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Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil (Icons of America) Hardcover – March 8, 2011

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Product Details

  • Series: Icons of America
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First edition (March 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300123280
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300123289
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,485,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This is the first book any DiMaggio fan should read."—Allen Barra, San Francisco Chronicle
(Allen Barra San Francisco Chronicle)

"Jerome Charyn applies his considerable skills as a novelist to exploring the gnawing mysteries surrounding a man who 'was brutal in his devotion to the game.'"—Sam Roberts, New York Times (Sam Roberts New York Times)

“Jerome Charyn is one of the most important writers in American literature and one of only three now writing whose work makes me truly happy to be a reader." — Michael Chabon

(Michael Chabon)

“Charyn […] is an American treasure….  Among this book’s virtues are brilliant passages of impassioned writing, […] and Charyn’s mastery of the popular culture in which baseball legends belong and thrive.”—Neil D. Isaacs, author of The Great Molinas and  All the Moves

(Neil D. Isaacs)

"An intimate and compassionate meditation on DiMaggio which, while elegantly dissecting his genius on the field, does him the equally important honor of placing no more on his shoulders than he can reasonably bear. Charyn reminds us that everything about DiMaggio was extraordinary, including his limitations."—David Margolick, author, Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink.
(David Margolick)

"Jerome Charyn's meditation on Joe DiMaggio elegantly explores what DiMaggio meant to America and the price he paid for making it all look so damn easy."—Randy Roberts, Distinguished Professor of History, Purdue University

(Randy Roberts 2010-11-29)

"[An] elegantly written and moving book. . . . This slender, nuanced mini-biography is as brilliant a piece of writing as I have ever read, with prose that is poetic, with a deep understanding of and feeling for DiMaggio."—Charles Stephen, Lincoln Journal Star
(Charles Stephen Lincoln Journal Star)

About the Author

Jerome Charyn is the author of The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson and The Seventh Babe, a novel about a white third baseman on the Red Sox who also played in the Negro Leagues.

More About the Author

Jerome Charyn, a master of lyrical farce and literary ventriloquism, published his first novel in 1964. The author of Johnny One-Eye, The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, and dozens of other acclaimed novels and nonfiction works, he lives in New York and Paris.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 20 customer reviews
I did not know much about Joe DiMaggio, since he was also well before my time.
Tiffany A. Harkleroad
Highly recommended for all baseball fans, 1940s culture buffs, Monroe junkies, or even just sports-literature enthusiasts in general.
Zachary Koenig
His love for Marilyn Monroe was doomed from the start and everyone but Joe knew this.
John Barone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By ThesySurface on March 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
While browsing "Book Soup" on Sunset, I came across "Joe Di Maggio: The Long Vigil" by Jerome Charyn. It's really interesting. Mainly because it deals with the all-American sports hero not at his career prime nor at the peak of his glory, but his life after the spotlight.

Bios tend to emphasize the drama of their subject's struggle to fame and its eventual realization but in "Vigil" it was interesting to discover Charyn's emphasis on the years after, which were just as tumultuous for DiMaggio, internally at least.

Always private in life and ready to end the glare of the camera by retiring with grace, you nevertheless get a feel for how addictive fame can be (Jay-Z's own lyrics from "Lost One": Fame is / The worst drug known to man / It's stronger than, heroin) by the lack Joe felt once the public glare had left him. This was obviously not helped by marrying a woman who (arguably) became and still is the most famous woman in the world: Marilyn Monroe.

Having read pretty much every Marilyn Monroe bio there is, it was cool to read Charyn's take on the man's side of the story, as regards to their marriage. Losing overwhelming public adoration, while your hot wife is on the exact opposite swing, rising to icon status, seemed to be more psychologically damaging for poor Joe than dealing with the pressure of being a sports star. And yet, ironically, while getting into fits over how unhealthy all this mass attention on his wife was, he was equally obsessed and besotted with her.

The author goes so far as to describe the ex-Yankee as a regular stalker: Even after MM openly declared her love for Arthur Miller and when they were courting at New York's Waldorf Hotel, Joe would "wait in the alleys" outside, hoping to see her come out.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ron Kaplan on May 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This year marks the 70th anniversary of one of those sports records still considered to be unbreakable: Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak.

While most of the books over the years -- especially those written in a long-ago time, when athletes were always heroic rather than mortal like the rest of us -- concentrate on the his accomplishments on the field, this year's offerings (the other being Kostya Kennedy's 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports), take a different and darker approach.

The subtitle The Long Vigil can be viewed in more than one way. In one, it represents DiMaggio's need to maintain his status as "The Greatest Living Ballplayer," a title officially bestowed upon him when baseball celebrated its centennial in 1969.

The dust jacket offers another angle.

Rather than the image of the Yankee Clipper in Yankee pinstripes, the photo -- taken by John Vachon for LOOK magazine in 1953 -- represents the main "accomplishment" of DiMaggio's post-career: his love affair with Marilyn Monroe, which continued long after their divorce and even past the Hollywood icon's death.

DiMaggio does not look especially happy in the photo, even though Monroe is smiling, perhaps whispering some loving nugget into his ear. There are no other photos in the book, as if Charyn did not want to intrude further on DiMaggio's notorious demands for privacy.

One word is repeated through The Long Vigil: "brood." Charyn portrays DiMaggio as a man who was never comfortable in his own skin, always wanting to be the best. He sought the accolades of an adoring public with one hand, but pushed them away with the other. Was that separation born of aloofness or an innate shyness/inferiority complex?
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Joe DiMaggio on March 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Over the years, I've read hundreds and hundreds of books, but I've only read three cover-to-cover in one sitting. The first was To Kill the Potempkin and Mexico Bente Uno, both written by Mark Joseph. The third was Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil, written by Jerome Charyn. Someone once asked me how I could tell a great photograph, and I said to them it's when I bite my bottom lip and under my breath I scream "I wish I made that photo!" That's how I feel about Jerome's latest book. I wish he wrote this book 30 years ago. It would have really helped me understand Joe DiMaggio the Yankee clipper as applicable to my relationship with him as a photographer and member of the press. I found myself screaming "Oh My God I understand now!" Hell, if Joe D. was alive today, he'd understand himself a whole lot better! (A quick antidote- I was photographing a Gerry Cooney fight in San Fransisco for Sports Illustrated and somewhere around 3 o'clock in the afternoon in an almost totally empty cow palace. DiMaggio walked in ringside, sat down in his seat alone. I was approximately 40 feet away setting up a remote camera. I looked over, smiled, no particular response. I went back to where my camera bag was, took out a 300 mm 2.8 lens, focused on a chair near DiMaggio, flipped it to a vertical, looked over the lens before I moved it, glanced at DiMaggio-we made eye contact- and I made 3 frames. Before my finger hit the shutter release to make the 4th, DiMaggio, without saying a word, mouthed "THAT'S ENOUGH". It might as well have been an earthquake.) Mr. Charyn, thank you so much for clearing this up for me. You have written one hell of a great book. I'm going to buy a dozen copies as gifts.

Joe D.

(Originally posted on [...] )
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