It's our game . . . America's game: it has the snap, go, fling of the American atmosphere--belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly as our Constitution's laws, [and] is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.
--WALT WHITMAN SPEAKING ABOUT BASEBALL
Is the face of American baseball throughout the world that of goodwill ambassador or ugly American? Has baseball crafted its own image or instead been at the mercy of broader forces shaping our society and the globe? The Empire Strikes Out gives us the sweeping story of how baseball and America are intertwined in the export of "the American way."
From the Civil War to George W. Bush and the Iraq War, we see baseball's role in developing the American empire, first at home and then beyond our shores. And from Albert Spalding and baseball's first World Tour to Bud Selig and the World Baseball Classic, we witness the globalization of America's national pastime and baseball's role in spreading the American dream. Besides describing baseball's frequent and often surprising connections to America's presence around the world, Elias assesses the effects of this relationship both on our foreign policies and on the sport itself and asks whether baseball can play a positive role or rather only reinforce America's dominance around the globe. Like Franklin Foer in How Soccer Explains the World, Elias is driven by compelling stories, unusual events, and unique individuals. His seamless integration of original research and compelling analysis makes this a baseball book that's about more than just sports.
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Mixing sharp political analysis and compelling lore, an eye-opening look at baseball's relationship to American empire, from the revolutionary era to the present
The Empire Strikes Out is a rare and wonderful combination of splendid scholarship and lively writing. Robert Elias' affection for baseball illuminates its pages, even when he is unearthing episodes of organized baseball's racism, jingoism, unbridled militarism and insensitivity to other cultures. Simultaneously, and gracefully, the book describes the development of baseball and its impact overseas as a sort of quasi instrument of American foreign policy.
The recent internationalization of major-league rosters makes the book particularly timely. A truly fine work. Highly recommended.
- Roger Kahn, author of The Boys of Summer, The Era, Memories of Summer, October Men, Joe and Marilyn, etc.
Lively and provocative, this is the "big picture" look at the entangled, and sometimes nefarious, relationship between our national pastime and American diplomacy, militarism, and globalization. Well crafted, it is, at once, nuanced, imaginative, and provocative. Robert Elias' provides a riveting account of how our national pastime has been part and parcel of American diplomacy, militarism, and globalization.This is the definitive account of how baseball has been used to sell and export the American dream.
- George Gmelch, author of Baseball Without Borders, Inside Pitch, In the Ballpark, etc.
Robert Elias teaches law and politics at the University of San Francisco. He's the author and editor of eight books, most recently Baseball and the American Dream, and a baseball novel, The Deadly Tools of Ignorance. He lives in Mill Valley, California.
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