Jsavett1's Reviews > The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood

The Last Boy by Jane Leavy
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's review
Nov 16, 2011

really liked it

I gave this book four stars no so much because I can explain the ways in which it's impressive, but because of the very fact that I finished it. While I read it on my Kindle, I think this book might be just about 400 pages; prior to reading it, I knew almost nothing about Mickey Mantle other than the fact that he was a Yankee and that SO many New Yorkers like Billy Crystal and such ADORE him. I wanted to see what all the adulation was about and was attracted to this book in particular because of the fine reviews it got and because of the title which reminded me of Simon and Garfunkel's famously melancholy query about Joltin' Joe's whereabouts. So I learned a lot. The book is painfully honest about The Mick's unsavory personality, ethics, and familial loyalty. What emerges is a biography of a fractured and tortured human being who played hero to those people who needed him to (except those closest to him). In that sense, like the title suggests, Mantle is a microcosm of the country during his era: yearning for affirmation from previous generations but mercilessly caught in the riotous change of the 50s and 60s present. I'm not sure that readers who have no interest in baseball will be able to get through this as there IS much description of particular games and scenarios. One last thing: bravo to the author for organizing the book in such a non-traditional manner: rather than simply tell Mantle's story chronologically, she chooses 10 (I believe) specific dates of his life as windows into his larger story.
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Peter Gephardt I haven't finished yet, but I have to concur. I didn't know much about Mantle beyond the statistics as well. I knew a little bit about "Ball Four," but I really wasn't interested in Mantle or the hero worship associated with him. The author got past that and exposed an engaging story.

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