The Immortal Life of Ted Williams
By Ben Bradlee,
(Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316614351, 864pp.)
Publication Date: December 3, 2013
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At long last, the epic biography Ted Williams deserves--and that his fans have been waiting for.
Williams was the best hitter in baseball history. His batting average of .406 in 1941 has not been topped since, and no player who has hit more than 500 home runs has a higher career batting average. Those totals would have been even higher if Williams had not left baseball for nearly five years in the prime of his career to serve as a Marine pilot in WWII and Korea. He hit home runs farther than any player before him--and traveled a long way himself, as Ben Bradlee, Jr.'s grand biography reveals. Born in 1918 in San Diego, Ted would spend most of his life disguising his Mexican heritage. During his 22 years with the Boston Red Sox, Williams electrified crowds across America--and shocked them, too: His notorious clashes with the press and fans threatened his reputation. Yet while he was a God in the batter's box, he was profoundly human once he stepped away from the plate. His ferocity came to define his troubled domestic life. While baseball might have been straightforward for Ted Williams, life was not.
THE KID is biography of the highest literary order, a thrilling and honest account of a legend in all his glory and human complexity. In his final at-bat, Williams hit a home run. Bradlee's marvelous book clears the fences, too.
Ben Bradlee, Jr., spent 25 years at the Boston Globe as a reporter and editor, overseeing as deputy managing editor, among many critically acclaimed stories, the Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"Bradlee's sumptuous biography details an extraordinary American life while showing us how that life morphed into legend. The Kid reads like an epic, starting before Williams's birth in 1918, outlining his Anglo and Mexican heritage growing up in Southern California, and continuing after his death in 2002 to the present. Bradlee has given us the fullest exploration yet of his monumental ego and the best explanation for his vast inferiority complex....The book is packed with great moments." ---Allen Barra, Boston Globe
"What distinguishes Bradlee's The Kid from the rest of Williams lit is, its size and the depth of its reporting. Bradlee seemingly talked to everyone, not just baseball people but Williams's fishing buddies, old girlfriends, his two surviving wives and both of his daughters, and he had unparalleled access to Williams family archives. His account does not materially alter our picture of Williams the player, but fills it in with much greater detail and nuance....Bradlee's expansiveness enables his book to transcend the familiar limits of the sports bio and to become instead a hard-to-put-down account of a fascinating American life. It's a story about athletic greatness but also about the perils of fame and celebrity, the corrosiveness of money and the way the cycle of familial resentment and disappointment plays itself out generation after generation." ---Charles McGrath, New York Times Book Review
"Superb....Ted Williams hated what he considered invasions of his privacy, but perfectionist that he was, he would probably have to concede that the work ethic that underpins The Kid is exemplary. Mr. Bradlee, who was a reporter and editor at the Boston Globe for 25 years, spent 10 years researching and writing this book; he interviewed about 600 people and seems to have read everything about and by Williams. But research alone doesn't make The Kid a first-rate biography. The author was able to organize the great mass of data into a lucid and readable whole and-most important-bring his subject and the people around him to provocative and stormy life. When I began reading this book, I thought that only baseball fans would find it interesting. But after finishing The Kid, I suspect that even those indifferent to the sport might find its human drama absorbing." ---Howard Schneider, Wall Street Journal
"Fun to read....The prose is breezy, the research and reporting are impeccable....This book very much sets out to be the definitive document of a great, complicated, fascinating person and ultimately, it succeeds....The context Bradlee provides---the heavy detailing, the quotes and anecdotes---brings the reader inside Williams's psychology, to the extent that that's possible....You're happy for everything you've learned in this giant book. Because it has portrayed the man in full." ---Dave Bry, Slate
"Fans seeking a complete picture of the beloved star who inspired a slew of nicknames now have but one place to turn. This complex figure comes to life in The Kid, an absorbing 854-page biography by longtime Boston Globe reporter and editor Ben Bradlee Jr. Based on some 600 interviews that reflect more than a decade of research, this is surely the definitive Ted Williams book....Bradlee's brilliant account is required reading for any Red Sox fan. It's also a fascinating portrait of a complex character that a baseball agnostic or even a Yankees fan will find hard to put down." ---Jerry Harkavy, Associated Press
"A work of obvious journalistic muscle and diligence, The Kid provides documentary evidence on every page to bolster the book's presumption that Williams was, to use the cliché, larger than life....Mr. Bradlee writes a graceful sentence and crafts a cogent paragraph. His authorial attitude is one of restraint, generally letting the flood of his facts and quotations from interviews speak for themselves." ---Bruce Weber, New York Times
"Required reading." ---Billy Heller, New York Post