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

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3.96  ·  Rating details ·  6,073 ratings  ·  529 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
Hardcover, 456 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Harper
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Katie
Apr 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Sebastien
Aug 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Pretty good overall. Sometimes choppy, especially when you get these deep dives analyzing the home run physics and controversy around Mantle's moonshots and how far they traveled. A lot of mythology surrounding that stuff. I don't mind it once or twice but it felt like Leavy analyzed so many home runs and got into senseless minutiae... One or two examples are fine, but beyond that it got excessive.

Otherwise nice insight into Mantle as a player and as a person. You could call him a majestic and
...more
Ron
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Mahlon
Apr 16, 2016 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.
...more
Steven Peterson
Dec 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
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. . . .
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 rated it really liked it
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
Chris McClinch
Jun 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 rated it liked it
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
Bob
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
Summary: A biography of the life of Mickey Mantle, covering his family roots, baseball career, and post-career life, including his injuries, alcoholism, affairs, and something of a redemption at the end of his life.

Every summer, I read at least one baseball book, and so when I received this book as a gift earlier this year, I knew what my book would be this year, not that I would need much persuading. Mickey Mantle was one of my childhood heroes, even though, as an Indians fan, he played for the
...more
Ed
Dec 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Kenneth Garrett
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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! ...more
Stephen Hoogerhyde
Jul 08, 2021 rated it liked it
Mickey Mantle (I mean, come on, it's almost a name out of central casting for a baseball player) was an iconic figure when I was young. At the top of his game, in 1956, he won the Triple Crown and was named Major League Player of the Year by Sporting News. He had arguably one of the best years in baseball history that year. Perhaps Boston Red Sox pitcher Frank Sullivan said it best; when asked how he pitched to Mantle, he said "with tears in my eyes".

What I didn't realize until reading this book
...more
Greg
May 15, 2018 rated it liked it
The author tells us that Howard Johnsons only named one of their hotels after a person: "Mickey Mantle's Howard Johnson." Then, hilariously, Leavy writes about a superstar get together at "Donald Trump's Taj Mahal" as if we are supposed to be impressed. We are not, but we laughed at this very dated (and only 8-years-old) reference. "A Superstar's Highway to Hell" is an oft told tell. But this time around, I'm more of a fan of Mantle than before. His rise was truly spectacular, especially given a ...more
Heather
Oct 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ob
Meandering, and unfocused. I learned quite a bit about Mickey Mantle the ballplayer and Mickey Mantle the person, but it was a hard slog once his playing days were over. I am hoping her Koufax book is more focused.
Doctor Moss
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think the most interesting thing about Jane Leavy's book is the play between Mickey Mantle, the real person, and Mickey Mantle, the hero, and how that play involves us, his admirers. Mantle was Jane Leavy's hero when she was a child. She is a year older than me, so I can relate to the time of her childhood. Mantle was everybody's hero. To us as kids, in the early 60s, he really was that "All American" character -- he had that big, innocent looking smile that just said everything was great! He ...more
Mark Miano
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of my favorite books as young boy was a biography about Mickey Mantle. I checked it out of the little town library we used to go to in Bridgewater, CT, and became utterly obsessed with the story, reading and re-reading it 15 times. I was always a Yankees fan growing up, but Mantle's final game was in 1968, when I was all of one-year-old, so it's not as if I ever saw him play. Still, Mantle's story transfixed me. Now after reading Jane Leavy's marvelous biography, THE LAST BOY: MICKEY MANTLE ...more
Patrick
Mar 09, 2011 rated it liked it
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
...more
Carol Storm
Apr 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Luke Koran
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball, favorites
As with her previous work on documenting the life of Sandy Koufax, Jane Leavy does a tremendous job of showcasing the complete story of another baseball legend in "The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood." Leavy gives the reader a mostly-definitive biography of The Mick, as his personal life both during and after his baseball career, along with his emotional journey through alcoholism and cancer in his final two years, are well-covered and hit home. The layout of this biog ...more
Paul
Nov 30, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Rick
Jun 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Chris Witt
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Scott
Feb 09, 2012 rated it liked it
I'd like to be able to say that Mickey comes off well in this biography by Leavy, but he doesn't. It's also not the best of baseball books, although there are more than a few stories. Mostly, though, the Mick seems to be portrayed as he was: a drunken baseball player who acted like a jerk off the field. Holes are poked in the legend and not filled in sufficiently to leave the man whole. It's accurate, but I can't say I'd recommend it for someone looking to idolize Mantle or his heyday in basebal ...more
Eric Ryan
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
really like that the author didn't shy away from the ugly parts of Mantle off the field. good book about a player I never saw. ...more
bob walenski
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mickey Mantle was a great baseball player, but I never realized how troubled he was. His big smile and confident attitude hid his demons, and despite playing his entire career in various degrees of crippling injury, established himself as one of the icons of the game he loved. But his relationship with his father, his marriage, his drinking and carousing, his inability to cope with fame and success each took a huge toll on Mick. He died way too young, broken and remorseful, leaving behind a mou ...more
Anup Sinha
Mar 05, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I’d have to call this the definitive biography of Mickey Mantle. Jane Leavy is becoming the McCullough/Chernow/Kearns-Goodwin of baseball biographers, in my mind.

Her research and her narration is exceptional; Leavy doesn’t just tell the story but she goes into the backstories and her timing is impeccable. This book was a slow read for me not because it was dull but because there was so much good information in every paragraph.

Many of us baseball fans are in awe of Mickey Mantle; his un-Godly at
...more
Chickens McShitterson
Jun 01, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, baseball
Jane Leavy can write a freaking baseball book.

Mantle is...tragic. What could he have become without the horrendous knee injury at such a young age (fuck you, Joe Dimaggio- I always thought he was a prick, this confirms it)? Without a crippling addiction to alcohol? Without a traumatic upbringing? The mind reels.

Sure, Mantle was a less-than-savory character in many ways, and while there is no excuse for some of the things he did, there is definitely a deep-seated reason for his behavior at times
...more
Sera
Aug 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this biography about Mickey Mantle. Mantle was a great baseball player but like a number of great people had struggles with his parents growing up, which led to self-esteem and substance abuse issues throughout his life. The book also goes into depth about all of the injuries that Mantle had, which impeded his ability to be an even more successful baseball player. He wasn't a very good husband or father, and he could be very insulting and crude to women. Leavy defintely doesn't ...more
Jane Angle
Apr 05, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Loved every minute of this. A heart-ripper. I love that he never divorced his wife, and that his longtime mistress wasn't allowed into the funeral! "Yesterday, When I was Young" was performed by Roy Clark. ...more
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Jane Leavy is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Last Boy, Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy and the comic novel Squeeze Play, which Entertainment Weekly called “the best novel ever written about baseball.” Her latest book is The Big Fella. 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 basebal ...more

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Anne Lamott, the beloved writer of memoirs including Bird by Bird and Traveling Mercies, once said, “You own everything that happened to you....
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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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