Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Review of "Dodgerland"

My favorite era of baseball was during the 1970's and 1980's so when I can find reading material on baseball during that time frame, I usually grab it as soon as I can. That was the case when I saw that the University of Nebraska Press offered me an advance review copy of this book on the 1977-78 Los Angeles Dodgers. A terrific read that any baseball fan will enjoy.  Here is my review of "Dodgerland." 

“Dodgerland: Decadent Los Angeles and the 1977-78 Dodgers” by Michael Fallon

Baseball, professional, Dodgers, society

Publish date:
June 1, 2016

472 pages

5 of 5 stars (outstanding)

The Los Angeles Dodgers of the late 1970’s came close to winning two championships but fell in consecutive years to the New York Yankees in the World Series. They were a team that was comprised of mostly homegrown players who stuck together through some tough seasons before finding success in 1977 and 1978.  They also epitomized the culture of their home city with many people looking for a carefree, easier life on the beach in the land of Hollywood. This connection between the city and its baseball team is illustrated in this terrific book by Michael Fallon.

While the bulk of the material is about the two seasons in which the Dodgers won the National League pennant, it does not read like a typical book about a team’s adventures during a season. The personal accounts of several players (Bob Welch, Glenn Burke, Steve Garvey and Rick Monday just to name a few) as well as the new manager of the team, Tommy Lasorda, give the reader an inside look at the team.

The writing about the baseball itself is very entertaining. There are many comparisons between the baseball and some of the events that were going on in the city at that time. One example that I thought was particularly entertaining was Fallon’s description of the match-up for the 1977 World Series. Most of the buzz that year from Hollywood was for the movie “Star Wars.” Fallon compared the World Series participants to characters from the movie with the Dodgers playing the part of Obi Wan Kenobi (good) and the Yankees as Darth Vader (evil). That single line was just perfect for describing the mood of the time in both baseball and pop culture.

Other issues affecting Los Angeles such as Mayor Bradley bidding for the 1984 Summer Olympics, the passage of tax-cutting Proposition 13 and the murders of the Hillside Strangler are also included as well as the culture of the times, such as the rise of the adult entertainment industry in the region. Interspersing these items into the writing about the Dodgers’ travails on and off the field makes for fascinating reading that illustrates that the team was a true reflection of its city. 

This book is recommended not only for baseball fans but also for readers who are interested in social history or who want to learn more about the culture of Los Angeles during that time. With excellent writing, interesting stories and terrific coverage of the 1977 and 1978 seasons for the Dodgers, the book is one that should be added to many readers’ libraries.

I wish to thank University of Nebraska Press for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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