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The Boys of Summer

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,144 Ratings  ·  256 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
Best Baseball Books
3rd out of 461 books — 510 voters
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Top reads for sports fans
9th out of 595 books — 594 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 04, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
”Sooner or Later,” the author Ed Linn observes, “society beats down the man of muscle and sweat.” Surely these fine athletes, these boys of summer, have found their measure of ruin. But one does not come away from visits with them, from long nights remembering the past and considering the present, full of sorrow. In the end, quite the other way, one is renewed.”

 photo Ebbets20Field_zpsdr2dfydf.jpg

Since the moment I was aware enough to process sounds and know what they mean, I’ve been a Kansas City Royals fan. From opening day unt
...more
Brina
Feb 04, 2016 Brina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball
This is another baseball book that I read in high school. It came up on recommendations and I would like to reread it. I might be a Cubs fan but my dad tells me the story of how he was allowed to stay home from school to listen to game 7 of the 1955 series on the radio because my grandmother liked the Dodgers. Seeing 42 made me remember this book, and it is definitely a memorable gem.
Douglas
Aug 17, 2013 Douglas rated it it was amazing
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
Chris
Jun 05, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball
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
Donna
Mar 27, 2016 Donna rated it really liked it
I liked this book and since this is coming from someone who dislikes baseball (a lot), that is high praise indeed. I loved the voice in this. It was very "folksy"; it felt personal and the love of the game came through loud and clear. The author was engaging. I liked that this book focused on the players of this early era, more than the sport itself. It also touched on civil rights and the first few African Americans who played major ball.

Sometimes I get to the end of the book and wonder about
...more
Matt
Sep 14, 2009 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, sports
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
Harold Kasselman
Mar 18, 2013 Harold Kasselman rated it it was amazing
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
Porter Kelly
May 01, 2013 Porter Kelly rated it it was amazing
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.
Len Washko
Apr 27, 2011 Len Washko rated it it was amazing
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
Louise Turner
Jul 16, 2013 Louise Turner rated it it was amazing
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
Tim
Aug 11, 2011 Tim rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook, sports
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
Jun 26, 2013 Barnabas Piper rated it it was amazing
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.
Jay
Jun 12, 2015 Jay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball, audiobook
There were two things that kept this from being a five star book for me. One was the focus on the author in the beginning of the book – too much autobiography of a Brooklyn kid growing up and having characters as relatives and friends, and becoming a journalist (more characters involved here as well). This entire section I didn’t expect – who knew “The Boys of Summer” referred to sports writers? I think I might have enjoyed it more as a stand-alone book – life of a sports writer in and out of sp ...more
carl  theaker
Mar 08, 2010 carl theaker rated it really liked it
Shelves: sportz

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.
Doreen Petersen
Jun 24, 2015 Doreen Petersen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
Got close to the end of this book and just couldn't stop until I finished. If you love baseball this is definitely a book for you. It was very well written and brought back priceless memories of baseball history.
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
Nov 14, 2013 Justin Oh rated it really liked it
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
Apr 19, 2007 matteo rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 06, 2012 John rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball
"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
Lynn
Feb 11, 2016 Lynn rated it it was amazing
If you like baseball, particularly the history of the game, you'll enjoy this book. I do like baseball, particularly the history of the game, so I enjoyed this book.

It's an old book, originally published in 1971, with material added for a new edition in 1998. At the time it received rave reviews and was a huge best seller.

The subject matter is the Brooklyn Dodgers of the Jackie Robinson era, though this is not another Jackie Robinson book. He was just another player on the team, even if he was t
...more
Howard
Jul 08, 2015 Howard rated it liked it
Roger Kahn was a newspaper journalist who covered his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers for two years in the early 1950s. This book is part biography part auto-biography. In the first part he writes about his childhood and his period of time covering "Dem Bums". Unfortunately, he left his post just before the year the Dodgers finally won the World Series.

Seeing baseball from the inside is very interesting; especially from the time when sportswriters were closer to the players they covered. When he tried
...more
Cathy
Feb 05, 2016 Cathy rated it it was amazing
This book forced me to revisit Dylan's I See the Boys of Summer in Their Ruin and I just realized how homoerotic that poem is. I digress. This is one of my favorite books, one I reread every few years. Death is in our genes, but what glorious genes! Baseball is a rich and sturdy metaphor that easily conveys both our glory and the rot; the beauty of the game and physical prowess, the rot underneath (drugs, money, exploitation, decline and death).




Tom Stamper
Mar 26, 2015 Tom Stamper rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 15, 2014 Austin Gisriel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Austin Balen
Jun 12, 2015 Austin Balen rated it really liked it
5 years ago I bought this book as a read following MoneyBall - the bible of baseball - going in with high expectations of "the greatest baseball book ever written" I never got a chance to get past the first chapter. Finally after reading the wonderful new Ty Cobb biography by Leerhsen, and a disappointing book following that, I finally decided I would read this book.
For 5 years I was missing out on a great book about one of the most historic teams in baseball. While I would not go as far as sayi
...more
Jim Snowden
Nov 02, 2014 Jim Snowden rated it really liked it
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
Mar 16, 2013 Sally Grey rated it it was ok
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.
Red Heaven
Feb 14, 2016 Red Heaven rated it it was amazing
The first half of this book might be unsurpassed as baseball memoir. Kahn writes with a high degree of intelligence and he has plenty of stories and insights into the Dodgers' team and his time as the beat writer for the New York Herald Tribune (no hyphen). The prose is rich and earthy, with plenty of salty language. His insights are invaluable, both in his portrayal of the newspaper business and in bringing the Dodgers' team to life.

The second half of the book is interviews he conducted with th
...more
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.
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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.” 16 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.” 5 likes
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