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61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Book on Joe DiMaggio's Streak of 56 Games
The first indication I was in for a special treat came from reading the recommendations on the back cover from the likes of Roger Kahn, Richard Ben Cramer, Bob Costas, Tom Verducci, and Leigh Montville. Author Kostya Kennedy has certainly enriched the baseball library with his book entitled 56, in relation to Joe DiMaggio's record-breaking hitting streak in that...
Published on February 26, 2011 by Bill Emblom

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A better than average book that sometimes strays too far from its subject
Whether you "like" or "love" this book will greatly depend on whether you agree with the author's (and editor's) approach. Much of the text considers the environment and era during which DiMaggio had his 56 game hitting streak, as well as the common men and women who were captivated by the streak as it happened. A little of this stuff goes a long way,...
Published 7 months ago by Dante Bacani


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61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Book on Joe DiMaggio's Streak of 56 Games, February 26, 2011
By 
Bill Emblom "Bill Emblom" (Ishpeming, Michigan USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports (Hardcover)
The first indication I was in for a special treat came from reading the recommendations on the back cover from the likes of Roger Kahn, Richard Ben Cramer, Bob Costas, Tom Verducci, and Leigh Montville. Author Kostya Kennedy has certainly enriched the baseball library with his book entitled 56, in relation to Joe DiMaggio's record-breaking hitting streak in that historical year of 1941. Other books have been written about this event, but this book is the one by which all others will be measured.

This is more than a recounting of the games in which the Yankee Clipper swatted his way into the baseball history books. We are also provided with the relationship with his wife, the former Dorothy Arnold who cheered her husband along. When their child was born in October of 1941 things changed between the two partners with a divorce eventually ensuing. The death of Yankee great Lou Gehrig took place on June 2nd during the early stages of the streak, and author Kennedy relates tidbits about Gehrig I hadn't read in numerous other accounts of the Iron Horse. This is also the story of Joe's relationship with brother Dominic, the center fielder of the Boston Red Sox and his superstar teammate Ted Williams who went on to hit an astounding .406 that year.

While DiMaggio may have appeared to be calm and regal as he went about his business during the streak he was churning up inside. The first goal he was to take aim at was George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns who hit in 41 consecutive games in 1922, then came Willie Keeler's streak of 44 consecutive games with the Baltimore Orioles in 1897. DiMaggio also had to deal with the likes of former Yankee pitcher Johnny Babich, who sought revenge on his former team by attempting to walk the streaking DiMaggio rather than let him hit if he could retire him in his first at bat. On his second at bat Joe swung at a bad 3-0 pitch and hit a scalding liner back at Babich for a solid hit to put an end to that strategy.

Author Kennedy takes us back to the year 1941 which belonged to both DiMaggio with his magical 56 and Ted Williams' magical .406. You mention both numbers and any self-respecting baseball fan will immediately know what your are referring to. World War II was raging in Europe, and America would enter in the waning days of that year.

Bits of information are also provided on Willie Keeler that I haven't read in a baseball book since reading The National League Story by the late Hall of Fame historian Lee Allen. Pete Rose's streak is also dealt with along with Rose's post-game career of selling his wares to fans.

Is DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak the ultimate baseball record never to be broken? It certainly added to the mystique of Joe DiMaggio. Will anyone bat .400 again as Teddy Ballgame did in 1941? Both of these events took place in the same year of 1941. DiMaggio was awarded the MVP over Williams, possibly because the Yankees won the pennant. As an aside I might say that Cy Young's 511 victories is the ultimate record never to be broken. A pitcher who won 20 games for 20 years would still be 111 wins short of Cy Young. Certainly with pitchers pitching every 5th day this is highly unlikely to take place.

I did find one minor error in the book. On page 279 the author quotes the words on Lou Gehrig's plaque which was unveiled at Yankee Stadium on July 4th, 1941. The word "former" does not appear on the plaque.

If you are a baseball fan I assure you this book is a gem. Buy it with confidence. I hope author Kostya Kennedy has other historical baseball books to follow. He is an author to keep an eye on.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Step Back in Time in an Amazingly Wonderful Book, March 11, 2011
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This review is from: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports (Hardcover)
As a writer, I generally like to spend a couple of hours reading at night after eight to 10 hours of work a day. Somewhere around 9PM I head to bed to wake up at 5AM the next day.

I am disciplined, hard working...

And I stayed up all of last night and kept reading all of today because Kostya Kennedy's "56" is an outstanding book and one I just couldn't put down. It is like stepping into a time machine, an exciting, thought provoking time machine that took me to a world just before I was born.

This could be the finest sports book I have ever read. Not only does it place all of Joe DiMaggio's streak into historical perspective, a fascinating and well conceived historical perspective but he even gives us a final segment on probability theory and how it relates (or, really, doesn't relate) to what Joe DiMaggio did in 1941.

The final line of the book is memorable.

If you have the least interest in baseball, buy this book right now, today, and stay up all night reading it as I did.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Record That Will Never Be Broken, March 31, 2011
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This review is from: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports (Hardcover)
In the summer of 1941, the United States was preparing for war. Germany had invaded Russia, and Roosevelt was about to put an embargo on oil shipments to Japan. On the home front, two baseball players were about to etch their names in baseball immortality: Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. By the end of the season, Williams compiled a .406 batting average. No one has come close to .400 since then. DiMaggio had a little streak of his own that summer; he hit safely in 56 straight games. In this fine book, author Kostya Kennedy describes that magical baseball summer and how DiMaggio set a standard which, in all likelihood, will never be equaled.

For two straight months, DiMaggio came to the ballpark, and for two straight months, he hit. Some games, he would get his hit in his first at-bat; others, it would be in his final at-bat. There were questionable events along the way that helped keep the streak alive, such as the official scorer ruling a potential error a hit, and an opposing pitcher's decision to go against his manager and pitch to DiMaggio rather than walk him. As the streak grew in length, Joe was mobbed by fans in every stadium he played in, but none more so than Yankee Stadium. After each game, fans would run onto the field and try to steal his cap or pat him on the back (imagine fans trying to do that today). A song was written about Joe by Les Brown that became a big hit.

Finally, in the sweltering heat of July, the Yankees traveled to Cleveland for a series with the Indians. DiMaggio had extended his streak to 56 games, and was looking for more, but he ran up against two fine pitchers, and Ken Keltner, the Indians' 3rd baseman, made two spectacular defensive plays, taking away a sure hit each time. Just like that, the streak ended. But DiMaggio hit in 16 straight games afterward.

I've been a big baseball fan my entire life, and I've read books about Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, but this great book is the best I've read so far. Not only does Kostya Kennedy go into great detail about Joe's streak, he also introduces the reader to Joe's teammates, including Lefty Gomez and Phil Rizzuto. The reader also gets a glimpse into Joe's private life as well. One of the best aspects of the book is Kennedy's "The View From Here" chapters he included. These informative chapters include analysis on DiMaggio's streak as well as Pete Rose's 44-game run in 1978.

I give "56" my highest recommendation. Baseball fans will love this great book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ULTIMATE BOOK ON 1941, March 22, 2011
This review is from: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports (Hardcover)
THIS BOOK ON THE 1941 BASEBALL SEASON
IS THE BEST BOOK I'VE READ ON THE SUBJECT
AND I'VE READ QUITE A FEW OF THEM. IT IS WELL
WRITTEN AND HARD TO PUT DOWN ONCE YOU
START IT. IT REALLY TAKES YOU BACK IN
TIME IN WHAT AMERICA WAS ALL ABOUT THAT
YEAR. THIS IS NOT JUST ANOTHER JOE DIMAGGIO
BOOK. IT IS A MUST READ FOR BASEBALL HISTORIANS!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Perspective of "The Streak", December 20, 2011
This review is from: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports (Hardcover)
More than seventy years have passed since Cleveland third baseman Ken Keltner robbed Joe DiMaggio - not once, but twice with brilliant fielding plays - to put an end to the most fabled "streak" in all of sports: The 56-Game Hitting Streak. Certainly, the fact that the legendary Joe DiMaggio established the record, and that he happened to do it the same year (1941) the equally-legendary Ted Williams happened to hit .406, adds to the mystique.

Kostya Kennedy has compiled this fascinating perspective of DiMaggio's remarkable consistency, and how a nation became captivated with this story as each new milestone was reached. DiMaggio, whose public personna reflected a cool detachment about his on-field performance, was actually quite obsessed with sustaining this streak, and when it finally ended, was quite bummed-out. When teammate Phil Rizzuto tried to console the Yankee Clipper after that fateful day in Cleveland, Joe said he'd just as soon be left alone for a while, then proceeded to borrow a few bucks from Scooter so he could drown his sorrows with a few cocktails at a bar near their hotel.

Kennedy's uniquely detailed account of the way a very human ballplayer who was idolized by millions, accomplished a feat that may never be equalled again; at least, not in any of our lifetimes. It's a truly fascinating story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joltin' Joe, June 19, 2011
This review is from: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports (Hardcover)
"56" is a masterpiece from begining to end. I have read biographies of Joe D. before and they were great. But, this book puts the STREAK in perspective of the season in which the War was starting to heat up in Europe. That backdrop makes it all the more interesting to find out what, exactly, was going through the players' minds all the time that year. I can't imagine the galvanizing effect the streak must have had on a Nation when some other worldly event was in the offing. To read about the other players' attitudes towards Joe is refreshing. Joe is, certainly, revered as a great center fielder. The STREAK, however, makes him an icon. The marriages to Dorothy Arnold and Marilyn Monroe, certainly, don't hurt, either.

I was only three years old when Joe retired, so, naturally, I didn't get to see him play. So much the pity.

I don't know if this is true but, Heinz offered Joe $10,000 if he would have gotten a hit that night in Cleveland. Even if that is hearsay, it makes for a good story.

The odds of something like this ever happening again can't be calculated. I saw Pete Rose try to move into that rarified air. Even at 44, he had a dozen to go. The pressure (internal more than external, I would think) must have been immeasurable.

I would, certainly, recommend "56" to anyone who is, even remotely, interested in the history of baseball. This is a great, great book. A great amount of research must have gone into the making of it.

Doug Brownlee
Cincinnati, OH
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kostya Kennedy hits a home run!!, April 25, 2011
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This review is from: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports (Hardcover)
Having just finished reading Kostya Kennedy's well researched book 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic number in Sports, I had to go right to my computer and write a review. Few who write would spend the time to attend to details like Mr. Kennedy. The book gives recollections of almost every one of the hits during the 56 game streak, but in between it gives excerpts of what is going on in the world and in a beautiful way ties together the events of 1941. It is almost as much a history book as it is a baseball book. I found it interesting how author Kennedy described details of a time at bat whereby Jolten Joe barely got by a game with a hit. For example a ball that took a bad hop as White Sox shortstop Luke Appling tried to field it and was ruled a base hit has to be an intersting part of baseball lore.

If you are the type of person who likes the gritty details of a sports accomplishment, then this book is for you. It also gives the reader a good picture of what the make-up of Joe DiMaggio was and how he handled the pressure of the streak. The researched details in the book should leave little doubt as to the author's dedication to bring out all the things that happened to DiMaggio during this exciting time. There is little doubt that the record will never be broken and Kostay Kennedy can be so proud that he brings to the reading public, for once and for all, the smallest of details of such an outstanding athletic accomplishment.
Norman Jones, Ed.D. author of Growing Up in Indiana: The Culture and Hoosier Hysteria Revisited and Main St. vs. Wall St.: Wake-up Calls for America's Leaders.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book!, April 24, 2011
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This review is from: 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports (Hardcover)
It took a while to get into the book and figure out the writing style but once you break into it you won't stop. This book is like a time machine and pulls you into a era that you never thought. I loved this book and suggest this to anyone who is in love with baseball.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it!, July 6, 2014
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Great read for any baseball fan... Includes historical references while taking you through the 56 game streak and the story of the few who have come anywhere near his record.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never Again!, March 12, 2014
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56 recreates a special summer of major league baseball prior to our entry into WW2. Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak is there to stay - never to be approached because of the advent of hard-throwing middle and closer relief pitchers as well as red-eye travel criss-crossing the country. Author Kostya Kennedy writes an interesting game-by-game accounting that reflects a country on the brink of war. 1941 came alive to those of us not yet born - a time when baseball made front page banner headlines. Not to diminish in any way Joe D's streak, Ted Williams should have been named MVP!
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56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports
56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports by Kostya Kennedy (Hardcover - March 8, 2011)
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