The American Game by Jeff McArthur

The American Game

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Few things throughout the years have unified enemy soldiers.

The most memorable was the singing of “Silent Night” by opposing forces on a Christmas Eve almost a hundred years ago which became problematic for the leadership of both sides. Despite the military leaders and the politicians, most people saw this events as the joining of humanity while temporarily putting aside differences. These instantaneous events prove the vulnerability but also strength of character in all those who were privileged and fortunate enough to be part of the unexpected gifts uniting people.

Jeff McArthur researched the Civil War battles and events discovering that baseball was often successful in unification while political leaders failed with compromises. Yankees facing Rebels sometimes shared an old-fashioned game of baseball. With a variety of ever changing rules, substituting anything available for bases and bats, the game became a unifying element proving that the people are basically the same no matter where they are born or who they choose their alliances.

The American Game excelled with the sense of place and time. For example when some Confederate soldiers were relaxing, they would play a game using stale bread as a ball in a simple game with rules constantly changing to meet the current situation. How many strikes were allowed? What can be used as a bat? How far apart are the bases? These varied as much as the players. The game was called stick ball, cricket, fletch-catch, and city ball with many more other names for what would eventually evolve into baseball.

Another positive and realistic aspect of The American Game was the age of the characters. In almost every time of war, many men were really boys. Viewing the wars through the eyes of boys definitely changes the perspective of the reader. The soldiers on the ground involved with the fighting were boys, as has been frequently found in every war.

Sometimes in this novel, it is difficult to separate the Confederates from the Union soldiers. However this book was written while looking at their commonalities, not their differences. Perhaps this was intentional by the author.

This is not a book for children or teens. The language and events are only for adult readers.

The focus of The American Game is a field somewhere in the middle of Tennessee, The two sides met with a different type of combat, the winning of games. What did they have to do to play ball with the enemy? As the wagers increase so do the risks.

Jeff McArthur is a native of Nebraska. For his education, he studied the film and the television business at New York University leading him into the film industry for fifteen years in Los Angeles. Mr. McArthur has written a variety of fiction and non-fiction books including the Relic Worlds science fiction series and Pro Bono which is about his grandfather’s case as a lawyer while defending Caril Ann Fugate. He then wrote The Great Heist-The Biggest Bank Robbery in History. Additionally Jeff McArthur is the author of The Table of Truth and Stolen Souls.

For a different book for the history buffs, the baseball fans, and those who enjoy fresh approaches to both baseball and the American Civil War, read The American Game.

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