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John Adams & The Rookie

Johnny Jones, 16 January 2004

I like reviews from people I know. So I would like to share with you my "reviews" from the past year. The subjects are past being hot off the press, but you can buy the book in paperback, or used, or rent the video.

The best book I read last year was John Adams by David McCullough. I had been intending to read the biography of our second President for some time, especially since my sister said her husband was kin to the Adams family. It was one of those books I felt a duty to read.

When I finally bought the book to read on the plane, I was only a few pages into the story when I was hooked. The book was so well-written that it seemed more like a novel than a biography. I cried when Abigail died.

Both John and Abigail Adams were prolific writers, and part of the pleasure is the abundance of wonderful quotes. The book begins with a quote from Abigail: "We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them." Sounds like she's from Missouri instead of Massachusetts!

John Adams was consistently under-appreciated, outrageously criticized, extravagantly underpaid, and sometimes in danger for his life. He was separated from his beloved wife for years at a time, outlived most of his children, and often had to supplement his government salary (even as US President!) with income from his modest farm.

But he maintained is honor and his courage. And without his influence and his active engagement, it is clear that this country could not have come to be, nor could it have survived. John Adams sacrificed himself for his ideals of a new nation, "...conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." His love for this country was inspired by his obedience to God. He was a man of high integrity.

The book came out in 2001, with the paperback release in 2002.

I was also a couple years behind when we saw The Rookie on video, after seeing an interview with actor Dennis Quaid, who said that, of the movies he had made, this was his favorite. By the time I was exclaiming about it, my sister and her husband had not only seen it, but had met Jim Morris, whom Dennis Quaid played in the movie.

You already know the story, about a has-been baseball player coaching high school in a little Texas town after he blew out his arm pitching. The movie looked and felt "real" to me, from the older men playing checkers in the store to the inside of the Morris' home. Kids fussing. Crying. Messes. Less than perfect.

Jim Morris consulted, and was especially careful about how his team was portrayed. He didn't want the movie to disrespect "his" kids.  They tried to get it right.

I thought the movie was sweet without gooey sentimentality. It wasn't like one of those Christmas specials about snowmen and smiles and Santas, based on ideas that are based on ideas until all real meaning is lost.

No, The Rookie was full of meaning, full of life. Full of integrity.

So I guess that's what the book and the video had in common: People in extraordinary circumstances, humble but magnificent. About dreams, hope, and truth.

I like that.