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GOOD IN PARTS
on 9 February 2013
A rather mixed bag, this one. Parts are very interesting, while others are over long and unnecessarily detailed.
This is not a chronological biography in any way resembling the outstanding book by Leo Katcher: rather it picks up various details that appeared in Katcher's book which it then expands, clarifies or seeks to correct, as the case may be. As it is a relatively recent work, as opposed to Katcher's of 1959, one must assume that recent research has enabled Mr. Pietrusza to correct some earlier misconceptions. I am in no position to judge. What I can say, however, is that the earlier book was more comprehensive, and at the same time, concise. In fact, if I hadn't read the earlier work first, I would be somewhat confused by the selective approach that Pietrusza adopts towards his subject. He clearly prefers to deal with different aspects of Rothstein's life according to the subject matter rather than to timeline.
There are several nuggets of information to be found here that did not appear earlier, but you would really have to be familiar with the Rothstein story to appreciate them. The whole 1919 World Series episode is overworked, and becomes somewhat tiresome to read, without really adding anything of substance to what I already knew. It is stuffed full of shady characters, adding a lot of unnecessary detail, and I was relieved when I finally got to the end of this section.
The chapter dealing with the possible assassin was, on the other hand, most revealing and worthwhile.
As I have already said, this book is good in parts, and certainly worth reading if you want to know more than you would find in the average biography, but it is more in the nature of a complementary book than a biography in its own right.