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Paperback Joe Dimaggio : The Hero's Life Book

ISBN: 0684865475

ISBN13: 9780684865478

Joe Dimaggio : The Hero's Life

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Book Overview

Joe DiMaggio was, at every turn, one man we could look at who made us feel good. In the hard-knuckled thirties, he was the immigrant boy who made it big--and spurred the New York Yankees to a new era of dynasty. He was Broadway Joe, the icon of elegance, the man who wooed and won Marilyn Monroe--the most beautiful girl America could dream up. Joe DiMaggio was a mirror of our best self. And he was also the loneliest hero we ever had. In this groundbreaking...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Very strong, eye-opening biography

There are some negative reviews on here, and I'm not sure why. Granted this is probably the least sympathetic biography I have ever read. But I thought it was well reported. It was certainly a smooth read and provided a remarkable amount of insight into an iconic figure in American history. DiMaggio was obviously a moody and selfish superstar who was very concerned about his image and legacy in the big picture, but not nearly focused enough on being any kind of a humanitarian. My respect for DiMaggio the ballplayer was only increased by this book, but DiMaggio the individual left a lot to be desired. It's not Cramer's fault that DiMaggio's behavior often ranged from uncooperative to downright nasty. I loved the book.

Life vs. Joltin' Joe.

The private life of the man behind the public image can be a stark contrast. Regardless of Joe DiMaggio's wholesome image of grace, style, and manly courage, doubts and fears plagued him. He needed constant reassurance that he was the best. Author Richard Ben Cramer quickly gets on a first name basis with his subject, and writes as if he knows exactly what went on in Joe's head. Cramer's description of Joe's career as the Yankee Clipper is great baseball history. Cramer also writes honestly of Joe's dark side. To DiMaggio, money was the ultimate yardstick of success. His great fear was that someone was unfairly trying to make a buck by exploiting him, both on and off the field. Frequently, Joe's fears were right on target. These inner demons made DiMaggio personally unapproachable, and even downright hateful. But, heck, that didn't bother Joe. That was exactly the way he wanted it, as long as he was paid top dollar. Cramer's narrative includes juicy insider details and wry humor. Beyond baseball, the book examines DiMaggio's relationship with friends, family, and wives, most particularly Marilyn Monroe. Joe's need to be controlling doomed his marriage to Marilyn. Ironically, they were well on the road to reconciliation when she died. After Marilyn is gone, the narrative fast-forwards from her funeral in 1962 to 1989. This unexplained gap is the only weakness of this otherwise fascinating book. The last ten years of DiMaggio's life are presented as the final decade of a miserly crank who profits from baseball memorabilia events, for which he insisted on his own unforgiving rules and regulations. Considering the walls Joe DiMaggio built around himself the author's ability to dig out details is impressive. Cramer handles a difficult subject very well. This is highly recommended reading. ;-)

Great Book!

When I first received the book, I didn't read it for a couple of days, fearful that there would be things written there that would cause me not to like Mr. DiMaggio as much. But read it I did, and I highly recommend it, as it seems fair-minded and honest. As a matter of fact, I think even more fondly of Mr. DiMaggio after reading the book than I did before. It is good, I think, to know that our hero's are human and fallible, and can still reach the top, and do it with dignity and class. Pick yourself up, get on with it, and let no body run you over. When I think of a "class act", I'll always think of Joe DiMaggio!

A Great American Life

As a lifelong New York Yankees fan, I grew up revering Joe DiMaggio. I knew his lifetime statistics, the pitcher he started his epic hitting streak against (Edgar Smith), and the pitchers who ended it (Al Smith and Jim Bagby, with fielding help from Ken Keltner). But it wasn't until reading Cramer's brilliant biography that I realized I didn't know a thing about Joltin' Joe.What a life the man led! And what a portrait of the American Century this book presents. So many of the great national themes make an appearance: immigration, war, Hollywood, the rise of television, the tragedies of the Sixties, the Mafia, privacy v. celebrity-- and linking everything together, the national pasttime, a game this man played better than just about anyone. As the first Subway Series in 44 years gets underway, it's a fitting time to pay tribute to the great, elegant Yankee, a lonely man who made millions happy.Bravo to Richard Ben Cramer for having the talent and the stamina to write such a good book about such a complex man.

A Jolting Biography

This book has already stirred up controversy over Cramer's portrayal of DiMaggio and no doubt that controversy will continue for quite some time. I have been a lifelong baseball fan and consider DiMaggio to be among the greatest of those who played the game. He combined natural ability in the five key skill areas (ie hitting, fielding, throwing, base running, and bunting) with a style and grace few others have. Also he was a winner, playing on nine world championship Yankee teams during a 13-year period. No one doubts the on-field achievements of "Jolting Joe." The controversy generated by this book is explained, rather, by Cramer's comments about DiMaggio off the field and especially after he retired. According to Cramer, DiMaggio was unapproachable to anyone who could not (one way or another) feed his ego, increase his wealth, enhance his lifestyle, or protect his carefully crafted self-image. Throughout most of his life, DiMaggio seemed to ask "What's in it for me?" He not only craved but indeed required treatment normally reserved for heads of state. According to Cramer, he had very few close personal relationships (none with family members) and these were sustained only when in full compliance with the terms and conditions he established. DiMaggio trusted very few people, suspecting that anyone who tried to approach him had ulterior, self-serving motives. There is an old saying about "knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing." DiMaggio knew both.One critic has suggested that Cramer is "hostile" to DiMaggio. Another critic has described this book as a "hatchet job." Cramer indicates no doubt about DiMaggio's greatness as a baseball player. That was one game he played superbly. Cramer also seems to have no doubt about another game DiMaggio played in his private life and in his post-baseball career. This second game also had very strict rules set by DiMaggio, rules with which he insisted that everyone else comply. Re Cramer's attitude toward this DiMaggio, I am reminded of Harry Truman who once observed "I just tell them the truth and they think it's hell." After reading this book, you may conclude that Cramer is "hostile", that he has done a "hatchet job" on the Yankee Clipper. Or perhaps you will agree with me that Cramer has accumulated as much information as he could and then portrayed DiMaggio as fully and as honestly as he could. My guess (only a guess) is that Cramer's DiMaggio would not have objected to this biography if he received at least half (but preferably all) of the royalties from copies sold. No matter what Cramer or anyone else may say about DiMaggio's human imperfections (eg greed and vanity), he played the game of baseball with skills, style, and grace which -- like his 56-game hitting streak -- may never be surpassed.
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