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Memories of Summer: When Baseball Was an Art, and Writing about It a Game (Bison Book) Paperback – March 1, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Esteemed baseball writer Roger Kahn's Memories of Summer makes a fine companion to his earlier classic,The Boys of Summer. Both books plow similar soil--Kahn's roots in Brooklyn and his years covering the Dodgers with fertile prose--but the similarities end there. The new volume, subtitled "When Baseball Was an Art, and Writing About It a Game," foregoes its predecessor's route of wistful melancholy and broken dreams for the exhilaration of the sport itself. Kahn focuses his considerable powers on the ways baseball permeated America's post-World War II ethos, and why, in an era less blemished by cynicism, baseball blossomed into a writer's playing field. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Kahn's masterpiece is The Boys of Summer (1972), a nostalgic study of the great Brooklyn Dodger teams of the 1950s. Though Boys spawned a quickly tiresome onslaught of pastoral baseball memoirs, the original retains its charm because Kahn--now nearly 70--is a master at evoking a sense of the past. Here he offers a pleasing potpourri of autobiography, professional memoir, and anecdotal baseball history. Kahn came of age just after World War II, beginning his career as a copyboy with the now-defunct New York Herald Tribune. The sports section of that paper was referred to as the "toy" store, but it was an erudite one with legends such as Red Smith, Heywood Broun, and editor Stanley Woodward manning the typewriters. Kahn moved quickly up the ranks. By his mid-twenties--he was younger than most of the players--he was covering his beloved Dodgers. It was the start of a distinguished career that includes 16 books and stints at Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, and the Saturday Evening Post. Interwoven among his journalism anecdotes are impressions of controversial New York Giants manager Leo Durocher and his relationship with young superstar Willie Mays; thoughts on Mickey Mantle; and reflections on Mays' last hurrah as an aging, largely ineffective superstar. Of special note to journalism buffs is Kahn's account of his role in the inception of Sports Illustrated. Kahn's reputation will generate deserved interest for this worthwhile, satisfying reminiscence. Wes Lukowsky --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Bison Book
  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803278128
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803278127
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,808,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Mr. Kahn turns back the clock to the days when baseball was the true American pastime. His anecdotes and interviews about Mantle, Mays, and Early Wynn bring these individuals to life more than any statistics possibly could. His love of his father is written about in such a profound manner that is timeless. In all a classic piece of Americana that hopefully will be read fifty years from now.
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I grew up in the 50's and baseball and the men who played it were superstars. Roger Kahn, the author brings it all back to life, while giving me a new outlook on the real men, not just what the media at the time allowed me to see. It felt good reading this book, a comfortable feeling that brought back many memories. I am also grateful that Mr. Kahn actually knew the players and wrote about them. This is not a book written by a person who was not at the games. I believe that this is one of the best books written about baseball.
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By A Customer on September 11, 1998
Format: Paperback
I was fortunate enough to receive a preview copy of this book a few weeks before its release because I was interviewing Mr. Kahn on a radio interview program.
As soon as I started reading, I was hooked. Although I was not alive during the 1950's, I have always been fascinated with baseball during that era, particularly the lovable Brooklyn Dodgers. Kahn's latest book does such a wonderful job of describing what it was like to be around baseball every day in that bygone era.
The easiest interview I have ever done was that one I did with Roger. His love for baseball was evident from the first question I asked him. His insight gained from covering the Dodgers in the 1950's is something every baseball fan could use. In this season of home runs, the average fan is once again starting to appreciate baseball. Roger Kahn will make you appreciate it even more.
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This is a compilation of old notes and essays Kahn had available to put together into a book. I am not sure how much of this has been previously published. The dialogues with Kahn and Stengel are very amusing and the narrative about Kahn's early years as a reporter for the World Series is something I'm sure I've read before.
The book closes with two long, agonizing interviews with Mantle and Mays. On Mantle he concludes the alcohol abuse wasn't as serious as the debilitating knee and leg injuries. On Mays he agrees with George Will, who angrily attacks those who condescendingly praised Mays as a natural talent, etc. Mays, Will says in Men at Work, was always thinking ahead. So also with The Catch, which Kahn says Mays was certain he would make; the concern in his mind was getting the ball back to the infield before the runner could score from second. I saw this on TV in 1954 and of course I failed to grasp the importance of The Throw. Mays never said "Say hey!" which I saw as gently racist stereotyping. Mays went along with this nonsense. His last interview, when "Willie Mays says goodbye to America" because he couldn't play as he used to, provokes tears every time I think of it. Mantle was white and so he was deified; Willie was simply the best ever.
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The writing is very good, but what makes Memories of Summer so exceptional is the author's close relationship of so many baseball players of old. Kahn's baseball knowledge heyday was probably the 1950s and 1960s - the timing of when I became a baseball nut. His friendship with Jacky Robinson and how he writes about this baseball icon was particularly appealing to me, but the whole book brought back so many rushing memories. Nick Sisley
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Being a little younger than the author, I was a kid in the era he writes about. Although I have always been a Tigers fan, I think it would have been neat to live in a place with 3 teams a subway ride apart. I liked it enough, that I'm reading Boys Of Summer now.
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Kahn grew up in Brooklyn, going to Dodger games from 1936 on, lucked into a sports writing job at the Herald-Trib, and then got to cover the Dodgers. He met the greats of New York ball in the early 50s, and met them again in the 90s. Superb on most, a bit drawn out on some, but always fair and enthusiastic.
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Format: Paperback
Let me explain this way: Growing up, I was never a fan of the Dodgers, they were my Giants' rival. This book made me a fan. In fact, this book made me long to be the kind of fan Khan was, want to be a roadie for a team I barely knew of beyond a few big names a week before. It revived my slumped interest in baseball overall, and taught me a lot that I had never considered about the sport.

There's not one place in this book where names and stats are thrown at the reader; every name and every statistic is a story, some seen from the wide eyes of a child and some with the reverence of an adult around his human heroes. Neither is this book a whitewash nor the disillusionment of heroes not living up to their image: Everyone is alive and fresh, everyone has a meticulously researched backstory told with a folksy sense of humor about their all-too-human foibles. Mixed into the stories are comments from the people involved from interviews many years later, when they can look back with more honesty, written in seamlessly. Of course not everyone's stories match - instead of choosing a truth, Khan just lays a few sides out, lets the reader feel some of the disharmony that occasionally shook the teams, without stopping to exhaustively debate the reality of each.

It's very obvious that Khan is an astute master of language, someone who spent fifty years not only writing stories daily but perfecting his craft. The emotion he pours into every page never comes off tacky or trite, it's manly but not chauvinistic, and filled with a lifelong boyish wonder. Most of all, the retelling of each game is something special, breathing life back into an afternoon decades past.
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