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The Boys of Summer

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  10,226 ratings  ·  403 reviews
This is a book about young men who learned to play baseball during the 1930s and 1940s, and then went on to play for one of the most exciting major-league ball clubs ever fielded, the team that broke the color barrier with Jackie Robinson. It is a book by and about a sportswriter who grew up near Ebbets Field, and who had the good fortune in the 1950s to cover the Dodgers ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published May 9th 2006 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published January 1st 1972)
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  10,226 ratings  ·  403 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
”Sooner or Later,” the author Ed Linn observes, “society beats down the man of muscle and sweat.” Surely these fine athletes, these boys of summer, have found their measure of ruin. But one does not come away from visits with them, from long nights remembering the past and considering the present, full of sorrow. In the end, quite the other way, one is renewed.”

 photo Ebbets20Field_zpsdr2dfydf.jpg

Since the moment I was aware enough to process sounds and know what they mean, I’ve been a Kansas City Royals fan. From opening day
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I see the boys of summer in their ruin
Lay the gold tithings barren,
Setting no store by harvest, freeze the soils.”
-Dylan Thomas

We are approaching Memorial Day. The weather should be heating up soon, and for me nothing epitomizes summer like a baseball game played on a hazy afternoon. Drink in hand on the porch with a radio by one’s side, baseball is the soundtrack of summer. This year there may be no baseball, and, if there is, it will be in abbreviated form only. In order to simulate the bas
Fred Shaw
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Boys of Summer
By Roger Kahn
Kindle edition
5 Stars

The Boys of Summer is the story of the Brooklyn Dodgers when the best came to play baseball: Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Carl Furillo, Gil Hodges, Billy Cox, Roy Campanella, Carl Erskine, Clem Labine, Billy Cox, Jackie Robinson. That’s right sports fans, “Brooklyn Dodgers”. At one time there were 3 MLB clubs in New York City: The Brooklyn Dodgers, played at Ebbets Field, The New York Giants played at the Polo Grounds, and The New York Yankees,
Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2013
You really can't pick a better book to read in the throes of summer, or in any season of life, for that matter. More than a book about baseball or summer, this is a book about living and what makes living so good.

The Boys, ascending from unassuming childhoods and lowly towns, somehow seemed fated to achieve the greatness that was the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1940's and 1950's. And what's more, Roger Kahn, one of the great sports writers that ever lived, was destined to be their chronicler. The B
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to read a baseball book, and this classic about the 1950s Brooklyn Dodgers fit the bill nicely.
Brian Eshleman
Probably the best sports book I ever read. He talked about a year in baseball before mine in a way that was compelling but still realistic.
Aug 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
I requested this book from the library expecting to love it, but the first few pages were so choked with baseball nostalgia of endless days of summer, boys growing to be gods in the green cathedrals of yesteryear, the tragic ending in the bitter days of autumn, blah blah blah. I almost put it down before I got through the intro. But I'm very glad I kept at it, because it ended up being wonderful -- if not at all what I expected when I decided to read it.

I thought I was going to get the story of
Kasa Cotugno
Although I read this over 40 years ago, way before I became a fan, I fell in love with baseball through this book.
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book and since this is coming from someone who dislikes baseball (a lot), that is high praise indeed. I loved the voice in this. It was very "folksy"; it felt personal and the love of the game came through loud and clear. The author was engaging. I liked that this book focused on the players of this early era, more than the sport itself. It also touched on civil rights and the first few African Americans who played major ball.

Sometimes I get to the end of the book and wonder about
Harold Kasselman
Ok, so I finally decided to read "Boys Of Summer" and I'm melancholy. I have just gone through an emotional ride with the epilogue. This is a wonderful book. I was hesitant the first 80 pages to understand why the book was heralded as great and then I understood. The inside look at the life of great sports reporters,the insider voices of Durocher the antagonist and Robinson's responses, the feeling amongst the team when they began to win, the insecurity of the Duke even at his prime,the humorou ...more
Patrick Murtha
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The legendary status of The Boys of Summer is well-deserved - it is unquestionably one of the finest non-fiction sports books ever written. However, be aware: It is the very opposite of a "feel good" read. In fact, I can scarcely remember a book that is so suffocatingly sad. The players of the Brooklyn Dodgers of the early Fifties (as well as a number of others associated with the team in various ways) experienced an unusually high number of foreshortened careers, personal tragedies (especially ...more
Porter Kelly
May 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this in high school. It was on a list of books that we could choose from in my honors English class. Of course, as a lifelong baseball fan, I was very excited to read it. When we went around the room and told the teacher my choice he said, condescendingly, "Now, you know that's a book about baseball and not boys, right?" What a dick.

Anyway, I digress...I loved this book. Seeing "42" made me remember it.
Joy D
Eloquently-written memoir of a time and place, as Roger Kahn takes us through his career in writing in relation to his affection for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the game of baseball. He starts with memories of his childhood, attending baseball games at Ebbets field with his dad, establishing the foundation for his life-long love of the game. He then takes us through his brief but memorable time as a sportswriter for the Brooklyn Dodgers, getting to know the team members personally, and how they and ...more
Aug 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, sports
I tried to read this book when I was much younger (maybe 8th grade?) and couldn't get through it. Now I know why -- it's not a book for a 13-year-old. It's about aging, and disappointment, and nostalgia, and its very good at exploring these emotions through the lens of the Brooklyn Dodgers of the early 1950s. I enjoyed the baseball very much, and also liked the way Kahn wove in both his own life story and the stories of several players, as athletes and as people. It's striking how much the tale ...more
Len Washko
Mar 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very much enjoyed - savored every word, every phrase. I remembered this as a baseball book - having read it as a 16 year old in the seventies. Reading it as a 52 year old man (it was written by a 52 year old man) I find it is not a baseball book at all - but a memoir, a tribute to Kahn's father and family, a sweet remembrance of his initiation as a young beat writer covering the Dodgers, and a lament (and again a tribute) to the his aging childhood heroes... the Jackie Robinson Dodgers. this is ...more
Barnabas Piper
Oct 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nostalgic in the best sense of the word. Kahn paints a picture of one of the great eras in the great eras of baseball. The portraits of Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson are especially gripping. But the best part of the book, at least in my opinion, was the account of his upbringing in Brooklyn with a baseball-loving, intellectual father and a mother who disapproved. He makes the reader feel like it is 1940's new york wherever the book is being read.
Garrett Cash
Too maudlin to take seriously, and focusing on aspects I did not care about, The Boys of Summer (despite being considered one of the greatest sports books of all time) is sorely disappointing. I wished it were better. One hundred pages is taken up recounting the authors growing up in Brooklyn. The next one hundred pages detail his covering the Dodgers, and the last two hundred fifty are a series of extremely similar, dull interviews with all of the players about sixteen years after they played o ...more
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I only managed to read half of this and was forced to stop. It was too painful to read the accounts of these once-great men, reduced to wrack and ruin by the ravages of time. I'll return to it one day but not yet, not yet.
Part memoir, part historical artifact, part group profile, part baseball book. The Boys of Summer is an outstanding read whether you're a fan of the game or not, I'd wager. Like any good long form piece of journalism, it's less about the thing the people do and more about the people themselves.

Broken up into two parts - Roger Kahn starts by detailing what it was like growing up in Brooklyn as a young baseball fan, especially of the Dodgers. He is confessional about his family life - mostly posit
A. Bowdoin Van Riper
I came to The Boys of Summer knowing two things about it: That it was about the fabled Brooklyn Dodgers teams of the early 1950s, and that it had a reputation for being beautifully written. The second is, without a doubt, true; the first is also true, but only incidentally. This is not a book about the Dodgers: It’s a book about growing up, growing old, and other Big Issues, for which the Dodgers act as a touchstone.

The book is divided into three unequal acts: a kaleidoscopic memoir of a Brookly
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, sports
What I disliked about this book: I would NOT agree with those that called this book "America's finest book on sports". I think the problem is... the majority of the book was about "where are they now". When the book was originally published in 1972, most of the readers were very familiar with the players. Now-a-days, the readers are not. I was interested to hear more about the ballplayers as ballplayers and more about how the season went. I've heard that the 1952 World Series was one of the grea ...more
Doreen Petersen
Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
Got close to the end of this book and just couldn't stop until I finished. If you love baseball this is definitely a book for you. It was very well written and brought back priceless memories of baseball history.
Same as the first time I read it . This year's Dodgers was a real disappointment , they need to rebuild their pitching staff (espeially relievers) .
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new-york, history, sports
Classic 1971 baseball memoir about the Brooklyn Dodgers. First part covers the author’s early days as a reporter covering the team. The second part covers “where are they now”, as the author travels the country 15 years after Brooklyn’s final season, visiting the old team and reminiscing. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the second part even more than the first part. It’s as much about mortality and the passage of time as it is about baseball.
Brett W
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is so much more than a baseball book. Loaded with emotionally charged nostalgia It’s about growing up. It’s about fathers and sons. It’s about friendship, adaptation, and outliving our dreams. Loved it.
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.4 stars
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A classic. One of my all time favorite reads, having lived through those days and rooted for Dem Bums myself.
Tom Baker
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book on death, life, success, adversity, fatherhood, and baseball. Kahn is as comfortable talking baseball with Jackie Robinson as he is with Robert Frost - And it’s interesting to think that, via Frost, there is some kind of through line connecting the poetry of Edward Thomas to the poetry of Preacher Roe’s Spitball.
Carl Hatt
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as good as the documentary, but a cool look into Robert Kahn's Brooklyn Dodger fandom as a kid growing up in the burrough and then getting to cover the team in the media. Reading about the players from the team's post WW2 heydey before it moved to LA actually was pretty interesting overall. Check it out if you're into NY sports history
Tim Hoiland
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, sports, history
It lives up to the hype.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Roger Kahn was best known for The Boys of Summer, about the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Articles featuring this book

As this strange summer of staying put winds down, one thing remains truer than ever: Books offer us endless adventure and new horizons to...
52 likes · 29 comments
“You may glory in a team triumphant, but you fall in love with a team in defeat. Losing after great striving is the story of man, who was born to sorrow, whose sweetest songs tell of saddest thought, and who, if he is a hero, does nothing in life as becomingly as leaving it.” 27 likes
“Why do we remember the Boys of Summer? We remember because we were young when they were, of course. But more, we remember because we feel the ache of guilt and regret. While they were running, jumping, leaping, we were slouched behind typewriters, smoking and drinking, pretending to some mystic communion with men we didn't really know or like. Men from ghettos we didn't dare visit, or rural farms we passed at sixty miles an hour. Loving what they did on the field, we could forget how superior we felt towards them the rest of the time. By cheering them on we proved we had nothing to do with the injustices that kept their lives separate from ours. There's nothing sordid or false about the Boys of Summer. Only our memories smell like sweaty jockstraps.” 7 likes
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