Breaking Ground Reviewed By Tom Pope of Bookpleasures.com

When author Alan Lelchuk relates his father’s conversion of being a Russian immigrant to the new experience of embracing America’s sport of baseball, Lelchuk shows the impact on the Brooklyn community by Jackie Robinson’s heroics on the basepaths. Lelchuk’s nonfiction appraisal from the book Breaking Ground bears the sub-title of, How Jackie Robinson Changed Brooklyn. The author deals with blending Robinson’s emergence into a white sport, with the way the nation deals with discrimination, to the changes in the Brooklyn community.

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Review of Breaking Ground on Foreword Reviews

Lelchuk grew up in Brooklyn, the son of immigrants in the post-WWII era, and had a firsthand view of Jackie Robinson’s rise as a baseball player, a public icon, and a voice for equality. As a child, Lelchuck was starstruck by Robinson, but the book extols rather than deifies. It shows Robinson as a folk legend, as seen through the eyes of a young boy, but also as a man whose legacy is backed up by historical data. Lelchuk sets the bar high for Robinson’s impact—“Robinson did something for and through baseball that no other great player had ever done”—but he calmly proves every bold statement through his narrative research. The book is broken into two parts: “The Brooklyn Project,” covering Robinson’s years as a player, and “Jackie’s Voice,” showing his lasting legacy. While Lelchuk is not necessarily attempting to drum up enthusiasm for Robinson as a person and a player, he does just that through his childlike excitement and his compelling research. Many are familiar with Robinson’s baseball career and cultural impact, but Lelchuk gives insight into the hope Robinson brought specifically to Brooklyn, and particularly to its immigrant families..

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Sports Book Guy's Review of "Breaking Ground"

While not billed as a baseball book per se, the baseball passages are written well and from the point of view of a fan. Of course, all the baseball involves Robinson in some manner but that doesn’t matter. Because of the special skills Robinson brought to the baseball field, such as his speed, and the excitement rarely seen such as a steal of home plate, the baseball talk is very good. If a person just wanted to talk about Robinson with Lelchuk, these passages are very likely what he would tell that person..

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Brooklyn Book Ties Childhood With Jackie Robinson

First, it is an eyewitness memoir that captures in atmospheric detail the impact of Jackie’s very presence on Ebbets Field from the adoring eyes of a 9-year-old fan, who saw him play often. Second, it explains how Jackie’s special personality and play affected the borough of Brooklyn and changed it forever. Third, on a more personal level, “BREAKING GROUND” tells the story of how Jackie became an important figure inside the immigrant Lelchuk household, where a left-wing father, who had felt much hostility and estrangement from both America and his son, suddenly started to learn and understand the country of his son and of his own exile. “BREAKING GROUND” transports readers from the national baseball stage to the emergence of an iconic American city, from the throes and struggles of new immigrant family to a young boy’s deepest pleasures..

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