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
I'm a big Mark Kurlansky fan, (I loved "Cod", "The Big Oyster", and "Gloucester"), so I'm sorry to say I was a little disappointed with this latest effort. Although the book is only a little over 200 pages, it still felt too long for the subject matter. I think this might have been better as a longish magazine article. The structure isn't so great, either. The book kind of meanders along with little bits of island history, current politics, baseball anecdotes, and short biographical snippets of some of the famous and not-so-famous players. Just when you feel you are getting comfortable with one particular aspect of the story, the book veers off in another direction. It ruins the flow and is very disconcerting.It is also somewhat odd that throughout the book Mr. Kurlansky encloses various traditional recipes popular in the Dominican Republic! This seems especially jarring when one of the recipes follows a section of serious reporting dealing with the poverty that exists throughout the island. What makes the book an okay read, rather than something I couldn't recommend, is that Mr. Kurlansky writes well, has a good eye for detail, and a nice sense of humor. Some of the anecdotes are quite amusing. For example, the story that relates to the title of my review. It seems that former major league baseball great Rico Carty credited his ability to hit the curveball to his experiences as a youth playing in the Dominican Republic. Because everybody was so poor, they couldn't afford real baseballs. So they would roll-up some socks and make balls out of them, and then dip them in water to give them the heft of a real ball. As Carty pointed out, when someone throws a bunch of rolled-up socks at you the "ball" does some pretty weird things on the way to home plate! There are numerous other anecdotes which are pretty funny as well, but overall, due to the problems mentioned above, I found this to be just a so-so read.
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