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I Never Had It Made: An Autobiography of Jackie Robinson Paperback – May 6, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This autobiography, which was originally published in 1972, the year Robinson died, is not about baseball: it's about the deep commitment that Robinson made to achieve justice for himself and all Americans. He recalls his years at UCLA, where he became the school's first four-letter athlete and met his future wife, Rachel. With the advent of WWII he was drafted into the army, became a lieutenant and was court-martialed for refusing to move to the back of a bus. He was honorably discharged. He played for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues until he was recruited by Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1947 Robinson broke the color line in the major leagues and suffered terrible abuse for doing so. He discusses his relationships with the sports figures he admired, like Rickey and teammate Pee Wee Reese, and also recalls his run-ins with those he did not like, such as Dodger owner Walter O'Malley, who was "viciously antagonistic," and sportswriter Dick Young, a "racial bigot." Much of the book, written with freelancer Duckett, focuses on Robinson's political involvements after his career ended in 1956 and his friendships with such diverse characters as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, William Buckley and Nelson Rockefeller. The most wrenching episodes in the book deal with Jackie Jr., who overcame his heroin addiction only to be killed in an automobile accident at age 24 in 1971. A disturbing and enlightening self-portrait by one of America's genuine heroes. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This book essentially enlarges upon matters Duckett had covered with Robinson in an earlier work, Breakthrough to the Big League (1965). Included are introductions by Hank Aaron and Cornel West that provide fresh perspectives on the significance of the legendary star's breaking of major league baseball's color barrier. With each retelling, it is clear that Robinson's story has become less a baseball story than a major cultural milestone in the nation's history. As George Will is quoted as saying, it was "one of the great achievements not only in the annals of sport, but of the human drama anywhere, anytime." Appropriate for both adult and young adult collections.?William H. Hoffman, Ft. Myers-Lee Cty. P.L., Fla.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; Edition Unstated edition (May 6, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060555971
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060555979
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Mallipudi on January 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
When I think about someone like Jackie Robinson, I think of someone who had an easy life of playing baseball and making lots of money. He was first the first African-American to play in the professional Major League level and was highly respected by everyone. After having read his autobiography, I Never Had It Made, I realized that I was totally wrong. Besides the glory and the fame for having been the first African-American to play in the major leagues, Jackie had to go through many hardships to get where he got. Jackie uses this book to tell the reader of all the different trials and hardships he had to go through before, during, and after his professional career as the 1st and 2nd baseman of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Jackie also tells of all the other things that he did besides baseball. I didn't know it, but Jackie went to UCLA and while he was there, he did many great things. Not only was a great baseball star at UCLA, he was also a big star in football, basketball, and track. After college, he went into the Army and became a lieutenant for the U.S. Army before he signed with the Montreal Royals (a minor league baseball team) in 1945. Jackie gives a lot of the credit to Mr. Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers for having the guts to bring him into the team and making the transition as easy as possible. Jackie promised to take in any insults thrown at him while he was in baseball uniform and not to respond to them for two years. This was to pave the way for other black players to be brought into the major league. I personally don't think that I can play a game while people are yelling and making fun of me. Jackie describes what he had to go through in the book. Jackie also discusses the hate mail he got and even the threats people placed on his life.Read more ›
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy on December 28, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book when I did a research paper on Jackie Robinson in 11th grade English class back in 2003. It was a great autobiography and I couldn't put the book down. Not only tells the story of the man as a baseball player, but it tells how he struggled being a "black man in a white world." If you are interested in baseball, civil rights, or even just want to read a good book and learn more about the time, I highly recommend this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By The Golden Bear on May 31, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book provided interesting insight to the thinking of a man who made a mark on American history.

We frequently hear about Jackie Robinson as the baseball icon who broke racial barriers in a segregated institution. We seldom hear of his many contributions to the business and political world. His autobiography gives personal insight to his life and the impact he had in the socio-political arena.

Jackie was an outspoken advocate of his personal beliefs. He took on many challenges and sometimes suffered the consequences of those struggles. The reader gets to experience Jack Robinson as a dynamic individual who is sometimes bitter, sometimes apologetic, sometimes sexist, sometimes full of pain, and sometimes proud. He discusses his views, his motivations, his reasoning, and his failures.

The book reads as if the manuscript was typed verbatim from a tape recorded story of Jackie's life. As times, it lacks sufficient historical perspective that would provide greater information and understanding for the reader.

One of the short comings of the book is the lack of footnotes. Jackie refers to a variety of documents including newspaper articles, but fails to provide footnotes so that the reader can refer to and research the source. Footnotes provide an excellent tool to look for and obtain more information on the subject. Due to the fact that there are many such references, they should have been available. It would have also been a plus to see copies of some of the letters written to Jackie by Rockefeller, Nixon, and other historical figures that are discussed at length in the book.

I would have also like to know more about Jackie's early years, such as, the schools he attended and how he entered UCLA.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By matt on March 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book tells of the struggles Jackie Robinson faced as he made a name for himself in the game of baseball. This is a wonderfully writen autobiography that tells the emotion and physical hardships he faced not only in the major and minor leagues while playing baseball but also in his everyday life as well.While perservering through all this, he succeeded to a degree of breaking the color barrier in the United States. As a child he witnessed constant racism from neighbors, children, and many others that came into contact with him. His mother brought him up to be very strong and independent because when Jackie was about one or two his father went to the city and never returned. He left her with nothing but thier five children who were all too young to work and support the family. Eventually after being forced to move, they went to live with Jacies uncle in California.
This book really showed me how hard he had it. Not only did he have the pressures of playing in the major leagues but also have to worry about prejudist on the field and in the stands. You will see how he didnt have a friend to talk to unless his wife, Rachel Robinson, would travel with him during the season. There was no one who even dreamed of having a black man in baseball until the dodgers took on Jackie. Baseball has never been the same because of the influence this one man has had on the sport itself and many if not all other sports indirectly.
"I Never Had It Made" tells Robinson's early years and influences such as his college experience at UCLA, where he became the school's first four-letter athlete;World War II , playing with the Negro Leagues; and when Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers asked Jackie Robinson to play, which was known as the "Noble Experiment".
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