- Audible Audiobook
- Listening Length: 6 hours and 16 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Abridged
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: October 20, 2000
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0000547HO
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life Audible Audiobook – Abridged
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But the picture painted by Richard Ben Cramer is not pretty to look at. Joltin' Joe was, it appears, a money-grubbing skinflint who expected people to give him everything for free and immediately became suspicious and cut people off as soon as they asked for the smallest thing in return. He cut off his son, who later died of a crank overdose, for not living up to his standards. He lost two wives, including Marilyn Monroe, essentially because he was so controlling and domineering. Although he managed to patch things up with one of his brothers, Dom, he basically died alone under the effective control of a lawyer who was out to get everything he could from the DiMaggio estate.
I didn't doubt this picture as presented by the author, but I felt there must be something missing. Late in his life, he was a very popular social fixture on the New York scene, hanging out with a lot of luminaries such as Woody Allen, Paul Simon and Henry Kissinger, to name a few. I found it hard to reconcile Cramer's picture of DiMaggio as, well, a jerk, with the apparent fact that he was a popular social butterfly late in life.
It seemed to me that he must have had a charming side too, or he wouldn't have been so popular. But there was little suggestion in the book that Joe could be charming. That's why I gave this book four stars instead of five -- that feeling that something must be missing. Still, it's a great book and a great read. Highly recommended for baseball fans.
Joe speaking to young woman who came up to him at an airport , she told him she worked for the company that was marketing his memorabilia
“F*** You, that was just Joe's opener. F*ing C***. What gives you the right to come up to me? Get the F*** away from me , You're too ugly to talk to me in public.”
From my reading of this book I would say there is no way that #5 can be said to have had a “life well lived”. He was aloof, disconnected from his family, stingy, cheap, petty and seemed to have been quite stuck on himself. He seemed to only view people as objects to be used, whether that be women as sex objects or men friends who would drive him around, pay him to show up at nightclubs, market his signature. He physically abused Marilyn Monroe, pushed his son out of his life and treated a lot of people really poorly.
He formed no real connections with his teammates. I remember being struck how in 1951 he didn't speak to Mickey Mantle the entire year until Mickey hurt himself in the world series tripping over a sprinkler “ Stay still, they're bringing a stretcher” was the only thing he said to him all year.
The book does a great job covering Joe's career with the Yankees- 13 seasons, 10 world series, 3 MVPs. It then spends about 200 pages covering his post career life. So if you don't mind having another hero revealed as a douchebag, I'd recommend this book.
The choice of words in the title is telling: not "a" hero's life, which would imply that DiMaggio was a genuine hero, but "the" hero's life, implying that the subject's actual life was greatly at variance with his heroic image, as it certainly was. Some DiMaggio fans are offended that Cramer didn't write a worshipful puff-piece; instead he revealed what a cold, mean-spirited, greedy guy DiMaggio really was. But the author also helps the reader understand how DiMaggio got that way, and it's this quality that makes the book so extraordinary.
Two criticisms of aspects of the book that make it less than a five-star production: The author's repeated use of the term "Dago" when referring to DiMaggio could perhaps be explained by the fact that many people of the time really did refer to DiMaggio with that ethnic slur, but it's still offensive and unnecessary. People in the past may indeed have referred to DiMaggio that way, but that doesn't mean Cramer should compound the error by throwing the term around so frequently himself! If he were writing about Hank Greenberg, I'll bet he wouldn't refer to him throughout his text as "The Hebe" or "The Kike." Nor, if he were writing about Jackie Robinson, would he dream of referring to his subject as "The Nig," or by whatever other racist slurs were hurled at Robinson.
The other criticism is that I was constantly wondering how the author could possibly have known some of the things he includes. Maybe this is just awe at Cramer's reportorial skills, but since he includes no source notes, we have to take him at his word. He may well have had many talky informants, especially after DiMaggio's death, but I don't think anybody could have followed Joe into the bedroom with Marilyn Monroe, the way Cramer pretends to do!