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The Last Boy

Cover of The Last Boy

The Last Boy

Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood
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Award-winning sports writer Jane Leavy follows her New York Times runaway bestseller Sandy Koufax with the definitive biography of baseball icon Mickey Mantle. The legendary Hall-of-Fame outfielder was a national hero during his record-setting career with the New York Yankees, but public revelations of alcoholism, infidelity, and family strife badly tarnished the ballplayer's reputation in his latter years. In The Last Boy, Leavy plumbs the depths of the complex athlete, using copious first-hand research as well as her own memories, to show why The Mick remains the most beloved and misunderstood Yankee slugger of all time.

Award-winning sports writer Jane Leavy follows her New York Times runaway bestseller Sandy Koufax with the definitive biography of baseball icon Mickey Mantle. The legendary Hall-of-Fame outfielder was a national hero during his record-setting career with the New York Yankees, but public revelations of alcoholism, infidelity, and family strife badly tarnished the ballplayer's reputation in his latter years. In The Last Boy, Leavy plumbs the depths of the complex athlete, using copious first-hand research as well as her own memories, to show why The Mick remains the most beloved and misunderstood Yankee slugger of all time.

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About the Author-
  • Jane Leavy is an award-winning former sportswriter and feature writer for the Washington Post. She is the author of Sandy Koufax and the comic novel Squeeze Play, called "the best novel ever written about baseball" by Entertainment Weekly. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Leavy chooses 20 days in Mantle's sublime career to profile the '50s icon who was on par with Elvis in his fame and the adoration of his fans. Leavy herself provides an outstanding narration of the preface. Narrator John Bedford Lloyd handles the remaining text commendably. His Southern accent makes Mantle appealing, real, and human. Major and minor characters are distinctive, sometimes funny, and always believable. Joe DiMaggio, in particular, is revealed as unlikable and blatantly jealous of Mantle. The combination of Mantle's talent and self-destructiveness is poignant. The behavior of his teammates toward him, loyal and enabling, is both disturbing and moving. This is a biography that lends itself perfectly to being told. S.G.B. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award (c) AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 26, 2010
    Bob Costas eulogized the Yankee great as "a fragile hero to whom we had an emotional attachment so strong and lasting that it defied logic." The "we" in Costas's remarks—with author Leavy (Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy) as stand-in—is as much the subject of this fascinating biography as the ballplayer himself. Mantle, who succumbed to cancer in 1995 at age 63, was justly famous for his baseball exploits, but what Costas described as Mantle's "paradoxical grip" on a certain generation of baseball fans is exactly what Leavy tackles in this book. She should know. She spent much time in her childhood in the shadow of Yankee Stadium, a tomboyish "Mickey guy" listening to the roar of the crowd from across the Grand Concourse. While a sportswriter for the Washington Post, she won a 1983 assignment to interview Mantle for his upcoming golf tournament in Atlantic City. What happened that day and night between the fading, embittered Mantle and the former fan girl trying to do her job is the drama that structures Leavy's narrative—she has never reported the truth till now, and she does so without judgment. Instead, she proceeds with steely determination to understand what brought this onetime golden boy from the zinc mines of Oklahoma to center stage at Yankee Stadium and made him into America's quintessential tragic hero, a freakily gifted athlete haunted by a deadly genetic inheritance, including alcoholism. With storytelling bravado and fresh research, Leavy weaves around her own story the milestone dates in "the Mick's" career, which as often burnishes the legend as tarnishes it. Leavy concludes that Mantle cavorted in a more innocent time, when people believed in sports heroes and would not hear otherwise. That's hardly a new idea, but no matter: by the end of this book, readers will know what made Mantle rise, fall, and survive into recovery for his last 18 months. In Leavy's hands, the life of Mantle no longer defies logic: it seems inevitable. She's hit a long home run. 8 pages of color and 8 pages of b&w photos.

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The Last Boy
The Last Boy
Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood
Jane Leavy
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