The premise of the book, that baseball star George (Babe) Ruth (also known as "the Bambino") was part black is a reasonable one, even if you do not consider some of his facial figures. Despite all the laws and social mores to the contrary, there was significant interbreeding between blacks and whites as soon as black slaves first arrived in the United States. Many slave owners thought nothing of being sexually involved with their female slaves, one writer, whose name I cannot bring to mind, wrote about traveling through slave territory and seeing many mulatto children of slaves that looked a great deal like their master. Therefore, the ban on anyone with an African ancestry playing in the major leagues was being broken on a regular basis. Reasonable estimates are that ten percent of the population passing itself off as white in the first half of the twentieth century had some African ancestry. The initial timeframe of this book is the twenty-first century and aging and former Negro league star LeRoy Griffin knew Babe Ruth when he played and holds proof of a great secret, that Ruth had a black grandmother. LeRoy's niece Cammie accompanies him to the office of Darwin Barney, a Preppie white young lawyer in Kansas City. LeRoy's goal is to have the truth of Ruth's black heritage come out. However, there are sinister forces that will do almost anything to prevent that secret from becoming public. These forces resort to murder, threats of murder and beatings in order to get their way, killing LeRoy and others and threatening Cammie. While this seems to be a bit absurd in the modern world, the falsity of this premise does not diminish the quality of the story. The story moves back and forth between the times of Babe Ruth's playing days, the current time of Darwin and Cammie, the time immediately before Babe was born and all the way back to the events in the lives of his ancestors that led to the creation of his family tree. This tactic builds the sequence in pieces, but the emphasis is on the Babe and modern times. While I don't know all the details of Ruth's life, I know enough to understand that he is depicted as he lived. Ruth was largely an immature child in a man's body; he rarely kept a roommate for any length of time. Common complaints against him were that he refused to flush the toilet, ate and drank heavily, was a slob and had a regular rotation of prostitutes in his room. His teammates loved him professionally and hated him personally. Through all the murders, racism and baseball history, this is also a love story and one of reconciliation between the races. In the end, the people are just people, some are ballplayers and others are lovers who find what they are looking for in unexpected places. The story gripped me at the beginning and held me throughout; it is a history of the United States as expressed through baseball.
Three things shine through in this debut novel by J. Anderson Cross --His detailed research and analysis on the historical aspects of his debut novel --His sincere passion for the subject of baseball and race --His inexperience as a writer "The Bambino Secret" as history is based on speculation, because of his dark complexion and large facial features, that Babe Ruth had African-American genes in his family tree. While there is … more
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
Consider the Source
Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.