The Boys of Summer

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9780060914165: The Boys of Summer

This is a book about some young men who learned to play baseball during the 1930s and 1940s in such places as Reading, Pennsylvania; Anderson, Indiana; Plainfield, New Jersey; Woonsocket, Rhode Island; and then went on to play for one of the most exciting professional teams that the major leagues ever fielded--the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950s--the team that broke the color barrier with Jackie Robinson and set many other records besides.

It is also a book by and about a once-young sportswriter for the Herald Tribune who grew up in the 1930s and 1940s within shouting distance of Ebbets Field, was nurtured on Joyce and Shakespeare and occasionally escaped to see his bumbling heroes play, and then had the miraculous good fortune in the 1950s to cover the Dodger team for the Tribune.

Finally, this is a book about what's happened since to Jackie Robinson, Carl Erskine, Preacher Roe, Pee Wee Reese, Billy Cox, Roy Campanella, Carl Furillo and the others, no longer boys but men in their middle years with their glories behind them. For some, they have been happy years; to others, fate has not been kind. In short, it is a book about America and how it has progressed from the 1930s to the 1970s, about fathers and sons, prejudice and courage, triumph and disaster. Told with warmth, humor, wit, candor and love, The Boys of Summer is delightful and exhilarating.

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Review:

"At a point in life when one is through with boyhood, but has not yet discovered how to be a man, it was my fortune to travel with the most marvelously appealing of teams." Sentimental because it holds such promise, and bittersweet because that promise is past, the first sentence of this masterpiece of sporting literature, first published in the early '70s, sets its tone. What follows only gets better, deeper, more sentimental, and more bittersweet. The team, of course, is the mid-20th-century Brooklyn Dodgers, the team of Robinson and Snyder and Hodges and Reese, a team of great triumph and historical import composed of men whose fragile lives were filled with dignity and pathos. Roger Kahn, who covered that team for the New York Herald Tribune, makes understandable humans of his heroes as he chronicles the dreams and exploits of their young lives, beautifully intertwining them with his own, then recounts how so many of those sweet dreams curdled as the body of these once shining stars grew rusty with age and battered by experience. It is the rare sports book that cannot be contained by the limitations of its genre; it is equal parts journalism, memoir, social history, and poetry.

About the Author:

Roger Kahn is the award-winning author of The Boys of Summer, the classic bestseller about Jackie Robinson, the Dodgers and growing up in Brooklyn. He is the author of many other books whose subjects range from baseball to political activism, including Joe & Marilyn: A Memory of Love about the courtship and marriage of Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe and A Flame of Pure Fire, A New York Times Notable Book of the Year 1999 about boxing great Jack Dempsey.

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Roger Kahn
Published by Harpercollins (1987)
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