Book Blurbs

May/June 1998

Reading time min

Book Blurbs

Sports, Jobs, & Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums, Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist, editors, Brookings Institution Press, 1997; $22.95 (urban economics).

Over the next nine years, some $7 billion will be spent on stadiums and other facilities for professional sports teams, according to Noll, the Morris M. Doyle Centennial Professor of Public Policy, and Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College. The 15 essays in this collection include case studies from Cincinnati, Baltimore and San Francisco. Co-authors of three of the essays, Noll and Zimbalist calculate the average subsidy from a host city to its sports team at $10 million a year. They don't mind taxpayers footing so much of the bill--but they dispute claims that ever-better ballparks are a boon to the local economy.

Old MetSign-off for the Old Met: The Metropolitan Opera Broadcasts, 1950-1966, Paul Jackson, PhD '67, Amadeus Press, 1997; $49.95 (music).

Live Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts of Metropolitan Opera performances began in 1931. Sponsored by Texaco, the show became an institution, offering countless listeners their first exposure to the world of opera. New York's original Met was razed in 1966, but the venerable broadcast carries on from the new Lincoln Center. Jackson's 660-page chronicle, a sequel to his 1992 volume covering 1931-1950, is partly a retrospective of 200 performances. Dean emeritus at Drake University, Jackson writes critiques that are frank but good-humored, whether tut-tutting over a tenor's "quaint bleat" or applauding a diva's "ironclad top tones." The book and its 100-plus photographs also recreate the controversial management of Rudolf Bing: the hirings and firings and legendary feuds with such singers as Maria Callas and with the broadcast's producers.

Right MindThe Right Mind: Making Sense of the Hemispheres, Robert Ornstein, PhD '68, Harcourt Brace & Co., 1997; $22 (psychology).

Twenty-six years ago, Ornstein's best-seller The Psychology of Consciousness unleashed a flood of interest in the specialized functions of the two sides of the brain. The left side was supposed to be strictly rational. The right was thought to possess untapped power for creativity. In this new book, the Los Altos psychologist revisits the subject and finds that many of the early discoveries he reported have been exaggerated, misinterpreted and misapplied. Improved brain-scanning techniques and more recent studies on people with damaged brains have led to new findings. It turns out, for example, that the right hemisphere plays a previously unknown role in language. Ornstein concludes that the right side is the key to "developing the overall meaning of life's situations: the large view, or a higher organization of events."

TravelsTravels Along the Edge: 40 Ultimate Adventures for the Modern Nomad, David Noland, '68, MA '69, Vintage Departures, 1997, $14 (travel).

"Adventure is a personal matter," Noland writes in his introduction. It is also apparently a matter of business. An estimated 15 million Americans spent roughly $8 billion on adventure travel in 1996. Noland writes about adventure trips, ranging from a trek through the jungle in search of the Yanomamo Indians of Venezuela to an exhausting horseback ride across the bleak vastness of Genghis Khan's Mongolia to a walk across England, where the greatest danger is impalement "or what have you" on the occasional barbed-wire fence. He has rated the trips from one to five: One represents "couch potatoes welcome," and five is an in-your-face "if you have to ask, you probably can't do it." With practical advice on tour companies and recommended reading at the end of each chapter, Noland seems to have all his "what-have-yous" covered.

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