Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Louis Kaufman and Tom Sewell, both journalists, and Barbara Fitzgerald, a free-lance writer, open Moe Berg: Athlete, Scholar, Spy with an account of Berg’s 1934 trip to Japan with a team of major league baseball stars. Berg sneaked a motion-picture camera to the roof of a Tokyo hospital in order to photograph the panorama of the city. Eight years later, Berg’s film was used to help determine targets for American bombs. This mission was the first of several secret assignments that Berg undertook for the American government while playing baseball.

The following nine chapters present Berg’s life in chronological order, beginning with his childhood in Newark, New Jersey, as one of two sons of Jewish immigrant parents from the Ukraine. Obsessed with baseball from an early age, Berg gradually became equally fascinated by languages, leading to his studies at Princeton University and at the Sorbonne in Paris. His intellectual interests are presented as wide ranging, accounting for his acquisition of a law degree from Columbia University.

Berg accomplished the latter while playing professional baseball, a pursuit in which he was engaged from 1923 to 1939 for such teams as the Chicago White Sox and the Boston Red Sox. Kaufman, Fitzgerald, and Sewell consider Berg a potentially great player who settled for a secondary role as a substitute catcher following a serious knee injury early in his career. Berg nevertheless received considerable...

(The entire section is 460 words.)