THE ROCK, THE CURSE, AND THE HUB: A Random History of Boston Sports

Randy Roberts, Editor, Randy Roberts, Other . Harvard Univ. $24.95 (448p) ISBN 978-0-674-01504-3

Though many will assume that the curse mentioned in this anthology's title is the World Series jinx that the Red Sox finally beat last fall, it actually refers to an article about Rocky Marciano, the one-time heavyweight champion from Boston who fell short of becoming a full-fledged hometown hero. The history in these 14 chapters is genuinely "random," but each author explores his subject with intensity, and the collection as a whole has a commendable depth. Most of the contributors—who are mainly book-writing professors and historians—make efforts to go beyond a simple recapping of events; a chapter on Babe Ruth's glory days with the Red Sox, for example, places his career in the context of WWI and local postwar labor strikes; chapters on the Boston Marathon and the '68 Harvard crew team play up social activism angles (involving feminism and black athletes). Roberts, a Purdue University historian, contributes an essay on the rivalry and racial relations between hoops stars Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, a chapter that demonstrates the book's commitment to treating even the obvious subjects as social history, not just sports stories. (Apr.)

Forecast : A heavy promotional campaign in Boston—including advertising on NPR and on the Green Line out to Fenway Park—will generate interest just in time for baseball season, when many eyes will be focused on Boston thanks to the Red Sox's 2004 victory.

Reviewed on: 01/17/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
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