Brian's Reviews > Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life

Joe DiMaggio by Richard Ben Cramer
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Aug 08, 2012

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bookshelves: first-time-reading-author, historical-political-or-biography, read-in-2012, sports
Read from July 29 to August 08, 2012

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 cheap shots at dimaggios’ expense at times.

That said, the story of his rise to baseball stardom and the many anecdotes of his professional life and parts of his personal life (particularly related to interactions with known mobsters or Hollywood types) were interesting reading, particularly the sections describing dimaggio and monroe’s relationship, where dimaggio even comes off at times as pitiable, even though he apparently was physically and mentally abusive to Monroe at times.

Dimaggio’s early life as a quiet, not hugely personable boy in San Francisco, Sicilian fisherman father

Playing as star in pacific coast league before signing with yankees

Instant stardom with the Yankees and helping to win multiple world series, new ‘hero’ of Yankees, loss in contract dispute

Dimaggio’s 56 game hit streak, marriage to Dorothy Arnold, friendships with some mob characters, treated like royalty, women, free gifts, etc…

Dimaggio’s divorce from Arnold (due to mental cruelty, indifference it would seem, some philandering, though the author doesn’t touch on whether Arnold knew of joe’s indiscretions (or whether she had any of her own?))

Relatively painless three years off from major leagues playing baseball for armed forces during world war 2, ultimate discharge due to ulcers (caused by worry over disintegrating marriage)

Dimaggio’s fading career, in large part due to injuries, takeover of manager Stengel from Joe McCarthy and then arrival of Mickey Mantle

Dimaggio’s retirement after winning world series, lots of money due to mob bank accounts

Very brief less than one year marriage to marilyn Monroe and then Monroe divorcing due to mental and physical? Anguish, subsequent on/off again relationship, deteroriation of Monroe due to drugs and mental health and then death of Monroe right before dimaggio and Monroe were planning to re-marry

Dimaggio’s sad life at the end wringing money out of business ventures/memorabilia and lack of true friends
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