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The Boys of Summer

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  6,115 ratings  ·  211 reviews
This is a book about young men who learned to play baseball during the 1930s and 1940s, and then went on to play for one of the most exciting major-league ball clubs ever fielded, the team that broke the color barrier with Jackie Robinson. It is a book by and about a sportswriter who grew up near Ebbets Field, and who had the good fortune in the 1950s to cover the Dodgers ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 474 pages
Published May 9th 1973 by signet (first published 1972)
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Moneyball by Michael LewisBall Four by Jim BoutonThe Boys of Summer by Roger KahnShoeless Joe by W.P. KinsellaThe Natural by Bernard Malamud
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3rd out of 432 books — 466 voters
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Top reads for sports fans
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Chris
I requested this book from the library expecting to love it, but the first few pages were so choked with baseball nostalgia of endless days of summer, boys growing to be gods in the green cathedrals of yesteryear, the tragic ending in the bitter days of autumn, blah blah blah. I almost put it down before I got through the intro. But I'm very glad I kept at it, because it ended up being wonderful -- if not at all what I expected when I decided to read it.

I thought I was going to get the story of
...more
Matt
I tried to read this book when I was much younger (maybe 8th grade?) and couldn't get through it. Now I know why -- it's not a book for a 13-year-old. It's about aging, and disappointment, and nostalgia, and its very good at exploring these emotions through the lens of the Brooklyn Dodgers of the early 1950s. I enjoyed the baseball very much, and also liked the way Kahn wove in both his own life story and the stories of several players, as athletes and as people. It's striking how much the tale ...more
Douglas
You really can't pick a better book to read in the throes of summer, or in any season of life, for that matter. More than a book about baseball or summer, this is a book about living and what makes living so good.

The Boys, ascending from unassuming childhoods and lowly towns, somehow seemed fated to achieve the greatness that was the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1940's and 1950's. And what's more, Roger Kahn, one of the great sports writers that ever lived, was destined to be their chronicler. The B
...more
Len Washko
Very much enjoyed - savored every word, every phrase. I remembered this as a baseball book - having read it as a 16 year old in the seventies. Reading it as a 52 year old man (it was written by a 52 year old man) I find it is not a baseball book at all - but a memoir, a tribute to Kahn's father and family, a sweet remembrance of his initiation as a young beat writer covering the Dodgers, and a lament (and again a tribute) to the his aging childhood heroes... the Jackie Robinson Dodgers. this is ...more
Porter Kelly
I read this in high school. It was on a list of books that we could choose from in my honors English class. Of course, as a lifelong baseball fan, I was very excited to read it. When we went around the room and told the teacher my choice he said, condescendingly, "Now, you know that's a book about baseball and not boys, right?" What a dick.

Anyway, I digress...I loved this book. Seeing "42" made me remember it.
Harold Kasselman
Ok, so I finally decided to read "Boys Of Summer" and I'm melancholy. I have just gone through an emotional ride with the epilogue. This is a wonderful book. I was hesitant the first 80 pages to understand why the book was heralded as great and then I understood. The inside look at the life of great sports reporters,the insider voices of Durocher the antagonist and Robinson's responses, the feeling amongst the team when they began to win, the insecurity of the Duke even at his prime,the humorou ...more
Tim
What I disliked about this book: I would NOT agree with those that called this book "America's finest book on sports". I think the problem is... the majority of the book was about "where are they now". When the book was originally published in 1972, most of the readers were very familiar with the players. Now-a-days, the readers are not. I was interested to hear more about the ballplayers as ballplayers and more about how the season went. I've heard that the 1952 World Series was one of the grea ...more
Barnabas Piper
Nostalgic in the best sense of the word. Kahn paints a picture of one of the great eras in the great eras of baseball. The portraits of Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson are especially gripping. But the best part of the book, at least in my opinion, was the account of his upbringing in Brooklyn with a baseball-loving, intellectual father and a mother who disapproved. He makes the reader feel like it is 1940's new york wherever the book is being read.
Louise Turner
Seeing the movie "42" reminded me of this book I had read long ago. It covers the Brooklyn Dodgers team of the '52 &'53 seasons, a few years after Jackie Robinson broke the major league color barrier. Although the Dodgers made it to the World Series both these years they lost to the Yankees both times, causing their heartbroken fans to "Wait until next year" once more. Still this was one of the truly great teams, with four members--Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, PeeWee Reese, and Duke Snid ...more
Garrett Cash
Too maudlin to take seriously, and focusing on aspects I did not care about, The Boys of Summer (despite being considered one of the greatest sports books of all time) is sorely disappointing. I wished it were better. One hundred pages is taken up recounting the authors growing up in Brooklyn. The next one hundred pages detail his covering the Dodgers, and the last two hundred fifty are a series of extremely similar, dull interviews with all of the players about sixteen years after they played o ...more
Justin Oh
This book is very interesting. It has two parts to it. The first part of the book talks about his career as a young reporter. He grew up being a Brooklyn Dodgers fan and now he can report for the team. He felt like he was part of the team. Also this wasn't just no ordinary season for the Dodgers. It was when Jackie Robinson was playing when blacks couldn't play this game of baseball.

The second part of the book talks about the players itself. How good they were and how they won and went the the w
...more
A. Bowdoin Van Riper
I came to The Boys of Summer knowing two things about it: That it was about the fabled Brooklyn Dodgers teams of the early 1950s, and that it had a reputation for being beautifully written. The second is, without a doubt, true; the first is also true, but only incidentally. This is not a book about the Dodgers: It’s a book about growing up, growing old, and other Big Issues, for which the Dodgers act as a touchstone.

The book is divided into three unequal acts: a kaleidoscopic memoir of a Brookly
...more
matteo
I have to start this off by saying that I hate the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team. And, by association, their Brooklyn ancestors. But the history of the team in Brooklyn, the stories from before the westward migration of the Giants and Dodgers in the 50s, the legends of the New York baseball teams in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn... you can't love baseball and not love everything about this book. The first half, about growing up blocks away from Ebbets Field and the Dodgers, and being a ...more
John
"The Boys of Summer," about the 1952-1953 Brooklyn Dodgers, is a marvelous book. This is the team of Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, and Joe Black, among others. Today, Robinson is often portrayed in a safely beatific light, but he was fierce, coarse, and brilliant, and a "troublemaker" from childhood. My admiration of him is full to overflowing, as is my admiration for team captain Pee Wee Reese.

Roy Campanella, the Dodgers black catcher, was signed by the Dodgers not
...more
Tom Stamper
I was a Yankee from the age of 8. Literature to me was Sparky Lyle's Bronx Zoo or Mickey Mantle's Quality of Courage. I would sit in the floor at Walden Books and read Bill James Baseball Abstract. Always nearby was this Boys of Summer about the hated Dodgers. I had no interest. In my habit of collecting books I bought a used copy a few years ago, but it never got off the shelf. Not until last week when I saw that Sports Illustrated rated it #2 on the best sports books of all time did I acquiesc ...more
Austin Gisriel
Enjoyable and interesting, there was also something mildly irritating about The Boys of Summer, which I think was a certain strident tone that murmured faintly in the background, but became more noticeable as the book reached its conclusion. Roger Kahn worked to make sure that we viewed the old Dodgers as HE did. He was too sure of his own viewpoint, always a dangerous practice, especially when dealing with human beings. I realize that this was really a memoir about coming of age that includes a ...more
carl  theaker

A good insight into the early 50s dodger years. I was always somewhat aware of some of the more famous players reese, snider, robinson though they were from an era before my baseball time, but this book brings out a lot about them and the everyday guys also. I liked it more than I thought I would.
Kenny
The best book of sporting journalism you will ever read.
Jim Snowden
For an evocation of baseball circa 1952 I preferred the biography of Willie Mays by James S. Hirsh, Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend. The famous part that makes Kahn's book a classic is its second half when he revisits the dispersed players in 1970 and brings home to you how evanescent their glory days as athletes were (along with giving a snapshot of America in 1970). Some of these later chapters, like Joe Black's and Roy Campanella's, are inspiring. The greatest athlete and strongest personal ...more
Sally Grey
Roger relies too much on the reader's having been there, when only he was there. Still, it is a good retrospective of a time and a place, with follow-up vignettes of various Dodger players.
Jack
Interesting book about the Brooklyn Dodgers

Starts out with an interesting glimpse of life in Brooklyn in the 30's and an autobiography of Roger Kahn. Once Kahn gets to the part about covering the Dodgers for a newspaper, the story gets more interesting, but that's just a fairly brief part of the book.

The rest of the book covers what happened to the main players after they left the game. I enjoyed that much more, as well as some history of the franchise.

Overall a good book for baseball fans.
Phyrman21
I sometimes loved this book and sometimes hated it.

It was neat to read about the great Dodger players. The references and information on the other great players of the time were also interesting. I never got to see these players play, but as a huge MLB fan I know the names. I word have loved to see a game in Ebbetts Field.

The parts I didn't like so much were the long mentions of the authors work histories.

Though his personal interactions with these guys was interesting, other personal bits we
...more
Mike Carey
This was a hard book for me to get into. The first 100 pages or more are primarily about Kahn's childhood, his relationship with his Dad and home life and the connection he made as a boy to the Brooklyn Dodgers. It really didn't hold my interest.
Then the book turns to his time at the NY Herald Tribune as a sportswriter that was assigned to the Dodgers in 1952. The best part of the book for me is his beautiful writing about those years and the unforgettable teammates from those magical years, 13
...more
Paul Frandano
I read this book not long after its release, more than 40 years ago, and recently revisited it in its latest edition,with Kahn's most recent addenda, bringing the story up to around 1999 and "A Farewell to the Captain," Harold Peter Henry Reese. (As as a stand-alone chapter, "A Farewell..." is an intensely moving narrative, especially for anyone who actually remembers having seen and, with a little boy's devotion, rooted for these particular Boys of Summer.) In my first encounter in the mid-1970 ...more
Craig Dyson
I am a 36 year old life long Dodgers fan and more importantly a lifelong baseball fan. With that in consideration, a few months ago I started reading this book for the first time. Looking back there are two key reason why I am glad I did not read this book as a teenager nor would I allow either one of my boys to read it in their youth. 1. It is baseball language. Well, actually I would imagine there are those players who don't use such choice words but for the most part fowl language is apart of ...more
Bob
I read a baseball book every summer. This is one of the classics that I finally got around to reading. Kahn was the New York Herald Tribune reporter for the 1952-53 Brooklyn Dodgers. The first half of the book recounts the pennant runs and series losses and the building of relationships with the men that made up this team. Kahn moved on from the Tribune after 1953 and the players eventually retired. The second half of the book recounts Kahn's visits with these men in 1970.

Baseball concentrates
...more
Scott
Sep 19, 2009 Scott rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone, especially baseball fans
Shelves: baseball
Certainly, this book does not need another adoring review from a nostalgic fan who never saw the 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers play. It is universally regarded as a classic in its field. I am an avid baseball fan who devours baseball books yet, amazingly, I never read it. I always thought that this was little more than a fan's love letter to his favorite team, a perennial also-ran who couldn't get past the mighty Yankees. It is not. This book is so much more than that: it is a document of an era and a r ...more
Ira
One more book I'm stunned to NOT find on high school reading lists in the US because it's hard to find a better "Making of America" tale, or one so eloquently written.

Khan has a unique subject at his hand. The integration of major league baseball when baseball was by far the number one sport in the nation, so far ahead that it would have been hard to claim professional boxing - then number 2 - was even in the race. And Khan has the good fortune to find this tale set in that All - American City,
...more
Scott Graham
THE GREATEST GENERATION AND THE NATIONAL PASTIME

Kahn's book is regularly classified as the best book on baseball ever written, and in part I believe it's because much of it isn't actually about baseball. (Jim Bouton's BALL FOUR is usually seen as the other option. A very different book - good for humoring 14 year old boys.) The first half of the book paints the author's childhood in Brooklyn in a culturally sophisticated but middle-class Jewish home. Kahn's relationship with his dad, using the D
...more
Ryan
This book absorbed most of Saturday night and all of Sunday - I managed to get laundry done but very little else. One critic complained that it was really two books and I suppose that is true. The first half is the author's story - how he grew up, how he discovered baseball, the Dodgers, his time as a copyboy and learning the ropes about writing about sports, then his time covering the Dodgers. His Dodgers were the Brooklyn Dodgers, through the 1950s, maybe into the 60s. While I read, they were ...more
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Baseballia: The First Book: The Boys of Summer 17 6 Apr 01, 2014 04:44AM  
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“You may glory in a team triumphant, but you fall in love with a team in defeat. Losing after great striving is the story of man, who was born to sorrow, whose sweetest songs tell of saddest thought, and who, if he is a hero, does nothing in life as becomingly as leaving it.” 12 likes
“Why do we remember the Boys of Summer? We remember because we were young when they were, of course. But more, we remember because we feel the ache of guilt and regret. While they were running, jumping, leaping, we were slouched behind typewriters, smoking and drinking, pretending to some mystic communion with men we didn't really know or like. Men from ghettos we didn't dare visit, or rural farms we passed at sixty miles an hour. Loving what they did on the field, we could forget how superior we felt towards them the rest of the time. By cheering them on we proved we had nothing to do with the injustices that kept their lives separate from ours. There's nothing sordid or false about the Boys of Summer. Only our memories smell like sweaty jockstraps.” 4 likes
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