The Batter’s Box ISBN: 9781944353230 Warriors Publishing Group Copyright and written by Andy Kutler.
This is a historical novel described by the author as “A novel of baseball, war and love”. The story portrays the life of a young Midwesterner who attains star status as a major league baseball player who, at the top of his game, enlists in WWII shortly after the U.S. entered the war. It follows his experiences as he participates in some of the most vicious hand-to-hand combat in the ‘Battle of the Bulge’ that took place in defense of Bastogne and returned to regain his former baseball status only to be plagued by mental problems that only now many years later finally have been properly titled PTSD. During his baseball days he had met and retained a most unusual relationship with a beautiful young woman married to an abusive husband. Their meetings were intermittent because although immensely attracted, he would not admit he had met someone he truly could love deeply. However, during dark periods during lulls between vicious bouts of bloody hand-to-hand fighting, memories of her were the only thing that kept him wanting to survive. He does survive and returns to again attain his position of prominence in baseball, although greatly changed from the ‘nice’ person he had been. Plagued by nightmares and with his new confrontational attitude so prominent, his manager insists upon his seeing a psychiatrist. Unwillingly he does and receives advice that he ignores until once again he meets the woman whose thoughts kept him alive during some of his most desperate periods of combat and the tale progresses through confusing months for the two actual soul-mates as they attempt to reach some ultimate mutually rewarding goal.
Discussion: The author has set forth one of the finest books on the features leading up to development of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) this reviewer ever has read. Descriptions so graphically depicted that it may cause unwanted thoughts/images to recur in veterans with similar experiences. The baseball details will bring back many remembrances for those readers old enough to have known these days and provide many details about the game and those playing it at the time for younger readers. The love story is most thoughtfully included and poignant at times.
5* Must read for anyone interested in “baseball, war and/or love”.