Reviews for The Echoing Green

The New York Times Book Review, John Thorn

“The title of Joshua Prager’s winning new book comes from Blake, its theme of suspicion and guilt from Hawthorne, its method from Woodward and Bernstein. A baseball whodunit on an epic scale, it offers a heretofore secret view of the game’s most memorable moment, a view that challenges verities about fair play, right conduct and lasting fame…. ‘The Echoing Green’ is a revelation and a page turner, a group character study unequaled in baseball writing since Roger Kahn’s ‘Boys of Summer’ some three decades ago.”

The New York Times City Section, Sam Roberts

“He has artfully woven into a delightful book the events and reverberations of that infamous game…. You don’t have to believe that the Giants stole the game to enjoy ‘The Echoing Green’ (the title is from a poem by William Blake). You don’t even have to like baseball. That moment defined a generation. It also molded the complicated relationship between Ralph Branca and Bobby Thomson, which Mr. Prager explores in captivating fashion.”

The Washington Post, Elliott Vanskike

“One of the Best Books of the Year”

“With novelistic detail and cinematic sweep, [Prager] situates Thomson’s home run amid the daily lives of ordinary fans and against the backdrop of the Korean War and Soviet atomic tests….

The prose cracks along. At 3:58, the moment Thomson’s drive entered the left-field stands, Prager stops time, and the narrative whips around the country to show us that Thomson’s mother has just collapsed, George Carlin has accidentally tossed his cat toward an open window, a boy in New Jersey has hurled his peanut butter toast at the TV, and a Brooklyn Girl Scout troop has collectively burst into tears.

In thrilling passages like these, Prager captures the enduring impact of the memorable moments that mark our lives.”

San Francisco Chronicle, G. Allen Johnson

“‘The Echoing Green’ is the sports book of the year, an ambitious work by Wall Street Journal reporter Joshua Prager. It not only gives us the story behind the most famous home run in major-league history… but provides a social snapshot of the time.

There is also great detail about the dirty secret behind that home run — that the Giants were stealing signs — and to some, the homer is as tainted as a steroid-fueled record.”

Keith Olbermann, NBC, ESPN

“To read The Echoing Green is to not just feel the sweat, but also to hear the distant rumblings of the secret machinations of the singular 1951 pennant race. As good as any baseball book, or maybe historical work, you’ll find.”

Baseball Prospectus, Dan Fox

“The clock is ticking as we fans must find that special something for that special someone. Provided that your special someone is a baseball fan, here’s a suggestion: a book that perhaps has the broadest appeal across fans of any level of commitment is ‘The Echoing Green: The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World,’ by Joshua Prager, a senior special projects writer at the Wall Street Journal.

Prager doesn’t miss a beat in cataloguing the context and impact of the home run and how it became a part of our collective memory. Read for that viewpoint alone, the book is valuable in giving one a sense of feel for the times through total immersion in the event. Movingly captured…. Painstakingly researched….”

Kirkus, Starred

“A masterful blend of journalism, sports history, social history and even literature: one of the best baseball books to appear in a long time.”

Publishers Weekly, Starred

“One of the Best Books of the Year”

“Prager, a senior special writer at the Wall Street Journal, has written a brilliant narrative not only about the most famous homerun in baseball history but also about the mystery that haunts it. … He paints a marvelous portrait of New York City baseball in the tradition of The Boys of Summer and Summer of ’49, bringing to life once again a genuine piece of Americana.”

Booklist, Starred

“Wall Street Journal reporter Prager brings to the tale both a revealing focus on the entwined lives of Thomson and Branca and the first in-depth examination of the scandal that lurked beneath the surface of the Giants’ victory…. His psychobiographies of Thomson and especially Branca are unfailingly compelling.”

Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of A Team of Rivals

“For anyone, like me, who followed baseball during the golden age portrayed here, this wonderful book is an absolute treasure. But it is far more than a book about baseball; it is a beautifully rendered story about the relationship between two men whose lives became permanently intertwined in a matter of minutes one October day more than half a century ago. A master storyteller, Prager captures the reader from beginning to end.”

Roger Kahn, author of The Boys of Summer

“Through diligent, painstaking and persistent research, Joshua Prager brings the 1951 pennant race to life in The ‘Echoing Green.’ He adds Tabasco to the story by charging that the Giants were stealing signs at the Polo Grounds and that Thomson knew what Ralph Branca was about to throw him–a mediocre fast ball. This is juicy stuff and Prager’s portrait of the time and the people in it is quite splendid.”

Sports Illustrated, Charles Hirshberg

“Prager turns his remarkable powers of investigation on the men involved in the scheme. The result is an absorbing critique of the competitive ethic that too often rules not only America’s playing fields but its boardrooms as well.”

New York Post, Mike Vaccaro

“You will not find a better-reported book on any subject than ‘The Echoing Green,’ Joshua Prager’s definitive narrative on the 1951 pennant race, the Shot Heard Round the World, and the splendid way both Ralph Branca and Bobby Thomson have led their lives in the 55 years since.”

The Washington Times, Dick Heller

“‘The Echoing Green’ renders incomplete all predecessors. The research is exhaustive and the story as compelling as it was originally in telling how the most famous home run ever decided the most astonishing pennant pursuit ever between the greatest rivals ever.”

The Buffalo News, Herman Trotter

“The depth of Prager’s research staggers the mind…. This definitive study of one of the great moments in the history of American sport is a must-have for baseball mavens.”

Entertainment Weekly, Chris Nashawaty Grade A

“According to ace Wall Street Journal reporter Prager, there was more to it than Ralph Branca’s fat pitch and Thomson’s clutch swing…. Let the call-in radio debate begin.”

New York Observer, Evan Hughes

“A richly textured and engaging book that recounts that season’s epic duel and incontrovertibly proves what many people would rather not know…. The author writes fluidly and excels at conveying the drama unique to a baseball pennant race, played out in daily installments from spring to summer to autumn. He skillfully threads into the narrative both the personal histories of Bobby Thomson and Ralph Branca and the broader history of mid-century America.”

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Michael McIntyre

“The detail of ‘The Echoing Green’ versus the mere story of the stolen signs is the difference between a ‘SportsCenter’ highlight and a seat along the first base line…. Prager, like a good hurler with a command of many pitches, delivers nuance even when you’re expecting a fastball.”

The Springfield Republican, Tom Shea

“Joshua Prager’s fabulous book…. written with the drama of the bottom of a ninth inning in a tight game.”

The Ottawa Citizen, James Macgowan

“Glorious…. What a treat this book is. The research, the writing, the sense of time and
place and smell and noise. It’s all here.”

Tampa Tribune, Bob D’Angelo A+

“An exquisitely detailed, exhaustively researched book.. Prager’s research and gripping narrative makes for a compelling read.”

The Miami Herald, Mark E. Hayes

“A lavishly detailed record of the 1951 National League pennant race….
Wonderful digressions weave throughout the book…. More than the pitch-to-pitch, inning-to-inning, game-to-game recounting of a season, ‘The Echoing Green’ paints a portrait of a group of men ultimately bound together by a single moment. At its most compelling and thoughtful, the book meditates on the meaning of that home run in the legacies changed forever by a single crack of the bat.”

The Raleigh News & Observer, Louis D. Rubin Jr.

“Amply researched, ably written, The Echoing Green is a good story, well told.”

The Boston Globe, David Maloof

“Prager skillfully reveals the people behind the simple-minded images… goes well beyond the simple perception of that home run in ways that give this event a deeper, more complex meaning.”

The Boston Globe, Bob Ryan

“I’m reading a fascinating book entitled ‘The Echoing Green.’ It is the startling story of the 1951 New York Giants, who on July 20 of that season, began stealing rival catchers’ signs from their center field offices at the Polo Grounds by using a telescope belonging to utility infielder Hank Schenz….
I grew up a passionate Giants fan, and I must tell you it is a difficult book to read.”

Society for American Baseball Research [SABR], John Eigenauer

“Beautifully documented and intensely engaging…. The Echoing Green is first class history…. I offer the book my highest rating and endorse it unconditionally to casual fan and serious historian alike.”

800-CEO-READ, Jack Covert

“As in most great baseball books, this is a book about an era, about a team and about a world that seems more in control.. Seriously, this is a great read that you will remember for a long time.”

BookPage, Martin Brady

“Expanding on a story he first covered for the Wall Street Journal, Prager infuses his text with a solid, ’50s focused sociological underpinning, charts the emotional roller coaster experienced by devoted fans and offers keen insight into the nature of the predominant print and radio reportage ofthe day…. Prager’s magnum opus is directed toward thoughtful,historically inclined baseball fans—the ones who know why the Thomson round-tripper is one of the game’s most important moments, or who may even remember it happening.”

Bookreporter.com, Stuart Shiffman

“‘The Echoing Green’ is more than a story of a baseball game and the players who participated; it is a wonderful work of history that happens to chronicle the 1951 National League pennant race between the Dodgers and the Giants…. [Prager] has captured the essence of an important era in American life.”

Scotland on Sunday, Tom English

“If baseball leaves you cold then don’t worry. This is human interest, triumph and tragedy and regret and, ultimately, understanding and closure. It’s an epic adventure with Glasgow’s own Thomson at the heart of it…. Prager’s narrative is compelling and heart-rending.”