Title: "Love Lost: A True Story of Passion, Murder, and...

BOOK BRIEFS

July 03, 1994|By DIANE SCHARPER Title: "The Curse of Rocky Colavito" Author: Terry Pluto Publisher: Simon & Schuster Length, price: 299 pages, $22.50 | DIANE SCHARPER Title: "The Curse of Rocky Colavito" Author: Terry Pluto Publisher: Simon & Schuster Length, price: 299 pages, $22.50,LOS ANGELES TIMES

Title: "Love Lost: A True Story of Passion, Murder, and Justice in Old New York"

Author: George Cooper

Publisher: Pantheon

Length, price: 272 pages, $23 Albert Richardson, writer and correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune, was 36 years old when he died Dec. 2, 1869. His wife, the beautiful actress Abby Sage McFarland Richardson, was 35. They had married 60 hours earlier. Dying of a bullet wound, Albert had asked Abby to marry him, so that she might legally rear his three orphaned children with her own children. In "Lost Love," George Cooper discusses the events surrounding this celebrated love affair.

Using letters, court testimony and articles found in newspapers and journals, Mr. Cooper, a former professor of law at Columbia University and a Baltimore native, tells an absorbing story.

It began Nov. 25, 1869, when Daniel McFarland, Abby's former husband, shot her lover, Albert, in the stomach. The bullet would soon end his life, and begin the McFarland-Richardson trial that dominated newspaper headlines in 1869 and 1870. The trial would raise questions concerning the sanctity of marriage, the rights of women and the rights of victims, and ultimately question the fairness of the legal system. What baseball fan could begrudge the Cleveland Indians the success they seem on the verge of attaining this year? Especially after reading this affectionate and personal account by Akron Beacon Journal sports columnist Terry Pluto of the team's three-decade-plus slump.

Slump? Beginning with 1960's ill-advised trade of slugger Rocky Colavito for singles hitter Harvey Kuenn and, extending through a boating accident during spring training 1993 that left two pitchers dead and a third seriously injured, the Indians' story has been one of bad luck, bad timing, bad judgment and just plain bad baseball.

Heck, this is a team forced to trade a young Dennis Eckersley, who will probably end up in the Hall of Fame someday, because his wife had fallen in love with his best friend and teammate, Rick Manning.

Mr. Pluto, a former Sun baseball writer, has a breezy style that makes for easy reading, and his book has a poignancy no baseball fan should have trouble understanding. If nothing else, it puts any problem the Orioles may have in proper perspective.

CHRIS KALTENBACH

N Title: "Speaking of Washington: Facts, Firsts and Folklore"

Author: John L. Moore

Publisher: Congressional Quarterly

Length, price: 307 pages, $26.95

How does it work, this cumbersome government of ours? How did it evolve from a handful of brilliant, dedicated men playing it by ear to a Congress that had to create five regulatory agencies just to deal with the consequences of bank de-regulation? Or, symbolically, from a White House with no plumbing (John and Abigail, the original Adams family, used an outhouse) to an executive mansion with 32 bathrooms and a staff of 97, including five calligraphers?

In a book at once amusing and informative, John Moore, who lives in Severna Park, takes us on a quick-step tour down the boulevards and back alleys of our heritage. Along with Teapot Dome, Watergate and the folly of the PAC, we're treated to a variety of factoids we never knew or have long forgotten.

Along with the difference between civil rights and civil liberties, between Mugwumps and Whigs, there are answers to questions we never dreamed of asking: What were the White House "petticoat wars"? Which first lady was called "Lemonade Lucy" and why? Who was "His Rotundity"? Why is there still an electoral college? Finally, a timeless bon mot from Sen. Simon Cameron, R-Pa.: "An honest politician is one who, once he is bought, stays bought."

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