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Jackie Robinson: A Biography Paperback – September 1, 1998

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Jackie Robinson: A Biography + I Never Had It Made: An Autobiography of Jackie Robinson + Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034542655X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345426550
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #306,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In baseball and beyond, 1997 has been the year of Jackie Robinson, the 50th anniversary of his obliteration of the game's color line, and a time to reflect on a marvelous man whose heroism and decency cut far beyond the foul lines. Arnold Rampersad, a Princeton professor who's edited the poetry of Langston Hughes and the essays of Richard Wright, and collaborated with tennis great Arthur Ashe on his powerful memoir Days of Grace, steps up to the plate here with the first truly comprehensive Robinson biography. It's an important accomplishment, ripe with historical and social insight without losing sight of the human being at its core. Thoroughly researched--Rachel Robinson gave the author access to her husband's personal papers--and filled with fascinating new detail, the book, like its subject, consistently takes the extra base, thrilling with its overall skill, depth, and perspective. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The details of an extraordinary life in 20th-century America are brought to life in LeVar Burton's memorable reading of Rampersad's lauded biography (LJ 10/1/97). Robinson was skilled enough, reliable enough, and tough enough mentally and physically to shatter the color barrier in major league baseball. His is the story of all African Americans?to be acceptable by white-controlled society. With the sponsorship of Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Robinson became the trailblazer for people of color in formerly white-dominated professional baseball. This work includes Robinson's acceptance speech on his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Essential for all audio collections.?Cliff Glaviano, Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., Ohio
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It was a year of Fire and also the year of Grace for Jackie Robinson!!
C. Leong
The book reflects the thoroughness of his research and is replete with details taken from interviews, letters and the like.
Peter G. Pollak
One of those great sports books that has covers the trilogy: sport, pop culture and history.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Mike Powers on May 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
In his excellent biography of Brooklyn Dodgers infielder Jackie Robinson, author Arnold Rampersad has painted with a crisp and lively narrative an objective, balanced , and candid portrait of a legend. Here is seen the complex, driven man that was Jackie Robinson, "warts" and all. He was the proud and fiercely determined African American athlete, extraordinarily gifted in at least four sports; a sometimes overly sensitive man who despised racism always fought against it, even in the pre-Civil Rights era of the 1930s and 1940s, and even at the risk of conviction by military court-martial. He used an unconquerable will and ambition to became a football, baseball, basketball and track star at Pasadena Junior College; one of the greatest football running backs in UCLA history, and ultimately, under the guidance of legendary Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey, the first African American professional baseball player of the modern era. Rampersad traces Robinson's struggle against racism during his early Dodger years; it is a poignant and compelling story.
The book also shows the more human side of Robinson: a quiet and sensitive man, and a political activist whose fight for racial equality was consistent throughout his life; a wonderfully loving husband but sometimes distant father; and a businessman of tremendous integrity. At Rampersad's hands, Jackie Robinson is a genuinely heroic and admirable person. This is a book which allows the reader to really get to know its subject. It is one of the finest biographies I've read in many years. Highly recommended!
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33 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Jay Stevens on March 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
Professor's Rampersad's biography of Jackie Robinson is a book that's needed now. It's incredibly informative about the man behind the legend. (I think Roger Angell's blurb sums it up: "[the] book arrives just in time to save the man from his own legend.") However, Rampersad doesn't focus much on Robinson's baseball life, and he seems to be holding back judgment on Robinson despite the opportunities to do so.
Before digging in the dirt, I want to say that this book is crisply written and chock full o' facts about Robinson's life. Rampersad obviously had the full support of Robinson's widow, Rachel, and her views are constantly felt throughout the book. It's almost told from her point of view, in fact, and thus feels like a intimate, loving homage to the man.
But there are some issues and character flaws in Robinson that Rampersad shows or hints at, but never fully explores. For example, we never truly felt the force of the hatred leveled against Robinson during his efforts to integrate baseball. There are a few quick references to name-calling, a couple of pitches thrown his way, but what made Robinson so bitter, what filled him with the hatred that so obviously ate at him later in his career? It's implied, rather than shown, as if it were too terrible even to discuss. On the whole, the chapters on Robinson's baseball career are woefully thin. It's clear that Rampersad is not much of a baseball fan - including a few factual errors about the sport's rules and game play - and it's a shame, because baseball is as much about its stories as it is about its action.
And then there's Robinson's role as Civil Rights' leader, which Rampersad describes, but withholds all judgment on.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 4, 1997
Format: Hardcover
I wasn't a huge baseball fan when I started this book, but I'd heard of Jackie Robinson. I used to think I knew who he was. Well, you don't anything until you read this book! The comforting text inches over every exciting aspect of Jackie Robinson's life. It was written using information that Jackie Robinson's wife provided for the first time. The topics range from rising above racism to sharing personal family experiences. If you love baseball, this book is absolutely for you. However, if you're not really into sports (like me), then you'll still adore this true-life story that seems almost unreal.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. Stewart on May 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
The book "Jackie Robinson: A Biography," is an amazingly descriptive masterpiece of the life of Jackie Robinson. I gained interest in this book following a review that I read that promoted and gave a detailed summary of its contents. After reading this book I found that this review gave an accurate description and evaluation of the book.

Arnold Rampersad was able to successfully portray all aspects of Mr. Robinson's life, from the day he was born to the day of his death. He used association effectively to compare Jackie with other great Americans and to make him the face of the African American people. This book not only focused on the great baseball career he had with the Brooklyn Dodgers, but highlighted his early sports career while in school and the work he did for the community following his playing days.

Some reviewers felt that the author did not accurately show the reader the adversity that Jackie faced in his playing days, when in fact it was repeatedly acknowledged in nearly every game and road trip throughout the book. The author gives great detail to this struggle that affected both Jackie and his supporters.

I encourage anyone with an interest in baseball to read this book, along with anyone who wants to learn about what it takes for even a man as great as Jackie Robinson to make a positive impact on society.

Senior English Student 2010
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