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The Boys of Summer (Harperperennial Modern Classics) Reissue Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 142 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0060883966
ISBN-10: 0060883960
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"At a point in life when one is through with boyhood, but has not yet discovered how to be a man, it was my fortune to travel with the most marvelously appealing of teams." Sentimental because it holds such promise, and bittersweet because that promise is past, the first sentence of this masterpiece of sporting literature, first published in the early '70s, sets its tone. What follows only gets better, deeper, more sentimental, and more bittersweet. The team, of course, is the mid-20th-century Brooklyn Dodgers, the team of Robinson and Snyder and Hodges and Reese, a team of great triumph and historical import composed of men whose fragile lives were filled with dignity and pathos. Roger Kahn, who covered that team for the New York Herald Tribune, makes understandable humans of his heroes as he chronicles the dreams and exploits of their young lives, beautifully intertwining them with his own, then recounts how so many of those sweet dreams curdled as the body of these once shining stars grew rusty with age and battered by experience. It is the rare sports book that cannot be contained by the limitations of its genre; it is equal parts journalism, memoir, social history, and poetry. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Roger Kahn has achieved the near impossible in his "The Boys of Summer" by writing two splendid books in one, neither of which, strangely enough, is a sports book although baseball is the central theme of both. To Mr. Kahn, 'people' is the name of the game, and it's a game he plays with brilliance, insight and thoughtfulness. To say that I 'enjoyed' the book is to say that winning a World Championship is 'interesting', owing a derby winner 'nice', and starring in the Super Bowl 'fun'."-- Bill Veeck"Kahn's book is marvelous...a splendid historical work. It is about youthful dreams in small American towns and big cities decades ago, and how some of these dreams where fulfilled, and about what happened to those dreamers after reality and old age arrived. It is also a book about ourselves, those of us who shared and identified with the dreams and glories of our heroes."-- Gay Talese"What most people look for in a book is a good story. Roger Kahn gives us about fifteen of them woven into one coherent narrative that is moving and funny and sentimental (about people and things that merit sentiment) and cynical (about those that don't)."-- Ring Lardner, Jr. "To writer Roger Kahn, the old Brooklyn Dodgers National League baseball team is a forever a priceless violin and he is the bow which must play upon it. This isn't a book; it's a love affair between a man, his team, and an era."-- "Christian Science Monitor""A work of high purpose and poetic accomplishment. The finest American book on sports. I commend it without qualification."-- James Michener"The "Boys of Summer" is a book of life . . . beautifully and above all . . . respectfully observed."-- Paul Hogan"A work of high purpose and poeticaccomplishment. The finest American book on sports. I commend it without qualification."--James Michener"The best team the majors ever saw, a team so extraordinary that Marianne Moore wrote poems to it--the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950s...A moving elegy!"--"New York Times"Not just another book about baseball or a boy growing up to like baseball, but a book about pain and defeat and endurance, about how men anywhere must live."--Peter Prescott, "Newsweek
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Product Details

  • Series: Harperperennial Modern Classics
  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Reissue edition (May 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060883960
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060883966
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tyler Smith on April 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
While it's tempting to say simply that is the best baseball book ever written (I happen to think that it is), such a statement would do a disservice to the book. It's a great book -- period.
Kahn's memoir of his life in Brooklyn and in the world beyond is really three books in one. First, it's an evocative story of growing up in the '30s and '40s in an intellectually challenging household that somehow (much to his mother's disgust) centered around the exasperating study of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Second, it's the tale of a young writer who at an astonishingly young age found himself covering the team he loved during two bittersweet seasons ('52 and '53) that ended in agonizing seven-game World Series losses to (who else?) the New York Yankees.
Third, it's the story of how this no-longer-young writer went back to find the Boys of Summer long after their careers had ended. This is the most poignant section of the book: Kahn's finely etched portraits of the heroes of his youth, now ordinary men leading ordinary (but compelling) lives.
What sets this book apart from the vast majority of books written about baseball (sports in general, really) is Kahn's respect for his subjects. Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Carl Erskine, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, et al., emerge as three-dimensional characters capable of heroism and strong-willed determination as well as bitterness.
To recount the individual stories contained in this book even briefly would not do justice to the book or to its subjects. It's a book best savored slowly, allowing its resonance to work its magic. The story of a vanished world and a vanished team, "The Boys of Summer" recreates both so vividly that between its pages, neither will ever die.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the books that I had considered reading since I was a young man in love with baseball for the first time. In a sense, I'm glad I waited all these years to finally read it. I think that I would not have enjoyed it at 14 the way I did at 28. The book is beautiful elegy and mediation on a time long gone and the men who made up it's glory. They bear littler resemblance to the stars of today. I grew up with stories of the '52 World Series and the Dodgers. This book gave me the gift of being able to exprience a bit of what my grandfather and father shared on that October day in 1952 as Joe Black took the mound against the Yankees. I've always held the Dodgers in awe (the BRooklyn version at least) and this book allows me to see the men who made up those times as real people. Pee Wee Reese emerges as Kahn's hero in the baseball parts. I would argue that his father, Gordon, was almost as heroic to him. It is beautiful book about boys, their fathers, and the ties that bind us to what is still, even in this day and age, the single greatest game ever invented. This is a classic that should be read by every fan. Thank you, Mr. Kahn.
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By A Customer on January 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
My mother brought this book years ago in a three books for a dollar deal. The other two are long gone, unread and forgotten. Between my brother and myself we read The Boys of Summer so thoroughly the copy we had split down the middle and eventually fell apart. One of the first things i did when i visited the US a while back was buy another copy of this wonderful book. At the very core of it lay two themes,courage and frustration. It covers Jackie Robinsons team of the early 50's. They were good but never quite good enough. Like the modern day Atlanta Braves the Brooklyn Dodgers kept running into a juggernaut called the New York Yankees. They say that for every winner there is a loser. Thats not true. For every winner there are thousands of losers. Only one team/person can hold up the trophy at the end of the season. The Brooklyn Dodgers of the early 1950's represent the rest of us, the also rans. Roger Kahn brilliantly brings those days back to life and by then covering the men after their glory days are long behind them the book transcends sports and becomes a study of humanity in all its fraility. The fact that the Dodgers moved away not long after finally breaking through in the World Series only intensifies the tragedy of it all. It says something that a white boy growing up on the other side of the world can come to admire someone like Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play Major League Baseball, whos deeds and presence are discussed at some length in the pages of this book. He is my only hero. The Boys of Summer is a classic. I would recommend it to anyone.
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Format: Paperback
Roger Kahn was the beat writer who covered the Brooklyn Dodgers of the early 1950s. This book tells the story of how Roger got the position he did and his experiences with the players. A really great depiction of basball in its hey day. Kahn really captures the essence of a simpler time in sports. The second part of the book is a great look into the life of a ball player after he has retired. Kahn tells of his visits with such Dodger greats as Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, and Gil Hodges after the end of their playing careers. And amazing book highly recomended to not only Dodger fans, but baseball fans. This book is easily one of the best wirtten works on Americas most notable past time.
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