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The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of…
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The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood

by Jane Leavy

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The Mick - a boyhood hero, a remarkable baseball player and a very deeply flawed man. One of the greats on the field and a skunk in most of the rest of his life. Definitely the Last Boy but Leavy hardly made the case for "the End of America's Childhood," whatever that might be. ( )
  namfos | Jul 24, 2013 |
Mickey Mantle was pretty much the idol of every boy who grew up in the 50s and 60s. We all wanted to be him. Now we find out that he really was just a lecherous jerk who could have been the best baseball player of all time had he taken care of himself and not had a number of unfortunate injuries.

This book is well written. I just don't like the Mickey Mantle that it portrays. Leavy is not writing a hatchet job. None of this is new. Still, it is all collected in one place.

"The Last Boy"? No. Really just a continuation of a long line of jerks in the world. ( )
  dougbq | Jul 20, 2013 |
One of the first books I remember reading was a kid's biography of Mickey Mantle, probably written in the late 1950s. The Dodgers and Giants had left New York, and the Yankees were for a few years the only game in town. My father stuck with Duke Snider and the Dodgers, but I switched to the Yankees. I mostly identified with Yogi Berra, perhaps because he was Italian-American and read comic books like me, but what boy who loved baseball didn't admire Mickey Mantle in those days? I remember sitting in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium so I could watch him play center (Yogi was in left field). Who knew all the pain he played through in those days? Until I read this book, I didn't realize how excruciating his emotional pain must have been, more so than the hurting knee and shoulder, or how much pain he inflicted on his wife and children. This is a shocking book, and a complex one. If you value your idols, maybe you should pass it by. If you want to understand an iconic athlete as a human being, read it, it's a masterpiece. ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
Over the years there have been numerous bios written about The Mick. This is the best. Revisiting her April 1983 interview with The Mick throughout the bio makes this venture much more interesting. Leavy departed from the traditional biography by telling Mantle's life story by looking at 21 days in his life that were important. She even revisits the eternal question as to who was best, Willie, Mickey, or The Duke. At one point later on in their lives, the three center field greats are together. Mickey is talking as says that he and Duke don't have any problems being second to Willie. Modern day statisticians look at the careers of The Mick and Willie and give Mick the edge by just a few points. Yes, Mickey Mantle was one of the greatest center fielders and baseball players of the modern era, but since I grew up watching Willie Mays play, in my mind, he's the greatest! ( )
  landlocked54 | Nov 26, 2012 |
Terribly sad story of Mantle's misguided life and the reasons for it. Jane Leavy returns with a biography of an American original—number 7, Mickey Mantle. Drawing on more than 500 interviews with friends and family, teammates, and opponents, she delivers the definitive account of Mantle's life, mining the mythology of The Mick for the true story of a luminous and illustrious talent with an achingly damaged soul. Meticulously reported and elegantly written, The Last Boy is a baseball tapestry that weaves together episodes from the author's weekend with The Mick in Atlantic City, where she interviewed her hero in 1983, after he was banned from baseball, with reminiscences from friends and family of the boy from Commerce, Oklahoma, who would lead the Yankees to seven world championships, be voted the American League's Most Valuable Player three times, win the Triple Crown in 1956, and duel teammate Roger Maris for Babe Ruth's home run crown in the summer of 1961—the same boy who would never grow up.
As she did so memorably in her biography of Sandy Koufax, Jane Leavy transcends the hyperbole of hero worship to reveal the man behind the coast-to-coast smile, who grappled with a wrenching childhood, crippling injuries, and a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. In The Last Boy she chronicles her search to find out more about the person he was and, given what she discovers, to explain his mystifying hold on a generation of baseball fans, who were seduced by that lopsided, gap-toothed grin. It is an uncommon biography, with literary overtones: not only a portrait of an icon, but an investigation of memory itself. How long was the Tape Measure Home Run? Did Mantle swing the same way right-handed and left-handed? What really happened to his knee in the 1951 World Series? What happened to the red-haired, freckle-faced boy known back home as Mickey Charles?
"I believe in memory, not memorabilia," Leavy writes in her preface. But in The Last Boy, she discovers that what we remember of our heroes—and even what they remember of themselves—is only where the story begins. ( )
  bogopea | Feb 6, 2012 |
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Drawing on more than five hundred interviews with loved ones and fellow baseball players, the author crafts a deeply personal biography of the Yankee great, weaving her own memories of the major league slugger with an authoritative account of his life on and off the field.… (more)

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