Good morning bookies! Stand by for news.
Today is gloomy, wet and chilly, the first cold day of this season here in West Tennessee, the type of weather that clogs the old blogging juices and channel’s your friendly neighborhood bookseller’s already sluggish brain into new culverts and drains, diverting it from its normal obsession with books. So today we start with a story on another obsession, autographs.
*** Dorothy Phillips lost her suit against the Avon & Somerset Police. It seems that her signed photograph of Adolf Hitler was seized in 2006 during a police raid (an illegal one, by the way. She was later award 7500 pounds in compensation) and she claims that it faded while in police custody and lost half its value. Well, maybe, maybe not. Certainly fading could cause that much harm, but without before and after photos how could you know? Anyway, I bring this up because I, too, am an autograph collector and this story brings up the old rule that autograph collectors must be non-political in their hobby. Hitler may have been in the handful of most evil men of the 20th century, but there is no denying his influence on history. To me, however, a much more interesting story would have been how Ms. Phillips came to have the autograph in the first place. Hitler signed photos have never been cheap.
*** Since BBG is also a baseball fan from way back, he remembers Jose Canseco from his playing days. A big, strong home run hitter with a Barry Bonds complex. Yawn. So when Canseco wrote Juiced, accusing just about every baseball player within living memory of using steroids, it was unimpressive on several levels. First, coming from a washed-up under-achiever it seemed like sour grapes. Second, is sounded mostly untrue. Thirdly, who cared? (Yes, I know much of the world did care, just not me. However, writing about it gave me the chance to switch from third to first person in the same paragraph) Indeed, had the book not been so successful, it would not have made today’s blog. But it was, it made huge changes to baseball, thus today’s follow up.
So with Juiced a fading memory, the also fading Canseco needed to feed his ego some more and is now publicly regretting the effects of his book. Poor Jose seems to have been mis-understood by his fellow ball-players. Boo-hoo.
*** In the season for book awards comes a new Canadian prize for historical writing, cut down to three entries. It goes almost without saying that one will be on Economics, although I like that it’s Economics during the Dutch Golden Age (did you know there WAS a Dutch Golden Age?), and one must be about either WW2, Hitler or the Third Reich. In this case, the latter.
*** On the list of ‘books-I’ve-never-heard-of-but-now-want-to-read’ comes John Birmingham’s Without Warning. The setup is fairly simple: on the eve of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a freak energy wave wipes out the United States homeland, but leaves the army intact in the Middle East. If this were the typical (and boring) ‘it’s-America’s-fault’ (what does ‘it’ mean? Fill in the blank) fantasy I would not be mentioning it. But that does not appear to be the case. The scenario sounds like fun in a brutal, end of the world sort of way.