The Last Boy
The Last Boy
Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood
Harper, Hardcover, 9780060883522, 480pp.
Publication Date: October 12, 2010
Jane Leavy, the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy, returns with a biography of an American originalnumber 7, Mickey Mantle. Drawing on more than five hundred interviews with friends and family, teammates, and opponents, she delivers the definitive account of Mantle's life, mining the mythology of The Mick for the true story of a luminous and illustrious talent with an achingly damaged soul.
Meticulously reported and elegantly written, The Last Boy is a baseball tapestry that weaves together episodes from the author's weekend with The Mick in Atlantic City, where she interviewed her hero in 1983, after he was banned from baseball, with reminiscences from friends and family of the boy from Commerce, Oklahoma, who would lead the Yankees to seven world championships, be voted the American League's Most Valuable Player three times, win the Triple Crown in 1956, and duel teammate Roger Maris for Babe Ruth's home run crown in the summer of 1961the same boy who would never grow up.
As she did so memorably in her biography of Sandy Koufax, Jane Leavy transcends the hyperbole of hero worship to reveal the man behind the coast-to-coast smile, who grappled with a wrenching childhood, crippling injuries, and a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. In The Last Boy she chronicles her search to find out more about the person he was and, given what she discovers, to explain his mystifying hold on a generation of baseball fans, who were seduced by that lopsided, gap-toothed grin. It is an uncommon biography, with literary overtones: not only a portrait of an icon, but an investigation of memory itself. How long was the Tape Measure Home Run? Did Mantle swing the same way right-handed and left-handed? What really happened to his knee in the 1951 World Series? What happened to the red-haired, freckle-faced boy known back home as Mickey Charles?
"I believe in memory, not memorabilia," Leavy writes in her preface. But in The Last Boy, she discovers that what we remember of our heroesand even what they remember of themselvesis only where the story begins.
“The Last Boy is something new in the history of the histories of the Mick. It is hard fact, reported by someone greatly skilled at that craft...and presented so that the reader and not the author draws nearly all the conclusions.”
-Keith Olberman, The New York Times Book Review
“Every kid growing up in New York in the ‘50s wanted to be Mickey Mantle, including me.... Jane Leavy has captured the hold he had on all of us in this gripping biography.”
-Joe Torre, bestselling author and former manager of the New York Yankees
“Leavy shows Mantle at his unfathomable worst and unrecognized best. For even the most ardent Mantleologist, The Last Boy, is an education.”
“This is one of the best sports biographies I have ever read. Beautifully written and thoroughly researched, it reveals with stunning insight both the talents and the demons that drove Mickey Mantle, bringing him to life as never before.”
-Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Team of Rivals
“Do not walk—sprint—to the bookstore to get a copy of The Last Boy.”
“In sharp detail and graceful style, Leavy cuts through the myth and treats us to a rarely known Mantle: more flawed, more human and more likeable. A terrific read.”
-Tom Verducci, Co-author of the #1 bestseller The Yankee Years
“The only thing about this book that is better than Jane Leavy’s vivid prose is her astonishing reporting. To my knowledge, no one has ever investigated the life of an American athlete with Leavy’s rigor and thoroughness.”
-Daniel Okrent, author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition and Nine Innings
“The Last Boy is stunning. Jane Leavy captures the beautiful, imperfect Mickey Mantle with equal measures of depth and empathy. She finds the buried answers to the riddle of what drove and haunted the Mick.”
-David Maraniss, author of Clemente and Lombardi: When Pride Still Mattered
“Engrossing.… The Last Boy is a fresh, thorough examination of Mickey Mantle’s life.”
-New York Newsday
“[The Last Boy] is a tale deftly told, rich in detail, unvarnished and unsparing, researched to a fare-thee-well, alternatively fluid and florid, and without staleness because Leavy has found a new angle from which to come at a well-worked-over subject.”
“Part biography, part memoir, and part fan’s note, The Last Boy is the most complete book ever about Mantle.”
“Candid, compassionate...the best of the Mantle biographies.”
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“With storytelling bravado and fresh research...[in] Leavy’s hands, the life of Mantle no longer defies logic. She hits a long home run.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A masterpiece of sports biography.”
-Booklist (starred review)