We all have books like that, right? I was really looking forward to Barbed Wire Baseball, which I saw on display and grabbed at the library weeks ago. It’s a picture book, so when its number finally came up it didn’t take long to read; sadly, it just wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be.
To be fair, some of that is my own fault. I love history, but I’m just not passionate about baseball; I was expecting more history and less “baseball makes everything better.” The book tells the story of ‘the father of Japanese-American baseball,’ who was interned in Arizona during WWII, along with his wife and two teenage sons. He built an actual baseball field within the internment camp–bleachers and all–and organized teams and a playing schedule, giving his fellow internees a piece of normalcy in a crazy world.
It’s a neat piece of history, you know? That’s what drew me to the book in the first place. Unfortunately, one painful typo set my teeth on edge, and worse, one bit of historical inaccuracy made me cringe; the author said that those interned were American citizens. Many of the Japanese who were interned were American citizens, yes, but many of them weren’t. NOT that that makes anything better, you understand. I’m fully aware that many who weren’t citizens would have been if they had been ALLOWED to be, and I don’t think a government punishing immigrants for not doing what was illegal to do is any better than a government interning its own citizens. It’s an ugly piece of history any way you look at it. My OCD, however, can’t deal with the author simplifying the injustice at the expense of truth. (I felt the same way about Jennifer Roy’s Yellow Star. The introduction specifically stated that being Jewish had nothing to do with ethnicity, that it was a religion that anyone could join. And yes, anyone can convert to Judaism. That doesn’t change the fact that there are also ethnic Jews, and the Nazis didn’t care that some of those were, in fact, converted Christians. Or atheists, for that matter.)
Here’s the thing. If you’re passionate about baseball, you’ll probably enjoy the book anyway. The typo may have been fixed, and the inaccuracy doesn’t necessarily detract from the story. If you’re passionate about history, though, it may just bug you–and if you don’t care much about baseball one way or the other, you’re probably better off skipping this one altogether.