Saturday, March 31, 2012

SUMMER in Sports Illustrated

SUMMER OF '68 joins LEFTY, DRIVING MR. YOGI and Paul Dickson's great bio on VEECK, among others, in this week's Sports Illustrated on page 20. It's a funky chart in which SUMMER ranks No. 1 in the Fisticuffs/Riots category.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Thumbs-Up from Pop Matters

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Guest on Richard Gazala's blog

Richard asked some intriguing questions about writing and the SUMMER OF '68. Here are my replies.

Gazala:    In my omnipotence, I've sentenced you to be stranded alone on a desert island for offenses best left unnamed. In my beneficence, I've decided to allow you a limited amount of reading material to make your stay a little less bleak than it would otherwise be. I'll spot you your religious text of preference, and the collected works of William Shakespeare. In addition to those, name the one fiction book, and the one nonfiction book, you'd choose to take with you, and why you choose them.

Wendel:    On the fiction side, I'd choose In the Skin of A Lion, by Michael Ondaatje. That's one of the titles I pull down and reread every year or so, along with The Great Gatsby and several Hemingway short stories. (See, I had to find a way to get past that single-choice criteria.) Ondaatje is better known for The English Patient, but I really enjoy Lion. The novel is set in Toronto, back at the turn of the last century. In many ways, Toronto was the city of my youth -- a glittering skyline that I saw from the opposite side of the Lake Ontario, where my family lived during the summers. This novel swirls and moves, almost like a fever dream, around several memorable characters. Nonfiction? I'd have to go with Joseph Campbell's The Hero With A Thousand Faces, which details and emphasizes the importance of myth -- those old stories that may be a part of our very DNA. Anybody who writes has to at least acknowledge these tales of yesteryear, their structure, and how they can still reach out to us today.

Gazala:    Your latest book is an excellent and gripping true story of baseball and cultural history, called Summer of '68. I've read it. I enjoyed it immensely, and recommend it highly. Shockingly enough, however, from time to time my bare recommendation doesn't always motivate a book's potential reader to become a book's actual reader. Tell us something about Summer of '68, and why its potential reader should make the leap and become its actual reader.
Wendel:    The year 1968 rocked our world and we're still dealing with the aftershocks. Culture wars? Political discord? A divisive presidential campaign? Things were far worse when it came to all those elements in 1968. Of course, the year has been written about in terms of cultural, political, even musical events. What I did in Summer of '68 was move sports to the forefront and write about a great collection of teams and personalities. Two of the most racially integrated organizations in the country -- the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers -- met in an epic World Series in baseball. Football moved to the top of the U.S. sports mountain, thanks to Joe Namath and the rise of the old American Football League. And we had the Mexico City Summer Games, which made live TV viewing of the Olympics a must for American households. I follow several top athletes -- Bob Gibson, Mickey Lolich, Denny McLain, Luis Tiant -- through this tumultuous time. What they learned and how they struggled to move ahead, I believe, is as important today as it was then.  

Gazala:    What are books for?
Wendel:    To help bring order, or at least a glimpse of it, to a world that often borders upon the insane and bizarre.
Gazala:    W. Somerset Maugham said, "There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." Do you agree, or disagree, and why?
Wendel:    Well, you start with the rules. Those are your flickering lights as you move into the darkness when you begin any new book. And then, too soon, you realize that you have to invent some more rules and techniques to try and carry the day.

Gazala:    Someone let the dogs out. Ask yourself a question, and answer it.
Wendel:    Q: What's the future of books? A: I sometimes tell my students at Johns Hopkins that I don't have any idea what format we'll be writing for in a decade or two or three (e-books, iPads, some blend of the internet and movies?), but I believe people will still be hungry for story. For a good story can not only entertain us, it can give us a bit of a clue about who we are and what's really important in the world.

Wendel's Summer of '68 just came out yesterday. You can find it all over, and if you want to order it from Amazon, you do that by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Publication day

Today, March 13, is the official publication date for SUMMER OF '68: THE SEASON WHEN BASEBALL, AND AMERICA, CHANGED FOREVER. Strange how most pub dates are a Tuesday.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Baseball Book Club selection

Steve Kettmann has made SUMMER OF '68 the next selection for his esteemed Baseball Book Club Facebook page. I'm thrilled to be following in the footsteps of such great authors as Chad Harbach, Jane Leavy, Glenn Stout. I'll be taking questions and trying to add insight as we move forward next month on the page. Thanks, Steve.

Friday, January 27, 2012

'Summer' is one of PW's Top 10

Spring 2012 Announcements: Sports: Olympians, Yogi & the Knuckler
By Michael Coffey
Jan 20, 2012
This June, the Summer Olympics from London will be hard to escape, and there are no fewer than five books in the pages that follow that deal with the history of Olympic competition in one way or the other.
All of the Olympics books would seem to have value, but the one done in association with Olympic Museum in Switzerland wins the gold, at least in this preliminary event: The Treasures of the Olympic Games, an “interactive history” of the games by Neil Wilson, comes from Carlton Books, and features many photos plus facsimiles of Olympic mementoes, some innocent, like rail passes, some chilling, like a police report detailing the fatal hostage-taking in Munich in 1972.
Whether this Olympiad is battered by politics will be a big security question no doubt in the streets of London , but sports and politics have often been inextricably linked. Da Capo’s Summer of ’68: The Season That Changed Baseball—and America —Forever by Tim Wendel revisits a horrendous year in America , with the assassinations of MLK and RFK, and riots and arson in many cities. Detroit was one of the hottest cities, and Wendel recalls the exploits of the Tigers, with several homegrown black stars, who appealed for calm in their hometown and also won the World Series.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Library Journal? Great review

Wendel (fiction & nonfiction writing, Johns Hopkins Univ.; High Heat: The Secret History of the Fastball and the Improbable Search for the Fastest Pitcher of All Time) follows the tradition of homing in on a key year in both baseball and U.S. history. America was being torn apart in 1968, and baseball was under stress, too. The pennant-winning St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers had players at loggerheads with one another. Star players like Cardinal ace Bob Gibson were not immune to racial tension and prejudice. And yet, the ultimate story is one of triumph as these teams provided some respite and hope to a beleaguered country suffering from the effects of the Vietnam War and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. Wendel has interviewed many of the key participants to bring this crucial year to life. Transcending baseball history alone, this is recommended for baseball fans and students of the era.—P.K., Library Journal

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Summer of '68 cover

Here's the cover for Summer of '68. This is the pivotal play in that season's World Series recast for the time period.With cover blurbs from Ken Burns, Tom Stanton, John Thorn, David Maraniss and Hampton Sides, Summer of '68 will be out March 13.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

From David Maraniss

The Summer of 68 captivated me from the get-go: I was 18 that summer, reeling from the chaos of an unforgettable year, awestruck by the ferocious beauty of Bob Gibson, rooting for Willie Horton and the Tigers from the city of my birth. Cheers to Tim Wendel for bringing it all back so vividly.”
--David Maraniss

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Endorsements keep coming

I'm a big admirer of Hampton Sides' writing. Thankfully, he took the time to blurb Summer of 68 (see below). Sides joins Tom Stanton, John Thorn and Ken Burns. The cover goes to the printer next week, and we still may pick up another blurb or two before we close. But I'm thrilled and humbled these great writers took the time.

"A year of great convulsion and heartbreak, 1968 was the closest we've come to a national nervous breakdown since the Civil War. But as Tim Wendel so deftly captures in this fine book, it was also a year when baseball soothed and thrilled us—and urgently reminded us why it's called the "national pastime."   
—Hampton Sides, author of Hellhound on His Trail 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Blurb from MLB's official historian

“It seems like only yesterday when both our nation and its pastime seemed in mortal peril. Tim Wendel ’s Summer of ’68 brilliantly evokes the glories and the grim realities of that time, when America and baseball came to a crossroads, and emerged for the better on the other side.”–John Thorn, Official Historian of Major League Baseball and author of Baseball in the Garden of Eden