The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson (Paperback)
A New York Times Bestseller
By the author of Showtime—the source for HBO’s Winning Time—the definitive biography of mythic multi-sport star Bo Jackson.
“A legendary tome on a legendary athlete." —Chris Herring, author of Blood in the Garden
From the mid-1980s into the early 1990s, the greatest athlete of all time streaked across American sports and popular culture. Stadiums struggled to contain him. Clocks failed to capture his speed. His strength was legendary. His power unmatched. Video game makers turned him into an invincible character—and they were dead-on. He climbed (and walked across) walls, splintered baseball bats over his knee, turned oncoming tacklers into ground meat. He became the first person to simultaneously star in two major professional sports, and overtook Michael Jordan as America’s most recognizable pitchman. He was on our televisions, in our magazines, plastered across billboards. He was half man, half myth.
Then, almost overnight, he was gone.
He was Bo Jackson.
Drawing on an astonishing 720 original interviews, New York Times bestselling sportswriter Jeff Pearlman captures as never before the elusive truth about Jackson, Auburn University’s transcendent Heisman Trophy winner, superstar of both the NFL and Major League Baseball and ubiquitous “Bo Knows” Nike pitchman. Did Bo really jump over a parked Volkswagen? (Yes.) Did he actually run a 4.13 40? (Yes.) During the 1991 flight that nearly killed every member of the Chicago White Sox, was he in the cockpit trying to help? (Oddly, yes. Or no. Or … maybe.)
Bo Jackson isn’t Jim Thorpe.
He’s not Deion Sanders, either.
No, Bo Jackson is Paul Bunyan.
The Last Folk Hero is the true tale of Bo Jackson that only “master storyteller” (NPR.org) Jeff Pearlman could tell.
About the Author
JEFF PEARLMAN is the New York Times bestselling author of ten books. His subjects include the ’80s Los Angeles Lakers (Showtime), the 1986 New York Mets (The Bad Guys Won), the ’90s Dallas Cowboys (Boys Will Be Boys), and NFL legends Walter Payton (Sweetness) and Brett Favre (Gunslinger). HBO adapted Showtime into the dramatic series Winning Time, produced and directed by Adam McKay. A former Sports Illustrated senior writer and ESPN.com columnist, Pearlman is the host of the Two Writers Slinging Yang podcast and blogs regularly at jeffpearlman.com.
"It's just not possible to write a better biography than The Last Folk Hero, which is Jeff Pearlman's best book yet. And that's saying something." — New York Post
“A tremendous book, impossible to put down, one of the most well-reported books I ever remember reading." — Peter King
“Bo Jackson awed fans with the impossible. The sensational, two-sport, baseball and football superstar has a highlights reel packed with moonshot homers, crazy throws, unstoppable touchdown runs and iconic Nike ads. If you grew up in the 1980s and ’90s, you probably wanted to be like Bo. In The Last Folk Hero, Jeff Pearlman shows us how Vincent Jackson became ‘Bo’ with engrossing reporting that takes us from his early childhood to his athletic apex to that fluke, career-changing injury. Along the way, Pearlman unpacks the real story from the embellishments and myths that seem to grow in each retelling.” — NPR.org
"Pearlman's palpable enthusiasm supercharges descriptions of Mr. Jackson’s at-bats or off-tackle runs. ... Delightful. ... Often hilarious. ... There is surely a throng that will want to read this excellent book." — Wall Street Journal
"No writer in America is better at digging into the truth of the mythical sports star or legendary sports dynasty than Jeff Pearlman, who has done it again with The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson. With a book that races along at the pace of Jackson’s relatively brief but stunning career, Pearlman deftly captures his greatness, corrals his elusiveness, and eventually captures his ultimate disappearance. After soaring and sprinting through this compelling tale of both superman powers and human vulnerability, one can safely say, without question, Pearlman knows Bo." — Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times columnist and panelist on ESPN’s Around the Horn
“A legendary tome on a legendary athlete that was almost too good to be true. Pearlman's research takes us into Bo's cramped childhood home, inside his elementary school classrooms and onto the first muddy fields he ever played on. And in doing so, he gets us closer than we've ever gotten to the truth of who Jackson really was, and how he got to be that way. The book is appointment reading; an undeniable masterclass.” — Chris Herring, New York Times bestselling author of Blood in the Garden: The Flagrant History of the 1990s New York Knicks
"Reading Jeff Pearlman's masterwork about Bo Jackson feels almost as much classic comic as sports biography; his subject more superhuman than star athlete. Pearlman's famously deep reporting has produced a riveting, lightning-fast read about a character and a man, a legend and a life, of the sometimes faint line that separates the stories we tell and the ones that happen to be true. Bo did things no athlete ever had or will again, and he filled a generation of kids with memories and possibilities and what-ifs, and—long after this kid grew up—the notion that Superman might actually be real. This is a book I'll read again and again." — Kent Babb, author of Across the River: Life, Death, and Football in an American City
"As Jeff Pearlman depicts Bo Jackson's life, from neighborhoods in Bessemer to charter jets in Memphis, you begin to wonder whether Pearlman contacted every human being who has ever interacted with Jackson. That's how detailed this book is on a life seemingly so hard to depict. Former classmates, agents, teammates, attorneys and so many others provide an array of vignettes that distinctly portray the human arc of one of sport's most mythical figures." — Alec Lewis, Kansas City Royals beat writer, The Athletic
"Every word was devoured like cornbread and collard greens at a family reunion. Pearlman's beautiful and brilliant work here takes you deep inside the life of America's greatest athlete of all time, but there is so much more to this book. As a child of Birmingham, Alabama, who fell in love with sports in the 1980s thanks to Bo Jackson, I consider this one of the greatest sports biographies ever written." — Joseph Goodman, author of We Want Bama
"A captivating, copiously researched portrait of once-in-a-century supernova Bo Jackson." — Booklist
“A standout addition to biographies of hall-of-fame athletes. Jackson’s fans are in for a treat.” — Publishers Weekly
"An excellent, well-researched biography. . .Highly recommended for all interested in sports." — Library Journal (starred review)
“Far more than a typical sports biography. [The Last Folk Hero] is a complete portrait of an extraordinary athlete and a man with an enduring charisma, as well as a vivid account of the changing social and sports landscapes in which he played. In short, it is an undeniable masterpiece.” — Bookreporter.com
“Every sports book by Jeff Pearlman is a must-read… Pearlman writes as only a great storyteller can – witty, funny, informative, and always insightful. [The Last Folk Hero] is quite simply a joy, as entertaining and enjoyable a sports book as you will find.” — All Sports Book Reviews
"Pearlman tells us everything there is to know about the two-sport star." — Andscape/ESPN
"This is a giant book, thoroughly detailed. ... Pearlman has such a lively, conversational style that reading was not a slog, and the story is nearly unbelievable." — The Tuscaloosa News