Cover image for Defending Baltimore against enemy attack : a boyhood year during World War II
Defending Baltimore against enemy attack : a boyhood year during World War II
Osgood, Charles.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hyperion, [2004]

Physical Description:
139 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D811.5 .O75 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
D811.5 .O75 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The year is 1942, and while America is reeling from the first blows of WWII, Osgood is just a nine-year-old boy living in Baltimore. As the war rages somewhere far beyond the boundaries of his hometown, he spends his days delivering newspapers, riding the trolley to the local amusement park, going to Orioles' baseball games, and goofing around with his younger sister.

With a sharp eye for details, Osgood captures the texture of life in a very different era, a time before the polio vaccine and the atomic bomb. In his neighborhood of Liberty Heights, gaslights still glowed on every corner, milkmen delivered bottles of milk, and a loaf of bread cost nine cents.

Osgood reminisces about his first fist-fight with a kid from the neighborhood, his childhood crush on a girl named Sue, and his relationship with his father, a traveling salesman. He also talks about his early love for radio and how he used to huddle under the covers after his parents had turned off the lights, listening to Superman, The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, and, of course, to baseball games.

Defending Baltimore Against Enemy Attack is a gloriously funny and nostalgic slice of American life and a moving look at World War II from the perspective of a child far away from the fighting, but very conscious of the reverberations.

Author Notes

Charles Osgood writes and anchors The Osgood File four times daily over the CBS radio network and anchors CBS television's Sunday Morning every week. He is the winner of two Emmys and three Peabody Awards; Washington Journalism Review named him "Best in the Business" five years running; and in 1990 he was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters' Broadcasting Hall of Fame. He lives in New Jersey.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

For a nine-year-old boy living in Baltimore, 1942 was as memorable for the childhood mischief of plaguing the nuns at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic school and making stink bombs for national defense as theapanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Conceding the tendency to sugarcoat childhood memories, Osgood renders sharp details of a life he insists was actually simpler and sweeter, even with the threat of war. In contrast to the arranged play dates of today's children, Osgood remembers walking out the front door and gathering other children for an impromptu baseball game. Radio figured prominently in childhood entertainment and imagination, leaving its mark on a boy who would later make a career in both television and radio. Osgood recalls listening to favorites Captain Midnight, Dick Tracy,0 and Superman.0 The beloved Baltimore Orioles and a local amusement park expanded the fun beyond his neighborhood of Liberty Heights. Osgood also recalls the underlying menace of blackout shades and air raid sirens, the sense of unity and duty in the neighborhood victory gardens, and collecting scrap metal and old newspapers to help the war effort. A warm, humorous look at the nation at war from a boy's perspective. --Vanessa Bush Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Osgood's memoir of growing up in Baltimore's Liberty Heights neighborhood circa 1942 echoes with the same measured cadence and disarmingly simple structure that the anchor uses in his CBS radio and TV broadcasts. The Emmy Award-winning broadcaster pulls readers into a seductive world, as he relates his obsession with baseball, his love of radio programs (which had a "profound influence" on him) and his experiences with other slices of Americana. Yet the war news affected Osgood, too, if in a minor way: he built a stink bomb with a friend ("weapons of mass disgust to waft at the enemy"), pinned a tiny Japanese flag over Manila on the map mounted on his bedroom wall and wondered "just how much of Africa needed liberating." His reminiscences are a basic nostalgic archetype, where plucky kids, strong families and sunny optimism are the order of the day, compared with Osgood's version of today's world, where ill-educated and pessimistic masses throng America's streets. The author talks about how, as a child aged eight to 12, he simply wanted to make people happy, imagining that if he were a child today, he'd be sent to a psychiatrist for such behavior. The golden-hued streets of Osgood's Liberty Heights are a bona fide paradise, drenched with more nostalgia than even Barry Levinson could offer, without a shred of acknowledgment of memory's distortion of events over time. Photos not seen by PW. Agent, Bill Adler. (May) Forecast: Father's Day promos, an author tour and inevitable plugs on the radio will boost sales to baby boomers and their parents. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved