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Joe Dimaggio: The Hero's Life

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  2,810 Ratings  ·  117 Reviews
In the hard-knuckled thirties, Joe DiMaggio was the immigrant boy who made it big. He was the dominant star in the New York Yankees dynasty. As World War II loomed, Joltin' Joe launched a fifty-six game hitting streak -- and the nation literally sang his name. In the age of postwar ease and plenty, he became Broadway Joe, the icon of elegance and class -- marrying Marilyn ...more
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Published October 1st 2000 by Simon & Schuster Audio (first published 2000)
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Geoff Smith
Jun 20, 2013 Geoff Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good biography of a not so very good man, who was, however, a great baseball player. I loved the story about how Joe got MM out of a psych hospital:

For Marilyn this was the worst fear of her life come true, she was locked away like her mother, a prisoner in a loonie bin. After three days, when she was finally permitted one call, she phoned to Florida. she called Joe DiMaggio. He was there the next day, at the Payne Whitney reception desk, six feet, one-and-a-half inches tall, wide at the shoul
...more
Ralph
Nov 05, 2010 Ralph rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't imagine liking a book about DiMaggio less. He captures none of the magic that made DiMaggio great.
DiMaggio enriched the lives of millions, and acted with grace and with class. No doubt he was a complex person, with faults, and was the product of his environment. This book could have been very interesting and informative to those of us not alive during those years. Instead, we get the hatchet. The book lacks balance, depth and complexity, and was written in a disparaging way.
Accordin
...more
Nathan
Jul 26, 2010 Nathan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really knew nothing specific about Joe DiMaggio coming to this book; just the merest whiff of Marilyn Monroe and that one Simon and Garfunkel song. For me, he fell into that strange category of "great but not particularly interesting" historical figures, even given my personal love of baseball: not as charismatic as Babe Ruth or godlike as Sandy Koufax or as socially relevant as Willie Mays or Jackie Robinson. I'm not sure that I appreciate him any more having read Cramer's book. It isn't that ...more
Tommy Ventre
"A nickel was something to hold on to in Joe's world."

Hats off to Cramer for not falling victim to rosy, mushy sentimentalism when it comes to DiMaggio. So many men of Cramer's age do just that, but the bottom line is that the dude was a paranoid, deranged, cheapskate, abusive asshole. Probably not even worthy of having a journalist the caliber of Cramer write about him, aside from the fact that he really was the best baseball player in history. But this is in no way a baseball book. It's more a
...more
Lola
Stolen from my dad's library, I discovered two things. 1). Joe DiMaggio was kind of a greedy bastard. 2). He really did love Marilyn Monroe. Of course, Marilyn Monroe was what initially drew my attention to this biography. The Marilyn chapters were my favorite. I really did think they loved each other, but it just didn't work out. I loved the fact he put roses on her grave every week until he died. Now that's devotion. That and his phenomenal baseball playing might just redeem him from his gree ...more
Andre
Nov 17, 2009 Andre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent biography. The only nitpick--and it is a minor one--is that the thirty years between Marilyn Monroe's death and the 1989 San Francisco earthquake are ignored. Reading further, though, let me know everything I needed to know about those years. This as thorough an examination of a somewhat reclusive enigma as you will ever read.

Richard Ben Cramer must be commended for his research. It is clear the author truly loves and admires his subject, but he did not hide the negatives from the read
...more
Sherrie
Aug 03, 2012 Sherrie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: baseball fans, biography readers
This is certainly a different look at Joe DiMaggio. The athlete who was always considered the epitome of class turned out to be (according to Cramer) a crude, womanizing cheapskate with a very bad temper when crossed. All of which would probably make him not a lot different than the worst of today's professional ballplayers. (It is certainly interesting to speculate how different The Yankee Clipper's legend would have been had he played in today's age of social media and constant press coverage. ...more
Eddy Allen
Mar 28, 2014 Eddy Allen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
cc:

Joe DiMaggio was, at every turn, one man we could look at who made us feel good.
In the hard-knuckled thirties, he was the immigrant boy who made it big -- and spurred the New York Yankees to a new era of dynasty. He was Broadway Joe, the icon of elegance, the man who wooed and won Marilyn Monroe -- the most beautiful girl America could dream up.
Joe DiMaggio was a mirror of our best self. And he was also the loneliest hero we ever had.
In this groundbreaking biography, Pulitzer Prize-winning jo
...more
N.N. Light
Dec 29, 2014 N.N. Light rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all baseball fans and especially Yankee fans
I love this book. I had read it more than a decade ago and chanced upon a copy when on vacation in the summer and had to have it in my collection. This is the unabashed story of Joe DiMaggio. Anyone today who subscribes to the half baked sabermetric approach that DiMaggio is barely a top 20 all time player needs to read this book. DiMaggio drove himself to stardom. In his prime there was no one better at playing baseball. He was an incredible hitter, runner and fielder. His personal life was tro ...more
Eddie
Jan 07, 2013 Eddie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a Mantle guy. Always have been, always will be. So my fan-to-athlete relationship with DiMag has always been one of weary side-eye and respect. But, this beautifully written, comprehensive biography has changed all that. I read this book immediately after reading the wonderful Last Boy Mantle bio by Jane Leavy. As great as that book was, The Hero's Life was superior. I enjoyed every aspect of this biography and would actually read it again, which is not something that I say often (especiall ...more
Meagan
Feb 28, 2012 Meagan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm always fascinated by the history of the game and my goal is to read as much about the game that I love as I can. I didn't know much about the Great Joe DiMaggio before I read this book, and boy did I learn a a lot...and the majority of it was-he wasn't very nice. This book was very slow in parts, but once you got to his retirement and his business dealings, it got very interesting. If you want an eye-opening look into one of baseball's all time greats, then give this a read. It's definitely ...more
Daniel Nelson
Mar 25, 2010 Daniel Nelson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best biographies I have read. It pulls no punches in looking at the life and times of Joltin Joe DiMaggio. There are memorable passages such as DiMaggio's hitting streak, his own view of entitlement, his approach to the game and relationship with Marilyn Monroe. A complicated hero and a very interesting account of one of the great ball players of all time. The off the field passages about DiMaggio are as fascinating as those describing the Yankee Clipper on the field. You won't be dis ...more
Cristobal
The last third of the book really dropped off. Up until then, it was a really good detailed read.
Brian
Much of this book seems intent on piercing the dimaggio yankee legend by relating tales of his controlled image, his aloofness, cheapness and generally not very exciting personality. For someone who grew up idolizing dimaggio, I’d imagine this kind of thing might be breathless and shocking reading, but for a more modern reader in today’s day and age such as myself, this type of thing elicited a general shrug of the shoulders. This book, while generally very readable, also took a few unnecessary ...more
Brent Soderstrum
Oct 04, 2016 Brent Soderstrum rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever read a book where you didn't like any of the people in it? Sadly enough that is the case with this book. Cramer tells a story about an ego-maniac who was also one of the greatest baseball players ever. Joe DiMaggio was a cultural icon who won world championship, was married to beautiful women (including Marilyn Monroe) and had songs written about him yet as described in the book Joe was a greedy, self-centered man who hardly ever paid for anything including food, lodging and entert ...more
Larry Hostetler
Jul 19, 2014 Larry Hostetler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Very interesting and thorough. The book seemed to be the result of extensive research, all the more impressive as one reads about the lengths to which DiMaggio went to protect his privacy.

I learned much from the book, and found it to be compelling and yet complete. As I read the acknowledgements I realized the extent to which DiMaggio's life had already been chronicled, and was even more impressed.

This book seemed to neither be a hagiography nor an attempt to show DiMaggio as having feet of cl
...more
Alan
Feb 09, 2014 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a baseball fan, the name Joe DiMaggio has such strong connotations, the 56-game streak, the Ted Williams rivalry, the glory days of the Yankees and of course Marilyn Monroe. I never knew much about him, and clearly what I did think I knew was the mythology of the hero. As it turns out, if this biography is to be believed (and there's nothing that causes me to believe it shouldn't be), Mr. DiMaggio was not a nice man. He treated his friends poorly, was cheap as dirt, and a man with a short and ...more
Eric
Aug 14, 2012 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports-biography
A well-written biography about one of the most famous baseball players of all time. Joe D was a real messed up dude and if he lived today with the current media he would probably be a Tiger Woods type pariah. His reputation is much better than he deserves since he failed at all the important things in life apart from baseball and making money. The one thing lacking in this book were what happened to Joe from 1962 to 1989. For some reason the author chose not to cover this time of his life. I fel ...more
Paul Gleason
This is a gossipy tome about a great ballplayer who was a bad man.

Cramer has a condescending writing style that is most likely an attempt to imitate the thought process of a man for whom he obviously doesn't care. This use of style, I guess, gives the book some aesthetic merit.

But the problem is that Cramer gets bogged down in providing way too much detail about DiMaggio's personal life (he really does come off as a bland version of Cobb and not very likable) and not a whole lot about baseball.

A
...more
Nicolo Yu
Sep 06, 2009 Nicolo Yu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
A well researched biography of baseball legend Joe DiMaggio. It covers his childhood in San Francisco, his rise in the minors and prime as the alpha Yankee of its greatest dynasty. But you can never tell a DiMaggio story without his queen, Marilyn Monroe and how it ends so tragically.
Though the latter chapters was like wading through treacle, the chapters that cover his Yankee years were the best and the ones I enjoyed the most.
This makes me get up and go out look for more hidden sports gems at
...more
Mark Loring
Aug 26, 2014 Mark Loring rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hey, I'm a RED SOX fan and I still liked this book. That says A LOT!
Tracy Backer
Mar 20, 2017 Tracy Backer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I may be a little late to the party, but I had no idea that Joe DiMaggio was such a penny-pinching, stingy, mean, vindictive jerk (did I miss anything?). Cramer's book is an exhaustive look into the Yankee Clipper and his baseball career, but also his personal life, including a pretty deep dive into his tumultuous relationship with Marilyn Monroe. About 50 page in I said to the man who lent me the book, "Boy, was he a jerk." and he said, it gets better. He may have been one of the era's (or even ...more
Christopher Kanas
As a biography, Cramer did a wonderful job in his research and the book is peppered with great characters, great history, and interesting facts both baseball and Hollywood. I particularly enjoyed Cramer's writing style as he writes with natural conversation style and not too dry in his telling of the story. It was a book I was engaged in and didn't let it rest while I browsed other books as it kept me captivated for the majority of it.

It's not to say the book is without fault, although it would
...more
Jon Ciliberto
[I am within 80 pages of the end of this book, and maybe will set aside, will take a walk on this one. It is perfectly fine biography, but I think I have "gotten" what the author is saying about DiMaggio. -- Correction: powered through it, kept fouling off the bad pitches until I got one to hit.] The personal portrait (selfish, cheap, aloof, angry) that comes across has some balance (almost entirely in the depiction of his care and love for Marilyn after they'd divorced).

The books is competentl
...more
Fred
Mar 12, 2014 Fred rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All DiMaggio did was win at the highest level and on the biggest stage. All he did was produce when everyone was relying on him. All he did was live the rest of his life as a hero. Yet his story is a tragedy. Richard Ben Cramer's amazing biography seeks to share the hidden story behind the headlines and mythology that is Joltin' Joe. He tells us of a man driven to succeed as a way of guaranteeing his security in fickle world. It is not a pretty portrait which makes this book different from other ...more
Loren Kantor
Sep 08, 2011 Loren Kantor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is as much about what it means to be a "hero," as it is about Dimaggio's life. Joe came to represent everything that was great about America. Courage, strength, grace, gallantry. His rise as a superstar baseball player covered the period from the Great Depression to Post WWII and like America, he rose above his own poverty to reach a worldly success unheard of before him. He also vicariously represented the dreams of immigrants throughout the country.
But his post baseball life did not
...more
Brian
Aug 06, 2011 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This biography gives readers an unfiltered look in to the life of Joe DiMaggio, one of the greatest baseball players and celebrities of the 20th Century. Add to it his romance and marriage to Marilyn Monroe, the biggest sexpot, starlet of the 20th Century, and you have a wonderful and fantastic tale to read.

Cramer concentrates on DiMaggio's teenage years and Yankees career, but unfortunatley skips most of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. (I've always wondered what the world's biggest celebrities do when t
...more
Jaime Contreras
I read this book with an open mind. I came away with a portrait of a man who achieved fame by doing what came naturally to him - playing baseball.
Joe DiMaggio came from simple beginnings and handled his platonic relationships on a basic level - enjoyment of the relationship, getting benefits from them, and jettisoning those who betrayed him. Sadly, he fell into the trap that many who achieve fame - he developed a sense of entitlement, disregarded using a social filter by mixing with some questio
...more
Jack Perreault
Oct 22, 2014 Jack Perreault rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
I didn't know much about DiMaggio other then he played for our arch rivals the Yankees and had a 56 game hitting streak.
I am a big fan of his rival Ted Williams, and had read Williams biography.
DiMaggio was graceful mythical figure on the field. He was a totol ball player could hit field and run the basaes.
As extroverted, loud, friendly and big as life Williams was, DiMaggio was a quick tempered, aloof and petty individual who expected never to have to pay for anything because he was the great j
...more
Rodger
Feb 04, 2016 Rodger rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
DiMaggio's 100th birthday would have been November 25, 2014. The winter seemed like a perfect time to read a 500 page baseball biography. Unfortunately, this book proved a bit disappointing. A significant chunk of the book is a gossip-laden section on DiMaggio's time with Marilyn Monroe. In fact, after her death the bio basically skips nearly 25 years to 1988 and proceeds fairly quickly to DiMaggio's death in 2000. The baseball portion of the book is OK, but the author does not make use of any c ...more
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Richard Ben Cramer was an American journalist and writer. He won a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 1979 for his coverage of the Middle East. His work as a political reporter culminated in What It Takes: The Way to the White House, an account of the 1988 presidential election that is considered one of the seminal journalistic studies of presidential electoral politics.
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