"In his highly entertaining and always enlightening 'subjective retelling of the sport's history,' Ostergaard takes a nonlinear approach to discussing the cultural importance of baseball, successfully combining historical and personal anecdotes, statistical facts, and famous myths and legends. His goal is to show 'the ways in which baseball has been represented in the U.S., and how these representations can be understood in the context of American history.' He moves easily from the relationship between baseball and political thinking shared during the early 1960s by fierce enemies Fidel Castro and Allen Dulles, to the ways baseball managers and owners attempted to enforce rules about hair length and mustaches at the same time that those rules were being rejected in American culture in general. One of the most provocative sections details the eerie symmetry between Clark Griffith, whose Washington Senators had been 'squashed' by the New York Yankees for 17 straight seasons, and Hemingway's character Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea, whose words and actions Ostergaard convincingly argues are subtle commentaries about the baseball postseason and the World Series. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"The Devil's Snake Curve will receive a particularly warm welcome from those who love the game but resist easy analogies comparing its slow, idiosyncratic progress to the slow idiosyncratic progress of the American experiment. Its young author, Josh Ostergaard, emerges from an ironic generation that tends to regard hero worship as faintly ridiculous, meaning that individual legends from any given era are less interesting to him than whatever social, cultural, or political forces might have combined to prop those legends up." and#151;New York Times
"Expansive and inventive... a challenging reconsideration of a game that used to be called the national pastime." and#151;Star Tribune
and#147;[Hi]ghly entertaining and always enlightening . . . [Ostergaard] moves easily from the relationship between baseball and political thinking shared during the early 1960s by fierce enemies Fidel Castro and Allen Dulles, to the ways baseball managers and owners attempted to enforce rules about hair length and mustaches at the same time that those rules were being rejected in American culture in general.and#8221; and#151;Publishers Weekly
and#147;Smart, funny and wholly unique. Josh Ostergaard creates a collage of baseball's complications, tracing its shimmering lore and harsh realities. He gives us a game that is never static, never simple, but is worth knowing. In his hands, the familiar feels new again.and#8221; and#151;Lucas W. Mann, author of Class A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere
and#147;I thought I wasnand#8217;t interested in baseball until I read this book. Itand#8217;s like a box of eclectic baseball cards about our country and our culture and#150; curious, compelling, and disturbing in turn.and#8221; and#151;Eula Biss, author of Notes from No Manand#8217;s Land
"In a sports publishing season with few books about the scandal side of, say, NFL violence, NCAA hypocrisy, or drug use, there is a little book with a social conscience. Josh Ostergaard (who now works for Graywolf Press) has written The Deviland#8217;s Snake Curve: A Fanand#8217;s Notes from Left Field, a book of essays and 'miscellany.'" and#151;Publishers Weekly, Included in "PW's Top 10: Sports"
"Readers who, like the author, see baseball as a metaphor for, well, nearly everything, and who deem the Yankees as not only representative of the misdistribution of wealth in America but also connected to such events as the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Vietnam War will love this book. Those who merely enjoy baseball as baseball, even those who root for his despised Yankees, may still find plenty to like in Ostergaard's oddball take on the sport." and#151;Booklist
"One of the most fascinating books ever written about baseball."and#151;The Cultural Weekly
and#147;This graceful, quietly humorous and thought-provoking collection of anecdotes probes deeply into the meaning behind each parcel of information to capture what baseball was in the days before what baseball is now.and#8221; and#151;MinnPost
"A former urban anthropologist, Ostergaard loves baseball and the stories that "lie on the game's outer edges," the "murmurs between innings" where baseball intersects with -- well, just about everything in American life." and#151;Pioneer Press
and#147;Funny, off the beaten path, and fun to read, The Deviland#8217;s Snake Curve is the perfect book for anyone who likes their baseball a little bit different, enjoys irreverent humor, or really hate the Yankees.and#8221; and#151;Boston Red Thoughts
"One of baseballand#8217;s charms for writers is as a broad canvas for the expression of personal piques, politics, and flights of imagination. Following the example of The Empire Strikes Out by Robert Elias, lefty Chicago urban anthropologist Josh Ostergaard proffers a revisionist historical commentary on baseball in The Deviland#8217;s Snake Curve. . ." and#151;The Daily Beast
"Ostergaard is an incisive, intelligent writer . . . At best, the book is a brilliant exercise in sequence and transition, with dozens of short sections carefully laid out in order to maximize inference and suggestion.and#8221; and#151;The Corresponder
and#147;The Deviland#8217;s Snake Curve is a unique baseball book, one that cleverly explores the history of the sport through cultural and political lenses.and#8221;and#151;Largehearted Boy
and#147;This book is like a day at the ballpark. Histories are the murmurs between innings. They are the pitches that make up a game. They careen off the wall and roll into dark corners. The game is played in fragments. Meanings accrue. Memories interrupt history.and#8221;and#151;The Joy of Sox
"Even in the lengthy tradition of baseball literature, The Devil's Snake Curve defies easy comparison. . . There are a few real discoveries for even a devoted baseball history dweeb in The Deviland#8217;s Snake Curve."and#151;The Classical
"This anecdotal history of baseball is a gem. Musingsand#151;both personal and historicaland#151;are intertwined with snippets of Americana, dashes of history, and cultural observations by an urban anthropologist. Flip through the book and randomly read about pissing in the Wrigley Field troughs, Allan Dulles' CIA coups, bubble gum and tobacco rituals, the politics of facial hair, and both religious and ideological attempts to co-opt sport. Or better yet, read it again it the way the author intended to see the connections between Baseball and Machines, Militarism, the Animal World, Nationalism and the Corporatocracy." and#151;Annie Bloom Books
and#147;The Deviland#8217;s Snake Curve. . . is unique, insightful, humorous and worth reading. It is a kind of radical and high subjective view of the national pastime, a kind of and#147;Fargoand#8221; of baseball books." and#151;Epoch Times
and#147;Ostergaard seamlessly meshes baseball with pop culture and politics, both in the U.S. and around the world.and#8221; and#151;Ron Kaplanand#8217;s Baseball Bookshelf
"This collection of news reports, anecdotes, statistics and personal reminiscences turns an eclectic history of baseball into a backdrop for American political history. "and#151;Shelf Awareness
and#147;Out of the many fragments of baseball history collected in The Deviland#8217;s Snake Curve, Josh Ostergaard has assembled a unique take on baseballand#8217;s complicated symbolism. Full of mustaches, advertisements, and more than a few reasons to hate the Yankees, itand#8217;s a story about how baseball became intertwined with our ideas about things like patriotism, civility, and masculinity. Ostergaardand#8217;s interpretation of baseballand#8217;s history is one I was increasingly drawn into, and while he doesnand#8217;t pretend to be objective, he leaves room for readers to make their own connections and draw their own conclusions. It is as thought provoking as it is entertaining.and#8221; and#151;Jacob Harksen, Elliot Bay Books
and#147;An insightful, humorous social commentary on our nation. Drawing connections between the sport and capitalism, faith, and colonialism (just to name a few), Ostergaard draws the reader into his passionate perspective, and leaves us reflecting on the state of our country.and#8221;and#151;City Pages
and#8221;Ostergaard aligns baseball and history so that wonderful coincidences arise."and#151;Fiction Advocate
and#147;[The Deviland#8217;s Snake Curve] scorches baseballand#8217;s corporate (i.e., greedy) side and its pen- chant for wrapping itself in the flag, which includes American-style imperial- ism, the kind that blithely, almost unconsciously, styles baseball as redemptive force, good for the worldand#8217;s untamed and unwashed.and#8221;and#151;NINE
A humorous, historical, and hirsute miscellany that's the baseball book Howard Zinn would have written, if he hated the Yankees.
Josh Ostergaard: Josh Ostergaard holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota and an MA in cultural anthropology. He has been an urban anthropologist at the Field Museum and now works at Graywolf Press.