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Take Time for Paradise: Americans and Their…

Take Time for Paradise: Americans and Their Games (original 1989; edition 2011)

by A. Bartlett Giamatti, Jon Meacham

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1514979,164 (3.56)20
Title:Take Time for Paradise: Americans and Their Games
Authors:A. Bartlett Giamatti
Other authors:Jon Meacham
Info:Bloomsbury USA (2011), Edition: Reprint, Hardcover, 128 pages
Collections:Your library, To read

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Take Time for Paradise: Americans and Their Games by A. Bartlett Giamatti (1989)


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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
When a piece of sports writing references, in the first few pages of the first chapter, Shakespeare, Thomas Carlyle, historian Allen Guttman, and Welsh metaphysical poet Henry Vaughan (1621-95), you can be pretty sure it's about baseball. No other sport seems to produce quite the kind of prose baseball does. Bart Giamatti was a master of that prose -- his "The Green Fields of the Mind" is a stands out even among the many great pieces of writing collected in Baseball: A Literary Anthology -- but also a master of the quality of thought required to keep that sort of prose from being pretentious or downright ridiculous. "Take Time for Paradise" won't take long to read, but its reflections on the nature of cities, of sports and leisure, and ultimate of being human, will stick with you for a long time.

The second section of this essay, called "Community," includes some thoughts on why home plate on a baseball diamond is called "home." It brought to mind, of all things, George Carlin's bit contrasting pastoral baseball, where the object is to get safely home, with martial football, where the objective is to penetrate the opponent's defense and rush or throw a bomb into his end zone. Carlin plays it for laughs, but it's making much the same point Giamatti is. There's a reason baseball carries so much nostalgia with it. As Mary McGrory said, "Baseball is what we were. Football is what we have become." If football is a metaphor for war and empire (and hardly even a metaphor anymore -- see Gregg Easterbrook's new "The King of Sports: Football's Impact on America"), then baseball can be a metaphor for life. Or as George Will might, and probably already has, put it, life is a metaphor for baseball. Either way, take time for "Take Time for Paradise." You don't have to be a philosopher to enjoy baseball (fortunately), but sometimes a little philosophy can help. ( )
1 vote Cascadian | Oct 9, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Bart Giamatti's slim tome on baseball is a meditative look at art and heart of America's past time. Anyone looking for the hard hitting jackassery of Leo Durocher's "Nice Guys Finish Last" or the goofy hijinks of "Ball Four" might find "Take Time For Paradise" quaintly sedate. This book reveals the soul of the game both on the diamond and in the stands. If baseball is the zen sport of the Americas, Giamatti has explained it all in a gem of a book that deepens any fan's appreciation for that stillness in the summer heat broken by the soft whoosh of a pitch, the batter's swing and the explosive connection with the ball followed by the staccato call from the umpire. A satisfying keeper. ( )
1 vote jasfaulkner | Aug 8, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In this magnificent gem of a book, Bart Giamatti argues for a classical view of sports and leisure generally. Drawing heavily from Aristotle and Shakespeare, he argues that the mark of truly free people is in how they use their freedom. Many areas of our public and private lives have some element of "work" to them, some compulsion to produce in a particular way, but in our games, we live by the rules which we choose for no particular reason at all. When we play a game, we choose to create the game's world for a while, and even when we participate as spectators, we hope to see a spectacular performance within that created world. This is a philosophical, abstract section; beautiful but (as other reviewers have noted) deceptively deep in places.

In the second section of the book, Giamatti considers the role of sports in cities, pointing out the social benefits and tensions in our arenas. This section is somewhat more practical and less theoretical. With twenty-some additional years, we can see Giamatti's predictions coming through in some places, such as his concern over athlete's salaries and the cost of the sport becoming a barrier between the athlete and the fans. In others, such as the issues around steroids and cheating, we can only wonder how he might have handled the 90s or 2000s. As the first section makes you think about theories, the second section makes you consider our current world of leisure.

The third section is a smart man's paean to his beloved sport of baseball. The baseball section of your local library or bookstore is chock-full of this kind of writing, and Giamatti's is as good as anyone else's I've read. That said, it's not particularly better, nor does it reflect his status as commissioner in any obvious way. Perfectly nice to read, though, and a dense volume like this probably does need a lighter ending. ( )
  hipdeep | Jun 9, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Giamatti certainly had a high love of baseball, and of sport in general, as you can see by this treatise. It comes across clearly, even through the more formally written, philosophical prose. He situates it within the ideas of what the purpose of life is, what we really should seek to do, and the amount of freedom we can get, the way that freedom and enjoyment can be enhanced by a set of rules to work with it in, and connecting that with American ideals. Overall, yes, this is well-written and thought provoking sports philosophy.

That said, man, it's slim... and if I didn't know that it actually was completed and out for publication before Giamatti died, I would have figured it for an incomplete posthumous publication. I don't think I really got a summation of his arguments, as I often expect from academic pieces of this length, and it's quite svelte for a non-academic book, indeed. I did enjoy it, and you can try to imagine what else he might have had to say had he left longer, but I can't see this as much but a library read, if you run into it. ( )
  Capfox | Apr 13, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I love baseball, but I couldn't get through this book. Too dry. Maybe another time. ( )
  mhgatti | Feb 24, 2012 |
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"A philosophical musing on sports and play, this wholly inspiring and utterly charming reissue of Bart Giamatti's long-out-of-print final book, Take Time for Paradise, puts baseball in the context of American life and leisure. Giamatti begins with the conviction that our use of free time tells us something about who we are. He explores the concepts of leisure, American-style. And in baseball, the quintessential American game, he finds its ultimate expression. "Sports and leisure are our reiteration of the hunger for paradise for freedom untrammeled." Filled with pithy truths about such resonant subjects as ritual, self-betterment, faith, home, and community, Take Time for Paradise gives us much more than just baseball. These final, eloquent thoughts of "the philosopher king of baseball" (Seattle Weekly) are a joyful, reverent celebration of the sport Giamatti loved and the country that created it"--… (more)

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