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Publisher's Summary

Jane Leavy, the acclaimed author of the New York Times best seller Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy, returns with a biography of an American original: number 7, Mickey Mantle. Drawing on more than 500 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 1961 - the 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.

"I believe in memory, not memorabilia," Leavy writes in her preface. But in The Last Boy, she discovers that what we remember of our heroes - and even what they remember of themselves - is only where the story begins.

©2010 Jane Leavy (P)2010 Jane Leavy and HarperCollins Publishers

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What listeners say about The Last Boy

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

The Man Behind the Myth

When I was 12, I became a Yankee fan and caught the tail end of Mickey Mantle's career. I knew of him as one of the greats, but was also aware he had many flaws. This book tells the story of a man who had the potential to be the best and seemed to have it all - but due to circumstances never lived up to this true potential. This is not a baseball story, but the story of a tragic hero who never really understood why people liked him so much.

10 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Exceptional - a real must read for baseball fans

And a real must read for those of us who came of age in the era of "The Micks" pivotal years. I appreciate that Jane Leavy didn't glorify Mantle in her book-she wrote the truth-both the good and the terrible, the heartbreak of a man who's body was worn down by the sport he loved and who finally found himself - the real Mickey Mantle.

I grew up in a Dodger family..my parents were from New York, transplants to Los Angeles in the 40s....we listened to baseball all spring and summer-didn't matter who was playing-our big multi band radio was tuned in to a baseball game. When the Yankees played USC pre season in 1951, my dad had 2 tickets and I got to go..I saw the home run that was the start of Mantles baseball life and I got an autograph in my pink autograph book..and as an awkward 11 year old girl with her own mitt, I never forgot the way he smiled at me and said "Girls can't play baseball!". I developed my first crush...Mickey was it for me. Rooting for the Yankees was as bad as it could be in my family but I spent the next 35 years following my hero.

This book is great for those of us who never saw the dark side of Mickey Mantle and for baseball fans who didn't experience the game when it was played for fun-before the big salaries and bonuses, when kids played until dark on vacant lots or at school yards.

The writing and story and wonderfully done, though I wasn't really impressed with the narration. Still, like all personal histories it's about the person. This book is better than the several other Mantle books I've written-it's honest and doesn't glorify Mantles bad disposition or sexist ways-things that were never printed in newspapers back then. There was a protection of sorts around sports heroes and politics in the middle years of the country.

A must hear for sports fans of any era.

9 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

What a life. Drop the drawl.

A fascinating, unflinching biography. Jane Leavy takes on the life story of a childhood hero (hers and millions of others) and does him the honor of telling the truth. Paradoxically, by demystifying The Mick, she succeeds in bringing us closer to him, by helping us understand his frailties and humanity. This is a great biography -- the Mick's story for grown ups.

The two voices in the Audible version -- hers for an introduction and the recounting of a weekend-long interview, his for chapters recounting Mantle's life -- works well. My only complaint is John Bedford Lloyd's choosing to speak all of the quotations attributed to Mantle in a faux country drawl. So what if Mantle spoke with a drawl. The insistence of calling attention to it persistently comes off as patronizing, almost ridiculing. Is Mantle the only person quoted in this whole book who spoke with an accent? The voice attributed to Mantle is a major distraction and, for me, a significant flaw in this Audible version.

Still, Jane Leavy's thorough research and excellent writing make this book well worth listening to, even with the drawl.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ed
  • 01-24-11

A tragic hero

Leavy provides a personal and well researched insight into the Mick. She also provides a very interesting insight into the culture of the 50's and 60's which allows the reader to better understand why Mantle was personally out of control. A very well written biography of the painful inner truth of a great baseball hero.

4 people found this helpful

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Reality bites

An American story well told. Hard to hear disturbing details of a childhood hero, but in some ways I appreciate the Mick even more. The book evokes sympathy, laughter, and a tear or two. I feel like I understand him better. Great combination of baseball and life. Baseball fans will enjoy it, and students of human nature and family dynamics will gain from it too.

2 people found this helpful

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I didn't realize what a legend Mickey Mantle was.

For someone who didn't grow up in Mantle's baseball era I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I learned so much about how the game was played back then and about Mantle himself. thank you for writing this book. I was sad when it ended.

1 person found this helpful

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Mickey fan

long listen but worth it if you are a fan of baseball or the mick

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The Last Party Boy

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. It is a great listen (read) if you like sports especially baseball.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Last Boy?

Mickey played hard and partied hard.

Have you listened to any of Jane Leavy and John Bedford Lloyd ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It was very sad at the end.

Any additional comments?

There were no punches pulled in this book.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Cooperstown

What a story. I loved how the voice for Jane Leavy's perspective was worked into the audio. She set the tone early for the kind of experience we were getting into with this read and by the end I felt like I was in the room watching her experience that time with Mick to write this book, The Last Boy, America's past time.

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So Depressing

Like many others of my generation, I remember Mickey Mantle as one of the best baseball players of my youth. I think that most of us later realized generally that Mantle (and others with the Yankees of that period) had a problem with alcohol and led a pretty hard and fast life, but this book demonstrates we did not know the half of it.

If you are looking for an uplifting story of "The Boys of Summer," this is not for you. One gets the impression that Leavy intended to write an honest, but "warts and all," story of one of her childhood heroes. As she dug into Mickey's life, however, it seems that she found many more warts than even she anticipated (and as a sports writer, she probably knew a lot more than the rest of us already).

Although the book demonstrates that Mantle was a singular talent, one can only wonder what he would have done if he had not been severely injured in his rookie season, or if he had lived only a moderately hard life. Given the way he lived, what he achieved is just a little short of miraculous.

Assuming Leavy's research is accurate (and it appears to be), Mantle is hardly a hero. He treated many people (including Leavy) very badly. He probably treated his wife and kids the worst. There are excuses that can be offered, but they ring pretty hollow.

This book is honest, but depressing. It is strangely organized around a series of vignettes from Mantle's life. This odd way of approaching the subject does not help anything.

There have been some criticisms of the narration, but I thought it was pretty decent.

Would I have spent seventeen hours listening to this if I had known about it in advance? As Mick would probably have said, "Nah ..." (or something more colorful).

If you are interested in the morbid details of a somewhat depressing life, this is for you. If not, I would skip it.