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Play for a Kingdom

von Thomas Dyja

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1353162,494 (4)7
May, 1864. In a moment of quiet during the endgame between Grant and Lee, a Union and a Confederate company meet, not entirely by accident. The Union soldiers are a motley company of Irish, English, and German stock, all ragged and worn from the Battle of the Wilderness. Left behind to guard their army's flank, they decide to relax with a baseball and bat when, as if by magic, a company of Alabama infantry appears from the woods. These ordinary soldiers determine to play baseball with the enemy, perhaps for diversion, perhaps to remind themselves that they are still human. In the ensuing days, Brooklyn meets Alabama four more times on the playing field, even though their armies collide in the horror now known as Spotsylvania. As every game and skirmish brings them closer to a violent end, what began as a game turns into a business as serious as death and dishonor, and each soldier realizes the price and the prize that betrayal offers.… (mehr)
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I got this book because I enjoy reading historical fiction, particularly about the Civil War; and I also wanted to read it because of the tie-in to baseball. My father pitched in church league softball for years, and both my brothers played little league. One of my brothers played baseball in both high school and college and then continued on to Twilight league. I spent most of my childhood and much of my adult life following baseball games at one level or another of play. So, the idea of Confederates and Yankees meeting on a make-shift baseball field was interesting to me. This is not to imply, though, that any special knowledge of baseball or the Civil War is necessary to enjoying this book. It is riveting all on its own. Dyja has quite a story to tell, and he does it by taking a group of men of various backgrounds and merging them into a story about evaluating their own lives as well as what each of them comes to believe is his purpose as a soldier. The key moment for me was when one of the men, with more insight than is the norm, realizes that he is not in the war situation to win anything. He is there either to kill or be killed and that is all. For me, Dyja brilliantly makes the point that whether it's the war in Afghanistan or Iraq or the Civil War, war is war whatever century it takes place and no matter what men are forced to fight it. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys excellent writing and storytelling as well as what humanity is really all about. ( )
  GabbyHayze | Mar 12, 2013 |
18th Century historical fiction is becoming a popular genre, but this one breaks the mold. Hard to describe, but it interweaves the Civil War, espionage, and baseball. A great story! ( )
  jaygheiser | Jul 23, 2008 |
How can I not love this novel? I'm the one who supplied Tom Dyja with the Latin dialogue for the crucial exchanges between the two main characters... ( )
  klg19 | Jan 26, 2008 |
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May, 1864. In a moment of quiet during the endgame between Grant and Lee, a Union and a Confederate company meet, not entirely by accident. The Union soldiers are a motley company of Irish, English, and German stock, all ragged and worn from the Battle of the Wilderness. Left behind to guard their army's flank, they decide to relax with a baseball and bat when, as if by magic, a company of Alabama infantry appears from the woods. These ordinary soldiers determine to play baseball with the enemy, perhaps for diversion, perhaps to remind themselves that they are still human. In the ensuing days, Brooklyn meets Alabama four more times on the playing field, even though their armies collide in the horror now known as Spotsylvania. As every game and skirmish brings them closer to a violent end, what began as a game turns into a business as serious as death and dishonor, and each soldier realizes the price and the prize that betrayal offers.

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