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Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig

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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  2,493 ratings  ·  160 reviews
The definitive account of the life and tragic death of baseball legend Lou Gehrig.

Lou Gehrig was a baseball legend—the Iron Horse, the stoic New York Yankee who was the greatest first baseman in history, a man whose consecutive-games streak was ended by a horrible disease that now bears his name. But as this definitive new biography makes clear, Gehrig’s
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Paperback, 432 pages
Published April 3rd 2006 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2005)
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Shaun
Oh my...now that I've finally stopped crying, I guess I can try to do this book justice.

As the title suggests the first half of this book deals with Lou Gehrig's life...and what a life it was. Growing up, I went to my fair share of baseball games and was happy to cheer on our local Philly team, but it wasn't until I had kids and was sucked into the word of little league and travel ball that I came to hold a true affection for the game.

From March through the beginning of November, most of my week
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Lisa
I read this book while I was on vacation in New Jersey this summer and I never did get around to rating & reviewing it when I got back. But now with all this ice bucket action, I've decided to rectify the situation.

I'm really not a gal who follows sports, or likes sports, or has any interest at all in sports. Growing up, if someone had a game on the television, I found it so grating that I would go in another room and read. Okay, I still do that.

And yet, I really wanted to read this book.

Fi
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Scott Taylor
What made Lou Gehrig special? What made him the luckiest man? In many ways he was average but unlike most average people, though, he happened to be incredibly gifted as a baseball player and he came to have a devastating disease named after him. Those are the facts. I picked up this book -to find out the rest of the story, and mostly found it.

The book starts out with a description of that famous July 1939 day when Gehrig delivered his famous "luckiest man" speech. The audio CD version has actual
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Cheryl Gatling
Lou Gehrig was a shy man, simple in his tastes, and with an almost childlike naivete about him. Tongue-tied around reporters, he was never their darling, as the more flamboyant Babe Ruth was. But he just kept plugging away, and plugging away, and New Yorkers came to love him because he won for them. Until the magic seemed to slip away from him. He became weaker. He stumbled. He dropped things. Surely, a little rest, some nutrition, some physical therapy, or vitamin therapy, would bring him up to ...more
Judy
There's an awful lot about baseball in this book. That should come as no surprise, as Lou Gehrig was famous for being a star baseball player. And I have to admit, I skimmed through a lot of the game descriptions--the play-by-play, if you will. I enjoy baseball, especially when beer and hot dogs are involved, but reading about it doesn't interest me.

What is interesting is reading about Gehrig's early life, his hardscrabble upbringing as the son of poor German immigrants. He was their only child t
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Janine Urban
There will never be another Lou Gehrig. This book was on my bookcase for over a year waiting to be read. I was leary of starting it because I knew how it ended and I didn't want it to break my heart. Needless to say, I opened it and I didn't make it past the prologue before I teared up. I am not a Yankees fan. My baseball team love lyes with another. But I believe that there are players, such as Gehrig, that transcend fan lines. Gehrig was a model player. On the field and in life. In spite of ad ...more
Mqcarpenter
Looking through the glass of hindsight, everyone just flat out looks better. Life is funny that way. If you were mean in reality, history may classify you as "gritty." If you were thoughtful, history may remember you as "genius." Or if you were fat, you may be labeled as "stout and strong." The story of Lou Gehrig is not necessarily an example of this. In reality I will never know. The author will probably not know either. Lou is painted as larger than life in "Luckiest Man." He was thoughtful, ...more
Cheryl
Just so you know, I bought this book before the ALS Ice bucket challenge, and if all you participants and donors want to know something about the disease you donated to and the man it's unofficially named after, then read this. I thought it was a well-researched book full of detail and era-related tidbits and and tons of baseball stats and knowledge. But, and here's the but, I thought the book, like it's said about the man Gehrig himself in this book, for all his accomplishments, it lacked "colo ...more
Mike
I loved this book. It's a testament to both Gehrig and Eig that the book was a steady drumbeat of "this guy was really dull" and each page I thought "yes, but tell me more." Gehrig was just a guy who showed up every day and did his job really well. No flash, no asking for favors, uncomfortable with fame, drank minimally, didn't party, total mama's boy, married late. He was so dull he own teammates though he might still be a virgin into his late 20s. His one vice was that he was a heavy smoker, e ...more
Andy Miller
The thoroughness of this fine biography ties together and explains the different parts of Gehrig's life. The upbringing by his parents who isolated themselves and were of modest means amidst affluence(as shown by his mother's cooking and cleaning at a fraternity that Gehrig would visit while an athlete at Columbia) explain Gehrig's later shyness and aloofness. His initial physical awkwardness explains both his later work ethic and needless insecurity about his baseball skills. It also explains h ...more
Jessica
Lou Gehrig should always be a national hero and I'm not talking about his baseball talent. He led a life of gratitude. Grateful for the opportunity to play a game he loved and earn enough to support his family. He led the New York Yankees by example: always in by curfew, keeping himself in peak condition, never squabble about pay and gave his all every night night on the field. Some team mates were turned off by his shyness, but they never doubted his work and tolerated the rest. He is still ove ...more
Jan
I found this story rich in detail about one of the greatest baseball players, his life in baseball and what a courageous man he was, on and off the field. Until this reading, the movie with Gary Cooper was the only reference I could make to Lou Gehrig. I loved the little pieces of history Eig included in his well-researched book and how he dealt with the disease that took his life. And, here we are, some 75 years later and still no cure has been found for ALS.
Vicki Davis
This was a wonderful book about a courageous, humble man, a man of tremendous integrity. Lou Gehrig lived most of his amazing baseball life in the shadow of the more colorful Babe Ruth, but he never seemed to mind. He believed in hard work and showed that as he set an amazing record for most consecutive games played (a record that was not broken until Cal Ripken), practiced hard to master first base, and was one of the most amazing, natural power hitters the game has ever seen. However, he showe ...more
Diane
I loved this book. Even for a non-avid baseball fan I thought it was pretty fascinating. It was interesting to read more of baseball's historic beginnings; the fascination with the game. People sat on rooftops to watch the Yankees after 40,000 people had filled the stadium. This is baseball at it's finest! Sadly Lou Gehrig died of ALS at the prime of his life; it is to this day a disease associated with him. I guess it was fitting that I read this book during the ice bucket challenge. Nothing ab ...more
Chris Conrey
Great look into the quietest superstar to play the game. If you are a fan of baseball at all, this is worth your time to refresh your history.
Andre
This was a great biography, but the deeper into the story I got, the more difficult the book was to read. That is the result of superb writing. Jonathan Eig did as thorough a job as possible of getting into the details of Lou Gehrig's illness and physical deterioration. The muscular atrophy, search for diagnosis, loss of motor skills, and search for answers are painful to read.

Most biographies are of people who are no longer with us, and we know the ending going in, but rare are those whose deat
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Jeremy
Sep 02, 2010 Jeremy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Baseball fans
I've always been fascinated by Lou Gehrig. While most baseball fans as kids grow up idolizing Babe Ruth, I was drawn to Gehrig. So much so, in fact, that I remember dressing up as him for a 'living wax museum' that my fourth-grade class put on. I memorized all kinds of stuff about his life and then, sadly, his untimely death.

Jonathan Eig has written THE Gehrig biography and has done so in a way that reveals not only the brilliance and power of the ballplayer, but also the sensitivity, insecurity
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Al
If you come to this biography of Lou Gehrig only remembering the Disease (ALS) that would end the Streak (most consecutive Major League ball games played) and result in the Speech (“Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”), you will be rewarded with much more than the man’s heroism in the face of a bleak future; you will revel in the story of one of the most accomplished and unusual men to ever play Major League Baseball. Author Jonathan Eig has done a brilliant job r ...more
Fmartija
Many of us know Lou Gehrig primarily for the disease that afflicted him and carries his namesake. "Luckiest Man" wonderfully opens up the world of Lou Gehrig as a person and as one of, if not the greatest, first basemen ever to play the game of baseball.

Lou Gehrig was a superstar caliber player without the big booming personality that we usually associate with superstar players of that level. He was a cornerstone player in an era of some of the greatest New York Yankees teams to ever take the f
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M. Milner
A detailed, meticulously researched and heartbreaking read, Jonathan Eig's biography of Lou Gehrig is one of the better sports biographies I've read, even if there's a few things that kept irking me about it.

To most. Gehrig has come down to us for two things: a famous speech he made on July 4, 1939 (and what lends this book it's title) and a mind-blogging streak of consecutive games played, never mind that it's been broken. This book does a lot to show how important he was: a powerful hitter, a
...more
Chris Witt
Similar to my issues with Eig's book on Jackie Robinson, this occasionally reads as though somebody leafed through Wikipedia entries and put together a blow-by-blow account of Gehrig's life.

However, it's a step better than that and ultimately enjoyable. Also have to give Eig credit for putting together a biography of a man whose personality doesn't exactly lend itself well to a 350-page reads. Gehrig was basically a quiet guy who went about his work. But Eig brings him to life. You get everythin
...more
Pistol Pete
When picking up "Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig" I really had no expectations. I always viewed Gehrig as Robin to Babe Ruth's Batman ... certainly an all-time great ballplayer, but not very interesting. And, in many respects, this book confirmed it. Gehrig was humble, battled self-confidence issues and amazingly consistent as a ballplayer.

Where this book succeeded, though, was the final third, which dealt with Gehrig's decline, then the revelation of his illness. I couldn't help
...more
Mike Veliky
Great Book and I'm not a Yankee fan. I read it because I am a baseball fan. Gehrig was a strong man with great talent and work ethic. A polar opposite of Babe Ruth and most of the time overshadowed by the Bambino. Gehrig who was raised by strict immigrant parents becomes one of the greatest if not the greatest baseball player of all-time who's career was drastically cut short by a deadly disease AS which still has no cure and now known as Lou Gehrig Disease. I can only imagine the numbers he cou ...more
Socraticgadfly
Eig gets past some of the veil-hazed Gehrig mythos, especially about his two years in dealing with the knowledge of ALS.

By going into detail about Gehrig's initial visit to the Mayo Clinic, he makes it clear that, at the start, Gehrig knew more about this disease than the traditonal mythology portrayed. When he first gave his wife the news, in fact, it was him hiding some things from her, not the other way around.

True, she eventually did further research, but Eig relates nothing to support the m
...more
Jenny Brown
A very competently written biography. It avoided the main pitfall of baseball bios which is to give you the details of every single game the subject played.

I'm not more enthusiastic about this book mostly because Gehrig without his tragic death, comes across as dull, and even with it the letters the author tracked down make him sound more pathetic than brave. That isn't the author's fault, and he's done what he can to bring the story alive.

But I have a better understanding now of why growing up
...more
James
Excellent biography of consistently-under-rated Lou Gehrig. Stellar man. Gehrig's letters are printed in part several times in this bio, and he keeps qualifying his thoughts with "I'm just a dumb baseball player" - I'm struck by how smart "dumb jock types" were in the 1930s ... too bad Gehrig is regarded more as an ALS martyr and/or "The Iron Horse" than as a perfect role model for how professional American athletes should conduct themselves.
Laurence A.
If Derek Jeter's life is the ultimate Yankee fairy tale, then Lou Gehrig's is the ultimate Yankee tragedy. I had tears in my eyes from the very first page. This wonderfully written biography chronicles Gehrig's poverty-stricken childhood, his battle with his crippling shyness, his difficulty to make friends, and his overwhelming feelings of inadequacy. All on his meteoric rise to super-stardom. The legend is brought to life in this poignant masterpiece.
Tyler Barker
There was a lot more to #4 than just baseball and the Bronx bombers. His character, devotion to family, dedication towards the game, and tenacity for hard work were among the overall feel. he was such a good hitter even after the onset of ALS he adjusted his swing and batting style to survive nearly two more years in the big leagues.
Sherrie
Lou Gehrig was overshadowed for his entire baseball career, in spite of the fact that he was probably the best first baseman in baseball history. Playing beside Babe Ruth will do that, especially if, like Gehrig, one prefers to be in the background anyway.He was brought to the foreground by his untimely illness and death, and by the "Luckiest Man" speech he gave at Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day (which, it turns out, is not the speech Gary Cooper gave in the fine movie "Pride of the Yankees".)At ti ...more
Kbarr77
My wife bought this for me as a Christmas present and I'm a Red Sox fan, but I feel like the greats like Gehrig transcend parochial allegiances. For a biography this book was somewhat short. However, as we all know, unfortunately so was Lou's life. One more reason for the shortness is that outside of baseball Lou Gehrig led a very mundane life. None the less this was a very interesting and enjoyable read. I would recommend of course to all baseball fans, fans of history and anyone who wants to r ...more
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Jonathan Eig is a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal and a New York Times best-selling author who has written four books: "Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig;" "Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season;" "Get Capone;" and "The Birth of the Pill."
More about Jonathan Eig...
Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season Get Capone: The Secret Plot That Captured America's Most Wanted Gangster The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution Playing With Fire: A Story Of Genius, Madness, and Music I Remember Running: The Year I Got Everything I Ever Wanted - and ALS

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“Italian-Americans in New York had not been in much of a flag-waving mood prior to DiMaggio's arrival. By the All-Star break, the rookie had established himself as a wonderful player (.358, 10HR, 60 RBIs), fully justifying the acclaim. But Gehrig was even better (.399, 20 HR, 61 RBIs). He was leading the league in nearly every category, including invisibility.” 0 likes
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