Nathan's Reviews > Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy

Sandy Koufax by Jane Leavy
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Jan 07, 2010

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bookshelves: franklin-library, history
Read from July 29 to 30, 2010

When Sandy Koufax is your subject, two courses of action become very easy: tripping over yourself and falling flat attempting to distill his genius, or merely standing back and letting his art infuse your prose with its uncanny beauty. Fortunately, Leavy mostly sticks with the latter. Her first chapter easily ranks among the best pieces of baseball writing I've ever read. The later chapters stumble a bit as she weaves between time periods, back and forth between performances, but she stays on course, guided by an appreciation for his talent that is kept from adulation by a deep foundation of research (her interviews with Koufax, a very private man, are the centerpiece of her book).
Leavy, apart from her inspired beginning, doesn't display all that much raw talent of her own. She always comes close to mediocrity while never quite sinking into it. But if she isn't a great writer, she compensates by being a great researcher; the interviews with the players, with Koufax himself, carry this book singlehandedly.
Will this book reveal more about Koufax than most already know? Probably not, but greatness like this demands analysis even as it defies it. We want always another look, another listen, another quote, another book. This is as good as any a book about a pitcher who was better than most.
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