Friday, April 22, 2011

New Books from Gotham Friends

This spring is not only bringing an overabundance of showers, but a hail of new books from friends of our firm. Here are a couple recent releases we thought you might find of interest.

The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football, by John Miller

If you think football has a problem with concussions and violence today, Miller, a correspondent for National Review, says consider the game as it was played a little more than a century ago: In 1905, eighteen people died playing the sport. The problem was so severe, a movement to ban football sprang up, led by the president of Harvard University, The Nation magazine, muckraking journalists, and others. A solution came through the remarkable intervention of Theodore Roosevelt, a vigorous supporter of football who summoned the top college coaches to the White House and urged them to reform the rules. This meeting led directly to the formation of the NCAA and the invention of the forward pass -- an innovation that transformed the sport as it shifted away from its rugby-like origins and created the distinctively American game we love today.

The Big Scrum (Harper Collins) recounts this remarkable story in full for the first time, and the early reviews are, well, pretty smashing. The Associated Press: "Miller’s easygoing narrative and keen eye for colorful detail should cheer sports fans and history buffs alike." Booklist: "Enjoyable history of a seldom explored turning point in American sports history." Pat Sajak (yes, it's really the guy from "Wheel of Fortune") in National Review: "Miller writes about college football enthusiastically and eloquently.

World in the Balance: The Perilous Months June-October 1940, by Brooke Stoddard

Stoddard, a former writer/editor at Time-Life Books and National Geographic Books and editor of Military Heritage Magazine, offers war buffs a meaty, in-depth account of the Battle of Britain. World in the Balance (Potomac Books) not only narrates the duel between the RAF and the Luftwaffe but also lesser known travails of this crucial summer and fall: the British navy's attack on the French fleet after France surrendered to the Germans; the race to perfect radar and Enigma-machine decoding; the German effort to put Edward VIII back on the throne of a subdued Britain; and intrigue for bringing Spain into the war on Germany's side. Many people believed Britain would succumb to the Nazi forces as swiftly has France had, Stoddard argues, but Britain held firm and carried the torch for democratic countries. The work covers a decisive moment in world history.

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