STALIN’S DAUGHTER: THE EXTRAORDINARY AND TUMULTUOUS LIFE OF SVETLANA ALLILUYEVA by Rosemary Sullivan

(Stalin and Svetlana during her early teens)

When one thinks about the demonic characters that dominated the twentieth century most people do not focus on the impact their lives have had on their offspring.  But with Rosemary Sullivan’s remarkable new biography, STALIN’S DAUGHTER: THE EXTRAORDINARY AND TUMULTUOUS LIFE OF SVETLANA ALLILUYEVA we have just such a book.  Sullivan’s narrative and analysis is thoughtful and reasoned and by the conclusion of her 623 page effort the reader will feel they have entered a surreal world that explored not only Stalin’s child, but the author of the cult of personality that dominated Russian history from 1924 until his death in 1953.  What emerges is a portrait of a child who is raised in the ultimate dysfunctional family.  Svetlana had to endure the suicide of her mother, Nadya in 1932, the erratic emotional roll a coaster that was her father, and the demands of being the daughter of a man who was responsible either directly or indirectly for the deaths of between 20 and 40 million people. This leads to a flawed adulthood that saw four marriages, countless love affairs, and a wandering nature that saw her abandon her own children when she first defected to the United States in 1967, later returning to the Soviet Union in 1984 and again in 1986, then traveling to England and finally dying in the United States in 2011.

Sullivan has done an extraordinary job in piecing together Svetlana’s life.  Relying on her subject’s own published writings and private papers, interviews, and other documents she has prepared an incredible story that would be difficult to imagine.  Sullivan begins by describing Svetlana’s defection to the United States which she correctly begins a pattern of escapism and the need to fill an emotional hole in her psyche that is repeated throughout her life.  From this point on Sullivan successfully transitions to a description of a childhood growing up in the Kremlin and her interactions with her mother, Nadya, a deeply flawed woman who finally succumbed to the pressures of dealing with an abusive husband by committing suicide when her daughter was only six.  What amazed me was Sullivan’s description of the environment which Svetlana was raised.  Stalin’s household mirrored that of Tsarist royalty that the Bolshevik revolution was designed to replace.  Nannies, special schools, summer homes, pseudo palaces, tennis courts were all part of the picture.  Svetlana spent little time with her mother, and Sullivan remarks that her father was more affectionate toward her than her mother.  The result was that Svetlana became an emotionally needy child, a state of mind that would dominate her actions for the remainder of her life.

Sullivan is able to weave the major events of the Stalinist regime into her biography.  Purges, collectivization, show trials of the 1930s, the Nazi invasion of June, 1941, the devastation caused by World War II, and the Cold War are all portrayed in detail through the lens of Stalin’s daughter and the effect they had on her life.  The disappearance of family members and others who made her childhood secure made it very difficult for Svetlana as she had no idea why things were happening.  Her mother’s suicide was especially difficult, and once she learned the truth as to what occurred during the war her view of her father radically changed and she began to perceive him as the monster that he was.  Stalin’s impact on his daughter’s emotional life was profound as he prevented her from pursuing certain relationships, forced her to attend Kremlin events with his cronies late at night in the Kremlin and perform for them, forced her to attend certain schools, but most importantly played a game of withholding his parental love on and off throughout her childhood.

(Svetlana defects to the United States in 1967)

It is not surprising that Svetlana evolved into a very confused and emotionally flawed individual prone to impulsive actions to fill the vacuum in her life.  “Her first love, the prominent screenwriter Aleksei Kapler, was sent to labor camps when Stalin learned of their courtship.  Her half-brother Yakov, with whom she was close, perished in a German P.O.W. camp after Stalin refused a prisoner exchange to save him.  Her remaining brother, Vasili, died of alcoholism two days short of his 41st birthday.” (New York Times, “Stalin’s Daughter,” by Rosemary Sullivan, by Olga Grushin, June 12, 2015) Svetlana married Grigori Morozov, a Jewish college student when she was eighteen.  Stalin hated Jews as he always believed that there was a Jewish conspiracy against him throughout his life.  There was no marriage celebration and Stalin did not meet him before the wedding.  By eighteen, Svetlana was pregnant.  As her marriage deteriorated and she went through three painful abortions she sought the emotional support of her father that was not there.  In this instance and others, Sullivan points out that Svetlana “grew disparate as she did not know how to be alone.  Alone she felt totally exposed.  She thought she would be safe if only she could entwine her life in another, but then, once she had achieved this, she would feel suffocated, a pattern that would take decades to break, if she ever succeeded.” (136)

When her father finally died in 1953, Svetlana’s unstable psychological profile produces feelings of guilt that she was not a good daughter and that she could have done more to help their relationship.  Grief can distort one’s feelings and true to her nature her own willful blindness distorted her view of reality.  Following her father’s death Svetlana disavowed politics and tried to keep herself as anonymous as possible.  However, this goal was constrained by the fact that she was deemed as “state property” by the new government.  People’s reactions to her would always be filtered by their view of her father.  A greater impact on her life was Nikita Khrushchev’s “DeStalinization Speech” on February 25, 1956 before the Twentieth Party Congress in which the Soviet leader laid bare Stalin’s crimes.  Svetlana was terrified that she would be identified with her father and hated, so as usual she withdrew into isolation.  By 1957 she would change her name from Stalina to her mother’s maiden name, Alliluyeva.  She would become a gossip target because of her failed marriages and sexual affairs, reflecting the contempt that developed in Soviet society for her father.  Svetlana suffered from a compulsive need to turn each love affair into marriage.  No matter how many bad relationships she suffered she always held on to the belief that marriage would provide a bulwark against inevitable loss.  Sullivan is correct in arguing that “at core she was an emotional orphan with a tragic frailty that always threatened to sink her.” (222)

Sullivan explores the most important aspects of Svetlana’s journey as she prepares her first memoir TWENTY LETTERS TO A FRIEND.  The book explores her “cruel bereavements,” disappointments and losses as she describes her childhood and personal relationships.  The book revealed no state secrets and had no political agenda apart from condemning the Stalinist regime.  The book would become her financial ticket for the future, especially after she falls in love with Brajesh Singh, an Indian raj who was chronically ill.  They would marry, and Svetlana’s desire to return his ashes to India after he died leads her to defect to the United States.  The author’s discussion of Svetlana’s defection to the United States after visiting India are fascinating.  The diplomatic machinations among the Indian, Italian, Swiss and US governments reflect the political dynamite she represented visa vie the Soviet Union.  The work of George Kennan, the esteemed American diplomat and historian, who oversaw Svetlana’s life for decades is accurately described as he locates a publisher for her work and deals with the fallout from her defection and the complexity of her plight.  Sullivan’s analysis of Svetlana’s psyche are credible as she describes all aspects of her journey from abandonment of her family in Russia, to her settlement in the United States , and the Soviet campaign to defame her as a capitalist who was playing on her father’s name to become rich.

(Svetlana speaks to reporters in New York in 1967, not long after her defection)

Svetlana’s journey throughout this period was rife with emotional and financial failure as she had no clue how to manage her life.  This inability to control herself would lead to numerous personal disasters that make the reader feel a great deal of pity for Svetlana.  Sullivan’s descriptions of Svetlana’s many love affairs from the prism of her constant anxieties and fear of loneliness is eye opening.  She examines each love affair whether with the Princeton historian Louis Fischer or her four husbands and their impact on her personality and self-worth.  The most devastating relationship was her marriage to William Wendell Peters, an architect who was tied to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation at Taliesan located in Arizona, a communal situation controlled by a cult leader, Olgivanna Wright, the famed architect’s wife.  Svetlana’s marriage would result in financial ruin, a daughter, Olga, and divorce.  Svetlana’s life after Peters was dominated by how to raise her daughter which contributed to her wanderings that would eventually lead her to England, a return to the Soviet Union, back to England, and eventually the US.

Throughout the book the image of her father seems to dominate.  The author’s discussion of Svetlana’s second book ONLY ONE YEAR encapsulates her situation as she continued her struggle to maintain her reputation against Soviet attacks.  The book is more than a recapitulation of her voyage from India to the US.  She revisits her past as she excoriates her father’s actions and makes the argument that her father was solely responsible for events.  She lays part of the blame with those who cooperated without whom the events of the 1930s could not have occurred.  She commits the blasphemy in Soviet Communist Party eyes of linking her father’s behavior with Lenin, who she argues created the atmosphere for Stalin’s crimes to be carried out.  It is interesting to witness how the Soviet government’s attitude toward Svetlana evolves throughout the 1980s and 1990s as Mikhail Gorbachev tried to implement glasnost and perestroika.  Even as leaders of the Soviet Union devote less and less attention to Svetlana’s situation over time, she remains paranoid about what they might do to her to the extent that when she is approaching the end of her life she wants to make sure that the Russian government cannot take advantage of her demise.

(Svetlana at a roadside near her home in Wisconsin a year before she died)

Sullivan describes a woman who is caught in a cycle of emotional disasters throughout her life as she tries to establish meaningful relationships.  Svetlana rebounds from one crisis to another as her confidence suffers from extreme highs and lows.  Her impulsive nature and naiveté born of a need to fill the emotional abyss that dates back to her mother’s suicide appears to the underlying psychic motivation of her erratic behavior.  For Svetlana setting the historical record straight concerning her life’s story came to dominate her life once her marriage to Peters collapsed. In the end Svetlana’s perceptive nature in dealing with Russian history is offered as she correctly warns the west of who Vladimir Putin really is and what he hoped to achieve.  From her viewpoint, a restoration of Russian power by appealing to Russian nationalism, a prediction made in the late nineties and early two thousands that has come to pass.  In the end Svetlana Alliliuyeva’s life can be seen as a tragedy born of events and personalities that she could neither control nor understand.  Sullivan has written an exceptional biography dealing with another victim of Joseph Stalin’s reign of terror, his own daughter.

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PALACE OF TREASON by Jason Matthews

Palace of Treason 

For those who enjoyed Jason Matthew’s first espionage thriller, RED SPARROW, his second venture in this genre is as exceptional as the first.  Matthews, a veteran of thirty three years in the CIA as a Chief of Station, a clandestine operative collecting national intelligence, a recruiter in many dangerous regions of the world, and many other roles has overcome the problem of following a successful first novel, with a second, PALACE OF TREASON, that in many ways is more interesting and presented in greater depth than the first.  Many of the characters of RED SPARROW reappear; Simon Benford, a CIA veteran who controls all counter intelligence operations; Nathaniel Nash, the CIA covert operative and his Chief of Station Tom Forsythe, and his deputy Marty Gable; Dominika Egorova, a Russian trained “sparrow,” one who excels in the martial and sexual arts, and is a synesthete, a talent that allows a person to see auras around a person’s head that “allow them to read their passion, treachery, fear or deception;” Alexei Zyuganov, the Chief of Russian Counter Intelligence, Department of Service Line KR, a psychotic sadist who is jealous of Egorova; and Vladimir Putin, who plays a much larger role in PALACE OF TREASON.

There are many new characters in Matthews’ latest effort and they enhance the plot line and evolve as principle players as the story unfolds.  We are presented with a new handler for Dominika, a rookie agent, Hannah Archer who is exceptional in her spy craft, but also becomes part of an interesting love triangle; and Yevgeny Pletnev, a deputy to Zyuganov who succumbs to the wiles of a red sparrow.  The novel begins with the recruitment of Parvis Jamshidi, an Iranian physicist and expert in centrifugal isotope separation.  Both the CIA and Russian SVR are interested in him and learn greater details of Iran’s nuclear program.  For Russia it is seen as an opportunity for Putin’s kleptocracy to assist the Iranian program as a means of getting back at the United States, and as a bonus siphon off millions of rubles from any transaction.  For the United States, a plan is instituted to sabotage a German W. Petrs seismic isolation floor that would cause a major explosion, thus setting back the Iranian goal of acquiring nuclear weapons by at least five years.  In developing this story, Matthews employs a major secondary plot involving a disgruntled CIA bureaucrat, Sebastian Angevine, an Assistant Deputy for Military Affairs who is passed over for a major promotion, who believes in a lifestyle that his government salary will not support.  Angevine takes the initiative in becoming TRITON, a Russian operative who is a threat to the Iranian operation and Dominika, who is imbedded inside the Kremlin as an American agent.

Matthews’ expertise in spy craft is without question.  His details of surveillance and counter surveillance techniques are remarkable in their intricacy and realism.  Through the experiences of Hannah Archer, Matthews provides an amazing description of how an operative is trained in surveillance techniques that no other author has attempted.  The reader feels as if they are in the “cross hairs” of an operative trying to remain “black” and away from their pursuers. He takes the reader through the streets of Moscow, Washington, and Athens as operatives try to meet and practice their tradecraft. Through the eyes of Sebastien Angevine we see an individual on the “inside” of the CIA try to develop a strategy to offer themselves to Moscow.  Angevine, a former NCIS polygrapher is fully cognizant of the approaches made by Pollard, Ames, Hanssen, and Walker, and how they became sloppy and were exposed.  He develops sophisticated techniques to avoid their mistakes and will become a very effective mole.  An underlying theme that Matthews pursues is the evolution of CIA and SVR espionage practices.  Especially interesting are the changes in interrogation techniques employed by the Russian SVR as compared to old KGB practices.  Matthews provides details of how the new SVR goes about its craft, and contrasts it with KGB methods.  The reader is provided a unique window into spy tradecraft as it has changed from a lesser technological Cold War era, to the enhanced technological sophistication of today.  The “Putinization” of Russian intelligence is very clear, as all operatives fear making a mistake that could embarrass the Russian President and the consequences for their careers and probably their lives.

If you think you might be interested in a novel that presents chilling scenes that feature a psychotic torturer/executioner and his protégé, two agents deeply in love separated by the deep cover of their respective intelligence services, a megalomaniac who is hell bent in restoring his nation to the preeminent position it held over two decades ago, bureaucratic incompetence at its worst, modern spy craft and the application of its many techniques, and a well written and well thought plot, then PALACE OF TREASON is for you.  The narrative will keep you interested until the last paragraph and I won’t let you in on the ending, but parts of it may not be that farfetched.

RED SPARROW by Jason Matthews

Red Sparrow: A Novel

If you were going to create the proto-type writer of espionage thrillers you would want someone with experience in the art of spy craft.  Someone who had engaged in clandestine collection of national security intelligence, who recruited operatives in the Soviet Union, Middle East, and East Asia.  You would want a person who had been a CIA Station Chief, managed covert operations, and worked with American allies in counter terrorism over a career that spanned thirty three years.  A person with this type of background who was also a proficient writer would be heaven sent for espionage novel aficionados.  It is our good fortune to have such a person in Jason Matthews, whose first novel, RED SPARROW fits all the criteria of a superb thriller that keeps the reader fully engaged from cover to cover.

The story line in Matthews’ novel centers on a Russian spy master who is the Chief of the America’s Department in the SVR, or clandestine service.  This individual, code named MARBLE has been in the employ of the CIA for over fourteen years and is indispensable for American national security.  His handler, a young agent, Nathaniel Nash is forced to leave Moscow because of a bumbling CIA Chief of Station and winds up in Helsinki where the story unfolds as a “red sparrow,” a Russian trained agent in the sexual arts, as well as intelligence, is assigned to develop a relationship with Nash in order to learn the identity of MARBLE.  From this point on the plot revolves around the relationship between Nash and Dominika, the “red sparrow.”  Further it is intertwined with Russian attempts to uncover the mole in their intelligence service that is also complicated by a sociopathic and self-absorbed American senator who is Vice Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence who happens to be working for Moscow.  Perhaps the most fascinating part of the book is Matthews’ rendition of how Nash and Dominika try and recruit each other by applying their American and Russian training.  The author focuses on their belief system and doubts, and candidly explains how they affect the operational assignments.  Their relationship will form a major component of the plot, but it is only part of a larger more complex web that the author creates.

The dialogue between characters provides a wonderful vehicle for Matthews to present his own biases that date back to his intelligence career.  The infighting and lack of cooperation between the FBI and CIA is apparent and will lead to a botched scenario that comes very close to ruining a very promising CIA operation.  Not to be outdone, within the Russian intelligence apparatus we witness a great deal of careerism by important characters and the conflict between the old Cold War KGB methodology and the more modern technocratic approach that the SVR tries to employ.  Matthews is not very objective when it comes to the CIA, but to his credit he does an exceptional job discussing the “turf wars” that exist in the bureaucratic structure of intelligence.  He also weaves dead drops, honey traps, trunk escapes, surveillance tactics, and a myriad of other scenarios that one would expect in a spy novel with this type of storyline.

What separates Matthews from other practitioners of the espionage genre is an exceptional ear for dialogue and his quick wit.  He is able to develop an interesting array of characters from American Chiefs of Station of varying abilities, to a former KGB executioner who honed his skills in Afghanistan now carrying out his craft for the SVR, to Russian bureaucrats who want to please Vladimir Putin, who also makes a few guest appearances. In addition, Matthews integrates many retired agents in their seventies and eighties to conduct their tradecraft as they blend in so easily into the background to the point that Russian operatives have no idea that they have been made.  If you are a fan of Charles Cummings, Olin Steinhauer, Tom Rob Smith, Robert Littell, or Len Deighton you should enjoy RED SPARROW.  For a first novel, Matthews has done a wonderful job and has peaked my curiosity as the ending of the book leaves the reader longing for the story to continue.  Thankfully, his second effort, PALACE OF TREASON was published last week

THE GAME: INSIDE THE SECRET WORLD OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL’S POWER BROKERS by Jon Pessah

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(Miller Park, Milwaukee, WI; the monument to Bud Selig’s rule as Commissioner of Baseball)

When I picked up a copy of THE GAME: INSIDE THE SECRET WORLD OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL’S POWER BROKERS by Jon Pessah I expected an exploration of the world of baseball between 1992 and 2010 from financial and labor perspectives.  What I read encompasses those general themes, but the book also evolved into a prolonged discussion of Bud Selig and George Steinbrenner’s roles in baseball during that time period, and bringing with it an excellent reporter’s knowledge of baseball and the personalities involved. I soon developed an intense distaste for Selig, who was the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers and the “acting” commissioner of baseball at the same time, a direct conflict of interest; and a greater understanding of Steinbrenner, and a degree of empathy for his at times, outrageous behavior.

The year 1992 can be considered a “watershed” year in the history of major league baseball.  The owners were at war with each other, the owners were also at war with the players through their labor union, and the steroid era was just emerging.  Pessah raises the question; did Bud Selig save baseball, as the former Commissioner of Baseball would like everyone to believe.  After reading Pessah’s account I agree with his conclusions that Selig did more to hurt the game he supposedly loved, and his actions were driven by his own selfish agenda and led to some of the most hypocritical actions and statements that I have ever been exposed to.  Bud Selig has one belief, what is best for Bud Selig.  When it came to his role as owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, that belief centered on improving the value of his franchise no matter who he hurt or used by reorienting baseball’s financial structure to meet his needs.

(Bud Selig, Former Commissioner of Baseball)

Unhappy with the settlement with the players union in 1990 because of what he perceived to be the actions of then Baseball Commissioner Faye Vincent, Selig worked assiduously to have him removed and have himself appointed as “acting” commissioner.  Once this was achieved Selig would be in charge of negotiating a new contract with his adversary, Donald Fehr, the head of the players union.  The Brewers team debt stood at $35 million in 1990 and throughout the period it would quadruple, if not more.  For Selig, a new stadium was needed to replace the antiquated Milwaukee County Stadium to help pay down his debt.  The problem was who would finance the cost of this project.  As Pessah’s research will prove Selig would blackmail localities into having public funding for stadiums or they could lose their teams to franchise relocation or contraction (having the league fold their franchises).   Selig was envious of large market teams with extensive resources because of cable television contracts and other marketing advantages, as a result he sought to pillage those teams through revenue sharing, a salary cap, and possibly, a luxury tax.  His target was George Steinbrenner’s New York Yankees and a few other franchises.  What was most disingenuous, is that when revenue sharing was eventually implemented, many of the small market teams took the millions of dollars they received, supposedly designated for player development and procurement to make their teams more competitive, and devoted the money to their own profits.  In Selig’s case he paid down his debt, and at the same time reduced his payroll.  In the case of billionaire owner, Carl Polhand of the Minnesota Twins, he just pocketed the money.

(George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees)

The first part of the book analyzes the steps that led to the cancelling of the last month of the 1994 baseball season and the World Series.  In meticulous fashion Pessah describes the positions of the owners and the player’s union.  What seems abundantly clear is no matter how many times Selig downplayed the idea that the owners wanted a strike, the evidence reflects the opposite.  After Selig arranged his coup against Vincent, he also engineered a change in baseball’s voting structure to allow small market teams like the Brewers to veto any settlement with the players they did not like.  Pessah places the onus of the strike and the possible use of replacement players on Selig and his supporters, and less so on the player’s union head, Donald Fehr.  Along the way the author integrates the story of Don Mattingly, the Yankee first basement who had never been to the post season and whose body was slowly giving way to father time.  When Selig ended the season, the Yankees were in first place and were on the road to a possible World Series appearance for the first time since 1981, and it seemed Mattingly’s last chance may have been passed by.  Pessah explores Steinbrenner and other owner’s roles as well as Fehr and the union in intricate detail.  What one concludes as a settlement is finally reached is that Selig is correct that financial changes needed to be implemented, but other issues facing baseball, like steroids were ignored because for Selig “the homeruns” that resulted from the use of steroids were good for baseball’s bottom line.  As a result he and the owners turned a blind eye to the problem.

Selig’s methods are a major focus of the book.  How he arranges for the Montreal Expos to be purchased by Major League Baseball for $120 million and its sale for over $400 million to a group that moves it to Washington, DC is priceless.  Further, his manipulation of the Florida Marlins situation reflects his duplicitousness as he arranges for the former owner of the Expos, Jeffrey Loria to buy the Marlins when he cannot really affords to do so.  Another example is how Selig arranges for John Henry to purchase the Boston Red Sox who he hopes will create a small market mentality more to his liking in Beantown.  Selig did not overlook the needs of his own team, managed by his daughter Wendy while he was commissioner, a team that was $148.7 million in debt.  Amazingly, by the 2007 baseball season that debt has been reduced to $30 million.  Eventually Selig would sell the Brewers for $200 million based on revenue sharing and Miller Park, the stadium that was publicly financed by the residents of Milwaukee.  In addition, by 2009 Selig earned a salary of $18 million a year, and by his retirement year he had a net worth of over $200 million, not including the $35-40 million he will collect from baseball as a Commissioner Emeritus, not bad for an owner of a small market team that at one time was hemorrhaging from debt.

(Donald Fehr, Head of the Major League Baseball Players Union who fought Selig’s hypocracy for years)

Pessah’s narrative includes a discussion of events taking place outside of baseball, and Congress is a major candidate for his sarcasm.  Different Congressional committees and their politicians will use labor issues and the steroid epidemic throughout the period under discussion, grandstanding about the national pastime and making threats to take away baseball’s anti-trust exemption.   At the same time they avoid dealing with issues relating to Hurricane Katrina, the lack of proper body armor for US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the crisis over Abu Ghraib, and numerous other issues.  It seems reasonable to assume that the money that the owners are donating to Congressional campaigns bears fruit.  The reader is provided transcripts of Congressional hearings, National Labor Relations Board decisions, intimate conversations among owners, as well as the inner workings of the union.  These details are enlightening as we learn of Yankee General Manager, Brian Cashman’s distaste for the arrogance he sees in Joe Torre, George W. Bush’s hope to be Commissioner of Baseball, the inner workings of the Steinbrenner family, and many other interesting items.  I assume that Pessah has worked his sources well and he is presenting an accurate account, however, a degree of footnoting might assuage my historian’s sensitivities, though I compliment him on his excellent bibliography and the names of those interviewed.

(Baseball’s steroid greats, from left to right: Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, and Barry Bonds)

The narrative makes for an excellent read for baseball fans and the public in general who lived through the events and relationships described.  Pessah spares nothing in discussing the BALCO scandal and Barry Bonds, the Mitchell Commission and Report that Selig created to help clear his own guilt about how he handled, or better, did not handle the growing steroid scandal in baseball.  The “bash brothers,” Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, and many others make their appearances as authors or witnesses before Congressional committees.  Perhaps the most important aspect of the book reflects the human frailties of all involved as the reader is taken from one contract negotiation to the next, in addition to each scandal or blight on baseball’s reputation.  Pessah’s account is almost encyclopedic as his subject matter evolves over two decades.  It seems to me as an avid baseball fan he does not miss much and to his credit, his honesty in reporting is a highlight that readers should cherish.  THE GAME is more than a baseball book, it is a story of greed, power, and manipulation that in many instances gives our nation’s pastime a black eye.  But as most baseball fans realize once spring training arrives after a long winter, they are willing to forgive and forget the actions of the likes of Bud Selig.