skygiants: Sokka from Avatar: the Last Airbender peers through an eyeglass (*peers*)
[personal profile] skygiants
A few months back, I discovered this in a used bookstore and ended up taking it home:



And this week seemed like a good time to experience the Cold War's Special Baseball Episode, so here we are.

A Pennant for the Kremlin is an extremely serious alternate history (written in 1964) in which an American millionaire decides to leave all his assets to the Soviet Union in an effort to cultivate world peace before unexpectedly keeling over dead. His assets include about ten major hotels, plus the Chicago White Sox.

The Soviets generously decide to give the hotels to the workers!, but decide to hang onto the White Sox for reasons of plot necessity, and send over a couple of Russians out of Central Casting to take over the management:

1) the malevolent career bureaucrat who sees everything as an Insult to the Party!
2) the sweet, gently comical one whose Job Is To Understand Baseball and, by taking his job very seriously, learns to love the sport for its own sake! AND IS BELOVED BY IT IN RETURN
3) the sweet one's beautiful daughter, who's just excited for the opportunity to go shopping for pretty dresses!

The sweet one bonds with the team's manager and flirts with the eccentric millionaire's spinster secretary; the beautiful daughter falls for the wildly anti-Communist baseball player, who Learns an Important Lesson that Soviets Are People Too (or at least attractive young Soviet women with a maximum of wide-eyed innocence and a minimum of Party ideals); and the malevolent one attempts various schemes For The Greater Glory Of The Soviet Union, much to the chagrin of our aw-shucks all-American baseball players, who just want the opportunity to chuck a good old American baseball without being buffeted by copies of the Daily Worker. The spinster secretary trips all around Chicago asking innocently for portraits of Lenin in order to make her new guests feel at home; the sweet Russian becomes an unexpectedly popular national celebrity when he gives all the players incentive bonuses, but forbids them from using their images to shill for Big Tobacco - think of the children! they should be ashamed of themselves! At one point, the Soviet agenda at a U.N. meeting is completely derailed while every representative takes their turn to wax rhapsodic about the signature sport of their home country. Baseball: it's transformative!

In the end, tragically, the White Sox win neither the World Series nor World Peace, but all the sympathetic Soviets get to stay in the U S of A, so I guess it's all right for some. The fellow who wrote the score for How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying could probably make a heck of a mildly embarrassing musical out of it.
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skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (Default)
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