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The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson

by Jeff Pearlman

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673393,325 (4.05)3
Biography & Autobiography. Sports & Recreations. Nonfiction. HTML:

By the New York Times bestselling author of Showtime‚??the source for HBO's Winning Time‚??the definitive biography of mythic multi-sport star Bo Jackson.

"A legendary tome on a legendary athlete." ‚??Chris Herring, author of Blood in the Garden

From the mid-1980s into the early 1990s, the greatest athlete of all time streaked across American sports and popular culture. Stadiums struggled to contain him. Clocks failed to capture his speed. His strength was legendary. His power unmatched. Video game makers turned him into an invincible character‚??and they were dead-on. He climbed (and walked across) walls, splintered baseball bats over his knee, turned oncoming tacklers into ground meat. He became the first person to simultaneously star in two major professional sports, and overtook Michael Jordan as America's most recognizable pitchman. He was on our televisions, in our magazines, plastered across billboards. He was half man, half myth.

Then, almost overnight, he was gone.

He was Bo Jackson.

Drawing on an astonishing 720 original interviews, New York Times bestselling sportswriter Jeff Pearlman captures as never before the elusive truth about Jackson, Auburn University's transcendent Heisman Trophy winner, superstar of both the NFL and Major League Baseball and ubiquitous "Bo Knows" Nike pitchman. Did Bo really jump over a parked Volkswagen? (Yes.) Did he actually run a 4.13 40? (Yes.) During the 1991 flight that nearly killed every member of the Chicago White Sox, was he in the cockpit trying to help? (Oddly, yes. Or no. Or ... maybe.)

Bo Jackson isn't Jim Thorpe.

He's not Deion Sanders, either.

No, Bo Jackson is Paul Bunyan.

The Last Folk Hero is the true tale of Bo Jackson that only "master storyteller" (NPR.org) Jeff Pearlman coul… (more)

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I don't typically give biographies a full 5-star review because the story is mostly written for the author and they tend to lean in one of two directions. Either they are poorly concealed fans of the subject who highlight all the positives and play-down or outright ignore the less pleasant parts. Or they rip the subject apart pointing out every piece of dirt. I expected by the title for this to be one of the former. Instead, Jeff Pearlman has written one of the most balanced accounts of a sports star I have read. All the highlights are noted, but they are put in context of everything else that was happening at the time. Bo is portrayed with all the complexities including his vast capacity to be both endlessly charitable and endlessly horrible depending on the person and circumstance.

If you want all the hype, go read Bo's autobiography. If you want to really learn about the man and the myth... read The Last Folk Hero. ( )
  csayban | Dec 13, 2023 |
The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson by Jeff Pearlman was a fun biography that I listened to. For me this was an enjoyable look back on a person who was in the sporting spotlight throughout my youth. Hearing the names of the players (even if some of them were mispronounced), places, games, and outcomes were a trip down memory lane. Fun to revisit and recall, I caught myself sometimes head shaking at the ability of Mr. Jackson to separate himself with feats of absolute amazing athletic ability.
This was the premise of the book, Bo Jackson a human who has/had a larger-than-life impact on the sports of football, baseball and track. Was Pearlman right to use the word fold hero? Would I use the folk hero? You know what, maybe...Folk heroes are about stories, about crazy events, impossible feats told repeatedly. This is Bo Jackson.
While Bo was mostly in incredibly gifted individual in the realm of athletics, he was also an incredible diva who was oft injured, and moody. Heck, if there was one other thing that I got out of the book was that rivaling his athletic ability was is ego and his jackassery.
Mr. Pearlman walks us through Bo's life from his parents and birth, through his tough and poor youth, his high school sports mastery, college athletic domination (kinda), his pro careers, injury and post injury life. Much of the focus seems to be on his youth and college years, with the remaining 1/4 of the book left to tell of his pro sports, injury and post injury life. I felt that this was covered way too quickly, relatively speaking as there is/was so much there to cover and wasn't.
Pearlman's prose were well written. The story never seemed to drag from that stand point. Looking back it is a bit perplexing that he would get into the minutia with high school baseball games that would take multiple pages to describe, but cover whole major league baseball seasons in just a couple...
All-in-all Pearlman did his job by detailing the life, the athletic life for the most part, of the exceptional athlete that was Vincent 'Bo' Jackson. Was he the greatest athlete ever? That is not answered and is still a debate that will, like most folk heroes, be talked about for a long time to come.
JD Jackson as the reader/narrator did OK, but is limited in his vocal range, not that great when speaking in a more feminine tone, and mispronounced professional football and baseball players names.
I would recommend this to those interested in sport biographies. I give it three stars. ( )
  Schneider | Jun 13, 2023 |
Tore through, still an amazing story. Of course I was most partial to the Royals stories, as that is what hit closest to home. I still remember feeling betrayed when he signed with the Raiders - of all teams! The Chiefs hated rival. Kansas City would have renamed the town, Missouri the state, had Bo played at Arrowhead. ( )
  kcshankd | Jan 27, 2023 |
Showing 3 of 3
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Epigraph
Paul Bunyan, (you have heard of Paul?)
He was the king pin of 'em all,
The greatest logger in the land;
He had a punch in either hand
And licked more men and drove more miles
And got more drunk in more new styles
Than any other peavey prince
Before, or then, or ever since.

"The Round River Drive"
by Douglas Malloch and James MacGillivray
April 25, 1914
Dedication
To Joan Pearlman, my mother and hero.

When I was a kid, Mom worked as a probation officer. Every man in her office carried a gun.

She was tough enough not to.
First words
The other day I was walking through the airport in Atlanta, working my way past security and toward the gate, when a TSA agent pulled me aside and asked, pointedly, "What's in your suitcase?"
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Biography & Autobiography. Sports & Recreations. Nonfiction. HTML:

By the New York Times bestselling author of Showtime‚??the source for HBO's Winning Time‚??the definitive biography of mythic multi-sport star Bo Jackson.

"A legendary tome on a legendary athlete." ‚??Chris Herring, author of Blood in the Garden

From the mid-1980s into the early 1990s, the greatest athlete of all time streaked across American sports and popular culture. Stadiums struggled to contain him. Clocks failed to capture his speed. His strength was legendary. His power unmatched. Video game makers turned him into an invincible character‚??and they were dead-on. He climbed (and walked across) walls, splintered baseball bats over his knee, turned oncoming tacklers into ground meat. He became the first person to simultaneously star in two major professional sports, and overtook Michael Jordan as America's most recognizable pitchman. He was on our televisions, in our magazines, plastered across billboards. He was half man, half myth.

Then, almost overnight, he was gone.

He was Bo Jackson.

Drawing on an astonishing 720 original interviews, New York Times bestselling sportswriter Jeff Pearlman captures as never before the elusive truth about Jackson, Auburn University's transcendent Heisman Trophy winner, superstar of both the NFL and Major League Baseball and ubiquitous "Bo Knows" Nike pitchman. Did Bo really jump over a parked Volkswagen? (Yes.) Did he actually run a 4.13 40? (Yes.) During the 1991 flight that nearly killed every member of the Chicago White Sox, was he in the cockpit trying to help? (Oddly, yes. Or no. Or ... maybe.)

Bo Jackson isn't Jim Thorpe.

He's not Deion Sanders, either.

No, Bo Jackson is Paul Bunyan.

The Last Folk Hero is the true tale of Bo Jackson that only "master storyteller" (NPR.org) Jeff Pearlman coul

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