Randy Roberts and Johnny SmithFeb 9, 2021
Boston, Baseball, and America in the Shadow of the Great War
Basic Books 2020
In the fall of 1918, a fever gripped Boston. The streets emptied as paranoia about the deadly Spanish flu spread. Newspapermen and vigilante investigators aggressively sought to discredit anyone who looked or sounded German.
And as the war raged on, the enemy seemed to be lurking everywhere: prowling in submarines off the coast of Cape Cod, arriving on passenger ships in the harbor, or disguised as the radicals lecturing workers about the injustice of a sixty-hour workweek.
War Fever: Boston, Baseball, and America in the Shadow of the Great War (Basic Books, 2020) explores this delirious moment in American history through the stories of three men: Karl Muck, the German conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, accused of being an enemy spy; Charles Whittlesey, a Harvard law graduate who became an unlikely hero in Europe; and the most famous baseball player of all time, Babe Ruth, poised to revolutionize the game he loved. Together, they offer a gripping narrative of America at war and American culture in upheaval.
Zach McCulley (@zamccull) is a historian of religion and literary cultures in early modern England and PhD Candidate in History at Queen's University Belfast.