Synopses & Reviews
The intriguing, inspiring history of one small, impoverished area in the Dominican Republic that has produced a staggering number of Major League Baseball talent, from an award-winning, bestselling author.
In the town of San Pedro in the Dominican Republic, baseball is not just a way of life. It's the way of life. By the year 2008, seventy-nine boys and men from San Pedro have gone on to play in the Major Leagues-that means one in six Dominican Republicans who have played in the Majors have come from one tiny, impoverished region. Manny Alexander, Sammy Sosa, Tony Fernandez, and legions of other San Pedro players who came up in the sugar mill teams flocked to the United States, looking for opportunity, wealth, and a better life.
Because of the sugar industry, and the influxes of migrant workers from across the Caribbean to work in the cane fields and factories, San Pedro is one of the most ethnically diverse areas of the Dominican Republic. A multitude of languages are spoken there, and a variety of skin colors populate the community; but the one constant is sugar and baseball. The history of players from San Pedro is also a chronicle of racism in baseball, changing social mores in sports and in the Dominican Republic, and the personal stories of the many men who sought freedom from poverty through playing ball. The story of baseball in San Pedro is also that of the Caribbean in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and on a broader level opens a window into our country's history.
As with Kurlansky's Cod and Salt, this small story, rich with anecdote and detail, becomes much larger than ever imagined. Kurlansky reveals two countries' love affair with a sport and the remarkable journey of San Pedro and its baseball players. In his distinctive style, he follows common threads and discovers wider meanings about place, identity, and, above all, baseball.
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"In 1956, Ozzie (Osvaldo) Virgil played his first rookie season with the New York Giants, becoming the first Dominican baseball player to enter the major leagues in America. Over the next half a century, 471 Dominicans played in at least one major league game, and one in six of those players have come from the small sugar mill town of San Pedro de Macors. As he has done so masterfully in his earlier bestselling books on cod, salt, and oysters, Kurlansky homes in on a singular subject and magnifies its every facet under the brilliant light of his investigative reporting, his historical sensibility, and his lively storytelling. With the embargo on Cuban exports beginning in 1962, the U.S. shifted its attention to the Dominican Republic, not only for sugar production but for baseball players. Many of these players, such as Sammy Sosa, gained tremendous fame with their talent in the sport while others, such as Pedro Santana, who played only one game with the Detroit Tigers, returned to San Pedro de Macors with broken dreams. Kurlansky weaves a chronicle of the history of San Pedro de Macors with the stories of young men seeking only to play baseball and escape the drudgery of working the sugarcane fields to produce a colorful social history of sport." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In his distinctive style, Kurlansky examines the staggering amount of baseball talent that has originated in the impoverished area of San Pedro, in the Dominican Republic, and discovers wider meanings about place, identity, and, above all, baseball.
"A fantastic social history" from the author of Salt and Cod (USA Today)
In the Dominican Republic town of San Pedro de Macorís, baseball is often seen as the only way to a better life. For those who make it, the million-dollar paychecks from Major League Baseball mean that not only they, but their entire families as well, have been saved from grinding poverty. The successful few set an example that dazzles the neighbors they left behind. But for the majority, this dream is illusory.
In The Eastern Stars, New York Times bestselling author Mark Kurlansky reveals the connection between two countries' love affair with a sport, and the remarkable journey of impoverished San Pedro and its baseball players-including Rico Carty, Albert Pujols, Robinson Canó, Sammy Sosa, and Alfonso Soriano-who have sought freedom from poverty through playing ball.
"Este es un clásico de Kurlansky: erudito, impredecible, compasivo, y se lee compulsivamente. . . . Una reveladora meditación sobre el deporte, la nación, y también sobre el mundo".
-Junot Díaz, autor de La breve y maravillosa vida de Oscar Wao
"¿Qué tienen en común Rico Carty, Alfredo Griffin, Pedro Guerrero, George Bell, Julio Franco, Juan Samuel, Sammy Sosa, Alfonso Soriano, y Robinson Canó? Que todos proceden de San Pedro de Macorís, la pequeña ciudad azucarera en la República Dominicana. ¿Una coincidencia? Difícilmente". -National Public Radio
Al final de la temporada de 2010, más de ochenta y seis jóvenes y hombres de la empobrecida ciudad de San Pedro de Macorís jugaban en las Grandes Ligas -lo que significa que uno de cada seis dominicanos de las Grandes Ligas vinieron de los mismos equipos locales de los ingenios azucareros, y acudieron en masa a los Estados Unidos en busca de oportunidades, de riqueza, y de una vida mejor. Pero este viaje es también una crónica del racismo en el béisbol, de la necesidad de cambiar las costumbres sociales del deporte en la República Dominicana y en los Estados Unidos, y de las historias personales de los hombres que han buscado escapar de la pobreza jugando béisbol.
En Las Estrellas Orientales, Mark Kurlansky revela el amor de dos países por un deporte, y descubre unos significados más profundos sobre lugar y identidad, tenacidad y supervivencia, colonialismo y capitalismo, pero especialmente sobre el béisbol.
About the Author
Mark Kurlansky is the New York Times bestselling author of many books, including The Food of a Younger Land, Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World; Salt: A World History; 1968: The Year That Rocked the World; and The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell. He lives in New York City.