The Last Hero (eBook)
The Last Hero (eBook)
In the thirty-four years since his retirement, Henry Aaron’s reputation has only grown in magnitude: he broke existing records (rbis, total bases, extra-base hits) and set new ones (hitting at least thirty home runs per season fifteen times, becoming the first player in history to hammer five hundred home runs and three thousand hits). But his influence extends beyond statistics, and at long last here is the first definitive biography of one of baseball’s immortal figures.
Based on meticulous research and interviews with former teammates, family, two former presidents, and Aaron himself, The Last Hero chronicles Aaron’s childhood in segregated Alabama, his brief stardom in the Negro Leagues, his complicated relationship with celebrity, and his historic rivalry with Willie Mays—all culminating in the defining event of his life: his shattering of Babe Ruth’s all-time home-run record.
Bryant also examines Aaron’s more complex second act: his quest to become an important voice beyond the ball field when his playing days had ended, his rediscovery by a public disillusioned with today’s tainted heroes, and his disappointment that his career home-run record was finally broken by Barry Bonds during the steroid era, baseball’s greatest scandal.
Bryant reveals how Aaron navigated the upheavals of his time—fighting against racism while at the same time benefiting from racial progress—and how he achieved his goal of continuing Jackie Robinson’s mission to obtain full equality for African-Americans, both in baseball and society, while he lived uncomfortably in the public spotlight. Eloquently written, detailed and penetrating, this is a revelatory portrait of a complicated, private man who through sports became an enduring American icon.
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Howard Bryant is the author of Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston, which was a finalist for the Society for American Baseball Research’s 2003 Seymour Medal, and Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power, and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball. He is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine; appears regularly on ESPN’s The Sports Reporters, ESPN First Take, and Outside the Lines; and serves as sports correspondent for NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. He lives in western Massachusetts.
Visit the author’s website at: www.howardbryant.net.
Praise for The Last Hero…
“Beautifully written and culturally important . . . tells the Aaron story with gusto and a ferocious sweep. . . . Bryant may just have given us a classic.”
—The Washington Post
“Illuminating and rigorously researched.”
—New York Times Book Review
“A welcome and long-overdue portrait . . . thoughtful, insightful and deeply engaging. . . . It easily stands as one of the most impressive profiles of a ballplayer in years.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Bryant is a great writer for a great subject. . . . Mr. Aaron’s story is the epic baseball tale of the second half of the 20th century.”
—Atlanta Journal Constitution
“Impressive. . . . Nuanced. . . . For baseball junkies, The Last Hero offers enough about ballplayers of the era and the game to amply satisfy. But fortunately this book offers more. This is not mere hagiography. This is the tale of a man performing in the public eye, laboring under a persona projected by others with preconceptions of their own, but who gradually moves forward in his quest for self-determination.”
—Bill Nowlin, The Boston Globe
“Brawny. . . . The Last Hero had the forceful sweep of a well-struck essay as much as that of a first-rate biography.”
—The New York Times
“The best baseball biography to come along in years, a work that fuses the storytelling acumen of a David Halberstam with the sensitivity for race and sport embodied by writers such as Dave Zirin and William Rhoden. . . . For readers eager to know the man behind the numbers and the footage, Bryant hits one out of the park.”
—The Bay State Banner
“Perfect for the sports fan and the history buff.”
—Good Morning America
“No one was more important to the game of baseball in the last half of the 20th century than Henry Aaron and no one writes about that supremely talented man, that tumultuous time and this treasure of a game better than Howard Bryant. Together, they are an extraordinary combination, and the book Bryant has written gets to the heart of the complicated and dignified, patient and consistent genuine hero that is Henry Aaron.”
“Marvelous. . . . Wrists, legs, heart, brain—here is the full picture of a great man and ballplayer who finally gets his due.”
—David Maraniss, author of Clemente
“There will surely be other books on Hank; there may never be a better book on Henry Aaron than Bryant’s The Last Hero.”
“A fascinating and at times a troubling book, which revivified the lovely old game for me.”
“A must read for baseball fans of every generation.”
“We already know Henry Aaron as one of the greatest players in the history of baseball. Now, in Howard Bryant’s impeccably researched and nuanced biography, we know Henry Aaron not just as a great ballplayer, but as a remarkable man. In The Last Hero Bryant asks the hard questions and cuts through the myths to create a timeless and unflinching portrait of an American icon and his times. And as in any great biography, in learning about Aaron’s life we also learn something about our own.”
—Glenn Stout, series editor, The Best American Sports Writing