NewsHour anchor Lehrer mixes baseball, WWII and romance in his 19th novel to mostly pleasant results. Even though Johnny Wrigley, from smalltown Lafayette, M"/>

Oh, Johnny

James Lehrer, Author, Jim Lehrer, Author . Random $25 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6762-6

PBS NewsHour anchor Lehrer mixes baseball, WWII and romance in his 19th novel to mostly pleasant results. Even though Johnny Wrigley, from smalltown Lafayette, Md., is being scouted by the Detroit Tigers, he enlists in the Marines in April 1944 to “kill Japs for America.” En route to deployment, Johnny meets Betsy, a striking but naïvely religious doughnut girl, falls instantly in love and seduces her. He vows he'll return for her, a quixotic obsession that sustains him through grittily rendered combat scenes in the Pacific. At the war's end, Johnny returns with marriage on his mind. But Betsy can't be found, and Johnny ends up in Baltimore with a menial bus company job and his big league dreams rekindled. But those, like his romantic fantasy, remain out of reach. Though Johnny's obsessive love for Betsy is a bit hard to swallow, his troubled postwar reintegration is nicely handled and gives readers insight into a Greatest Generation leatherneck. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 09/29/2008
Release date: 03/01/2009
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