Baseball, blackmail, Spanish Influenza, political conflict, the Boston police strike of 1919. None of these are topics I would normally choose to spend my time with.
Then, about 250 pages in, I noticed I'd become attached to Lehane's characters, their compassion for others and their hope for a better world, and I mostly enjoyed the remainder of the book. Bolsheviks and all.
While I am still a bit baffled by the occasional appearance of Babe Ruth, and the use of a few cliches that I attribute more to the modern day than to the actual setting, overall The Given Day was a well written, fascinating look at the people and events of Boston in the early 1900's.
"'An intelligent child born to less than advantageous surroundings, Luther, learns to charm.' He reached across the desk; his fingers twirled trough the smoke. 'He learns to hide behind that charm so that no one ever sees what he's really thinking. Or feeling.'
He went to a decanter behind his desk and poured two helpings of amber liquid in to crystal scotch glasses. He brought the drinks around the desk and handed one to Luther, the first time Luther'd ever been handed a glass by a white man."
"Thomas couldn't help but feel a great swell of pride as he watched his son on that podium. Danny, as Thomas had always know he would, had found his place in the world as a leader of men. It just wasn't the battleground Thomas would've chosen for him.
'They don't want to pay us,' Danny said. 'They don't want to feed our families. They don't want us to be able to provide reasonable shelter or education for our children. and when we complain? do they treat us like men? No. they start a whisper campaign to paint us as communists and subversives. they scare the public into thinking we'll strike so that if it ever does come to that, they can say, 'We told you so.' They ask us to bleed for them, gentlemen, and when we do so, they give us penny bandages and dock our pay a nickel.'"
Dennis Lehane Takes a Detour (USA Today)