DEFENDING BALTIMORE AGAINST ENEMY ATTACK: A Boyhood Year During World War II

Charles Osgood, Author . Hyperion $19.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-4013-0023-4

Osgood's memoir of growing up in Baltimore's Liberty Heights neighborhood circa 1942 echoes with the same measured cadence and disarmingly simple structure that the anchor uses in his CBS radio and TV broadcasts. The Emmy Award–winning broadcaster pulls readers into a seductive world, as he relates his obsession with baseball, his love of radio programs (which had a "profound influence" on him) and his experiences with other slices of Americana. Yet the war news affected Osgood, too, if in a minor way: he built a stink bomb with a friend ("weapons of mass disgust to waft at the enemy"), pinned a tiny Japanese flag over Manila on the map mounted on his bedroom wall and wondered "just how much of Africa needed liberating." His reminiscences are a basic nostalgic archetype, where plucky kids, strong families and sunny optimism are the order of the day, compared with Osgood's version of today's world, where ill-educated and pessimistic masses throng America's streets. The author talks about how, as a child aged eight to 12, he simply wanted to make people happy, imagining that if he were a child today, he'd be sent to a psychiatrist for such behavior. The golden-hued streets of Osgood's Liberty Heights are a bona fide paradise, drenched with more nostalgia than even Barry Levinson could offer, without a shred of acknowledgment of memory's distortion of events over time. Photos not seen by PW . Agent, Bill Adler. (May)

Forecast: Father's Day promos, an author tour and inevitable plugs on the radio will boost sales to baby boomers and their parents.

Reviewed on: 03/22/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-59355-482-8
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