If ever there were cause for baseball's rebound in the public consciousness, it was last fall's performance by the Boston Red Sox, who miraculously defeated the dreaded New York Yankees on their way to their first world championship since 1918. New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro's Emperors and Idiots: The Hundred-Year Rivalry Between the Yankees and Red Sox, From the Very Beginning to the End of the Curse is an eminently readable history of the combative Yankees-Red Sox relationship, from the turn of the 20th century (back when they were the Highlanders and Pilgrims, respectively) through the recent era, with special focus on the infamous 1920 trade that brought Babe Ruth from the Sox to the Yankees and supposedly initiated more than 80 years of jinxed Boston baseball. Vaccaro's narrative highlights the dominance of Yankee dynasties (Ruth/Gehrig, Mantle/Maris, Jackson/Munson, etc.), pits Joe DiMaggio's uncanny winning ways vs. Ted Williams' endless disappointments and details the Sox's heartbreaking postseason collapses. Inexorably, the book winds down to October 2004, when at last the Red Sox broke the Yankee spell and thrilled their many devoted, long-suffering loyalists.

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