Loren Kantor's Reviews > Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life

Joe DiMaggio by Richard Ben Cramer
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U 50x66
's review
Sep 08, 2011

really liked it

This book is as much about what it means to be a "hero," as it is about Dimaggio's life. Joe came to represent everything that was great about America. Courage, strength, grace, gallantry. His rise as a superstar baseball player covered the period from the Great Depression to Post WWII and like America, he rose above his own poverty to reach a worldly success unheard of before him. He also vicariously represented the dreams of immigrants throughout the country.
But his post baseball life did not go well. Graceful and effortless on the outside he was a scheming, machievellian control-freak on the inside. He dominated everyone around him, froze out those who didn't bend to his will and showed little kindness to anyone in his fold (including his only son and his ex-wife). By the time Marilyn Monroe died (his one true love who he routinely beat during their time together), he shut out all his old friends and hid away in his childhood home in San Francisco.
This is a sad tale but a well-written one. Joe's inevitable end--alone and surrounded by sycophants--is karmically appropriate.
The only weak point of the book is that the author presumes to know Joe's motivations at all times. Cramer (the author) does a good job humanizing Joe and portraying the man behind the hero myth, but by book's end it's impossible not to be depressed and disappointed in the life of Joe Dimaggio.

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