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The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  4,441 Ratings  ·  412 Reviews
Award-winning sports writer Jane Leavy follows her New York Times runaway bestseller Sandy Koufax with the definitive biography of baseball icon Mickey Mantle. The legendary Hall-of-Fame outfielder was a national hero during his record-setting career with the New York Yankees, but public revelations of alcoholism, infidelity, and family strife badly tarnished the ballplaye ...more
ebook, 493 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by HarperCollins e-books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Apr 05, 2011 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
This book drove me crazy. It is well researched, but a mess…
Page 135 tells the reader to “see appendix 3, page 423.” Appendix 3 spans pages 417-420.
Leavy writes on page 272 “The longtime trainer for the Detroit Tigers regaled pitcher Mickey Lolich with a tale about the time he tried to drink Mantle and Ford under the table.” Leavy writes the full story as told by Lolich, but never gives the name of the trainer. Perhaps Lolich forgot the trainer’s name, but really… Leavy is willing to call half o
Apr 16, 2016 Mahlon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
An unusual biography, in that instead of chronicling Mantle's life from birth to tragic death, the author has chosen to illuminate his life using landmark days in his career. At first I was unsure whether this structure would work, but in the hands of such an able writer as Leavy, it's a surprisingly effective storytelling device.
Jun 22, 2013 Ron rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's rare for me to get 245 pages into a book and give up. I did here for two reasons: first, so far Leavy has crammed 100 pages of story into 245 pages--not to mention, her endless self-referential passages. Second, because I'm a Baby Boomer, this "end of America's childhood" stuff doesn't cut it with me. Yes, Mickey Mantle and Elvis Presley may have led us into the post-war (WWII) era of narcissism and self-indulgence, but it only started with them. It hasn't ended yet--and, if anything, our a ...more
Cheryl Gatling
He was blond. He was beautiful. He was incredibly muscular. He could hit a baseball so far and so hard that jaws dropped open, and people who were there still talk about this or that home run, and how the stitch marks were stamped on the bat. He was a great ball player, but how much greater might he have been if he hadn't hurt his knee, if he hadn't had to play in pain almost every day of his life, if he had followed his doctors' instructions, if he hadn't been a drunk? Pretty much all this was ...more
K.M. Weiland
Jan 07, 2016 K.M. Weiland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever since watching 61*, Billy Crystal’s loving ode to baseball legends Maris and Mantle, I’ve been interested in their history. So when this one popped up a long time ago as a Kindle freebie, I had to grab it. I’m only now getting around to it, but it was worth the wait. Honest, incisive, interesting — and written in an intense, hard-driving prose — it’s the best kind of biography. It gets a bit lengthy in places (such as when Leavy is trying to prove the yardage of some of Mantle's home runs), ...more
Steven Peterson
Dec 09, 2010 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a poignant work. . . . Mickey Mantle, the great New York Yankee slugger, led a desperate life. This work, by author Jane Leavy, tells the tale of his darker life. He drank too much and paid a heavy price for it. But he also displayed a growth of character and confronted his demons late in life. The book is the product of many interviews--including with the Mick himself.

A powerfully executed book. . . .
Chris McClinch
Jun 27, 2011 Chris McClinch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I mentioned on Monday to a coworker in his mid-sixties that I was currently reading The Last Boy, and he commented that the book wasn't good for Mantle's legacy. As a baseball fan in my mid-thirties, I couldn't disagree more. What I tried to explain to him in that conversation, and what I want to make clear to anyone else reading this review who loves baseball but is too young to remember Mantle the icon is that I was already familiar with Mickey Mantle the self-destructive, oft-injured, womaniz ...more
M. Newman
Jan 02, 2011 M. Newman rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
Mickey Mantle was my boyhood idol. In addition to being the most talented and most exciting player on the storied NY Yankees, possibly in all of baseball, he had about him a certain godliness which remained well past his playing career. Years after Mantle had retired and I was grown, I had a part-time job at Yankee Stadium and had the chance to rub elbows with many stars and superstars; the only time that I was ever awe-struck in the presence of any of these deities was when I met Mantle at an ...more
Nov 30, 2010 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was terribly disappointing. So many books have been written about Mickey Mantle that I wondered why another one was just published. The author claimed to have new unwritten revelations about the "Mick's" character. The author's claim to fame was an interview that she had with Mickey Mantle in 1983 in which he "took liberties" with her that she didn't feel comfortable revealing at that time. Thus, the book was a classic bait and switch. The big revelation in the book was that he put his ...more
Chris Witt
Only really shines in the last hundred pages or so, covering Mantle's declining health and death.

Other than that I felt like I was reading things that were cobbled together from prior works on Mantle.

One kvetch - Leavy also really needs to stay on point and stop interjecting her opinion that Roger Maris belongs in the Hall of Fame. He doesn't. Two exceptional seasons and five that are above average aren't enough to get you in. Leavy tries to use advanced metrics to compare Mantle to Willie Mays
Dec 10, 2010 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: baseball fans
I don't read too many biographies, but I've wanted to read this one for some time now. I wasn't disappointed. Jane Leavy takes a granular look at a sports icon. Micky Mantle was a power switch hitter. If you're a baseball junkie, you know how rare that is in the game. Eddie Murray and Chipper Jones are the only others I can recall. Mick, as he preferred to be called, was a self-destructive, complex sports celebrity who loathed all the fame and adulation. We learn of his child abuse, early age dr ...more
Ken Garrett
May 28, 2015 Ken Garrett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heartbreaking account of Mantle's life, with what might be the most appropriate title imaginable. This transcends sports bio as a genre, and digs deep into the soul of its subject, who arguably was killed by his celebrity as much as by his excesses. Not an easy read!
Aug 20, 2013 Barney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I tend to shy away from anything with "end of America" in the title, as usually the text turns into an overblown piece of sentimental foolishness. Not so this book; most of that is due to the subject, but no small part is due to the organizational scheme of the author. In all, this is a highly recommendable book.

Leavy organizes the text around 20 days in the life of Mantle, with a single day in 1983 in Atlantic City as interludes between sections. We see Mantle in various stages:
A. The "Commerce
Everybody has heard of Mickey Mantle. You probably know he is one of he greatest baseball players of all time, and that he hit prolific home runs, including one that was mere feet from flying out of Yankee Stadium. You might even know about his battle with alcoholism throughout his life. However, this book delves into Mantle's dark, tragic history, a story I had never heard before.
On the face, Mantle was an all american hero perfect for the mid 1950's when he exploded onto the national radar w
carl  theaker
Jul 12, 2011 carl theaker rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sportz

I like the 'selected moments' structure of this book, that is,
the author picks several key moments of Mick's life and builds
the story around them. Many of the stories are hilarious and
insightful as to how the game was played, and reported on, in the
'50s & 60s. There is also the sad side, particularly his post
baseball career.

Though the author often muddles the telling of the stories.
In the acknowledgments she thanks her editor for helping her with
this problem, good Lord! How bad must have
Carol Storm
Apr 01, 2014 Carol Storm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful book, full of compassion, joy and love. Jane Leavy writes like a little girl with a schoolgirl crush who has matured into a tough, determined, and resourceful journalist -- without losing any of the innocent affection she once had for her subject.

This book is packed with uproarious anecdotes and heartbreaking tragedy, smashing home runs and drunken arguments, heroic endurance and selfish cruelty. Mickey Mantle emerges as maddeningly immature yet surprisingly perceptive, shallow and se
Nov 16, 2011 Jsavett1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gave this book four stars no so much because I can explain the ways in which it's impressive, but because of the very fact that I finished it. While I read it on my Kindle, I think this book might be just about 400 pages; prior to reading it, I knew almost nothing about Mickey Mantle other than the fact that he was a Yankee and that SO many New Yorkers like Billy Crystal and such ADORE him. I wanted to see what all the adulation was about and was attracted to this book in particular because of ...more
Apr 14, 2013 karl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last 1/3 was great. The first 2/3 was slow, disoriented, back and forth with respect to era and whether baseball or family. The book needs an edit and a condensed version. In defense of the author, it took her 20 years to get the book out the door - having interviewed Mick back in 1983.

I love the title. He was the last "goof off in the club house". He spent much of his life treating women as objects, saying "inappropriate" things, ignoring his family, chasing chicks, and so forth. He was a b
Apr 21, 2011 Janet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
*If I could, I would give this book 2 and a half stars. But I rounded up, since I love baseball.*

I didn't know much about Mickey Mantle before reading this book. So since Leavy just talks about certain parts of his life, not an overview of his whole life in order, I'm lost at times. She throws out names of a lot of players I don't know and it can get confusing trying to keep them all straight.

As an Orioles fan, I was raised to hate the Yankees. Even so, Mantle was able to represent more than ju
Jun 26, 2011 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a kid I was a huge baseball fan, and followed the last few years of Mickey Mantle's career before his retirement in 1968. What a player he was. But what a life wasted and burned out too early. This guy was a superstar when it came to the game, but was a VERY flawed individual........more to be pitied than to be scorned.

This book does a good job of balancing both sides to the man. I was not completely unfamiliar with his life before reading this book, but the author did a great job letting us
Dec 12, 2010 Nick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the first books I remember reading was a kid's biography of Mickey Mantle, probably written in the late 1950s. The Dodgers and Giants had left New York, and the Yankees were for a few years the only game in town. My father stuck with Duke Snider and the Dodgers, but I switched to the Yankees. I mostly identified with Yogi Berra, perhaps because he was Italian-American and read comic books like me, but what boy who loved baseball didn't admire Mickey Mantle in those days? I remember sittin ...more
Mike Smith
Mar 23, 2011 Mike Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dark, genius, sports
Mickey Mantle's life story as told by Jane Leavy is one of the saddest tales I've read. His crippling injury and the refusal of DiMaggio to accept him as his replacement keep him from enjoying his incredible talents as a ballplayer. I knew of his alcoholism, but I never understood how it wrecked his life even while he was still playing. Leavy does a beautiful job of telling the story from a neutral viewpoint, clear manifestation of the epic research she performed to write this biography. I was t ...more
I really didn't know much about Mickey Mantle until I read this book. He led a very interesting life. Recruited to the Yankees at 19, he could have been the world's best baseball player had he not been plagued by injuries and self-doubts that led to destructive behavior throughout his life. The author was a life-long fan who had the opportunity to spend a weekend interviewing Mickey when he was sports director for the Claridge casino in Atlantic City. She also interviewed team mates, family memb ...more
Mar 30, 2013 Fred rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

That's a quote from the Western "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance", but I thought of it the entire time I read this book. From the very beginning of his career, Mantle "the legend" was far more valuable to America than the real Mantle, so they simply printed the legend. Apparently America didn't need another story about an immature, poorly behaved redneck.

Despite Mantle's every effort to, as the author so eloquently puts it "to disgust people to t
John Kues
A tough read. Good writing, but at times disjointed. She said it took her more than five years to write because she couldn't decide how to organize it or approach it. I think it may have suffered some over that period of time, but she is very thorough and really digs to obtain the facts rather than pass on some exaggerated story. It is amazing what Mantle went through, and not many realized how much pain he was experiencing. It is a shame that he drank so much, and experienced the bone problems ...more
Elizabeth Olson
Too young to remember Mantle as an athlete, I've always been aware of him as an inscrutable legend. Leavy's biography illuminates everything from the probable mechanics of his unlikely-seeming feats on the diamond despite horrific damage to his knee and leg, to the influence of family dynamics that haunted and hurt him his entire life. Despite the wreckage of his body and of his relationships -- including the one with himself -- Mickey Mantle was an outstanding ball player, if not such an outsta ...more
Perhaps America's most iconic sports figure, Mickey Mantle was the baseball player that all of us wanted to emulate, until we discovered what a flawed individual he really was. Leavy's book draws out in dramatic detail the more telling episodes in his tragic life -- a bit too detailed for me.
He emerged on the New York stage like a Greek god, hitting with more power and running faster than any player previously, the Achilles of his time. All to quickly, the frailty of the human body, in this case
Mar 12, 2011 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve read quite a bit about Mickey Mantle over the years, most of it not too flattering. This book is not really different in that respect but it also tried to show Mantle’s positives as well. The man was really a train wreck – his demons were unimaginable. But at the same time he could be sympathetic and likeable. Immaculately researched, the book takes several key points in his baseball career and his life after and expands on what his life was like at that time. Leavy even weaves in her coupl ...more
Mar 28, 2011 Dave rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It was really more like 1.5 stars. I liked a few sections. I think the title vastly oversells what Leavy manages to convey.

More than anything else this book seemed to be an effort to reconcile the Leavy's childhood hero Mantle with the dirty old man Mantle that hit on her later in life. She dressed it up with a fancy title and did lots of research (sometimes painfully detailing that research), but failed to connect with America's childhood.

On the positive side, it certainly paints a more compl
Dave Dobbins
The book was a bit disjointed and herky-jerky. I learned a lot of details about what I already knew -- Mantle was an amazing talent, but a flawed person and athlete. Many of the anecdotes seemed to lose their thread and many of them were basically the same. Mantle is hurt and/or drunk, and comes out and either (i) smashes a massive homer or (ii) fails and hurts himself again. We also learn he was a drunken lout most of his life (which everyone already knows). This is probably written more for a ...more
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Jane Leavy is the author of the New York Times bestseller Sandy Koufax: A Leftys Legacy and the comic novel Squeeze Play, which Entertainment Weekly called the best novel ever written about baseball. She was a staff writer at The Washington Post from 1979 to1988, first in the sports section, then writing for the style section. She covered baseball, tennis, and the Olympics for the paper. She wrote ...more
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“When Mantle faced the cameras for the last time a month before his death, he was a husk of a man, shrunken by cancer. The stiff brim of his 1995 All-Star Game cap dwarfed his brow. There was no Mantle Roll. He looked straight into the cameras and told us all, 'Don't be like me.'

The transformation of The Mick parallels the transformation of American culture from willful innocence to knowing cynicism. To tell his story is to tell ours.”
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