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  • Basic Books
  • Basic Books

War Fever: Boston, Baseball, and America in the Shadow of the Great War

Randy Roberts, Jo Smith

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History

A "marvelous" (Sports Illustrated) portrait of the three men whose lives were forever changed by WWI-era Boston and the Spanish flu: baseball star Babe Ruth, symphony conductor Karl Muck, and Harvard law student Charles Whittlesey

In War Fever, celebrated sports historians Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith explore the monumental changes taking place in Boston during the Great War through the stories of three men: Karl Muck, the German conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra; Charles Whittlesey, a Harvard Law Student who was called to service and became an unlikely leader; and perhaps the most famous baseball player of all time, Babe Ruth. Each was cast into the turmoil of the war, and each emerged as a public figure of one sort or another: one a villain, one a hero, one an athlete.

Throughout the war, Bostonians lived on high alert; fearing an attack on the city's harbor, mines were anchored in the bay and a wire net stretched across the channels to prevent German submarines from encroaching. In an ethnically diverse city, fraught with tension between interventionists and pacifists, the war unleashed intolerance, hostility, and xenophobia. Together, the stories of these three men reveal how a city and a nation confronted the havoc of a new world order, the struggle to endure the war, and all its unforeseen consequences. At once a gripping narrative of American culture in upheaval and a sweeping account of the conflict, War Fever is narrative history at its best.

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