Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood
On Sale: October 10, 2010
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Jane Leavy, the acclaimed author of the New York Times
bestseller Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy, returns with a
biography of an American original—number 7, Mickey Mantle.
Drawing on more than five hundred 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
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.
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