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Pete Rose: An American Dilemma
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on June 26, 2014
I am 58 and from Youngstown, Ohio and when younger was a rabid baseball fan. So Pete Rose is a huge part of my growing up, I admired his skill , his hustle and his work ethic. So this book was a nice walk down memory lane for me.

The author does a good job reviewing Pete's career, the people who influenced him and I think he does a good job in getting the reader to understand him as much as he can be understood. What I appreciated the most though is the author did take a stance on whether Pete should be in the Hall of Fame. The author thinks the HOF banning Pete was the biggest injustice that it has ever done. I had forgotten or not realized that although Pete was banned from baseball due rule 21, that did not automatically make him ineligible for the Hall of Fame, the directors passed a special rule to keep him out.

The author treats everyone fairly in the book, Giamatti, Vincent, Pete. He recognizes Pete did wrong, Pete needed to be punished and tries to have us understand what inside of Pete made him unable to react in a way that would have allowed him to be reinstated. The author clearly thinks if Pete had handled the situation surrounding his banning better, he would be in the HOF and probably back in baseball.

I think the most important part of the book is what the author in the chapter about the book Pete wrote/cooperated with "Prison without Bars" -- "What hits home by the end of the book and what is reinforced by years of watching his public life, is how ill equipped he (Rose) is to answer the public demands for humility, contrition and self - awareness that society asks of him. It is indeed enough to make you feel, if not empathy, some sympathy after all. There remains something heart breaking about the way Rose revealed himself at the time of his public confession -- a man trapped like many men by his own pathology, trapped by his own delusions and denials. Indeed a prison without bars"

I liked the author's style of writing, the book was a fairly quick read. I will be buying his book on Dimaggio "56"
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Enthusiast: Baseballon November 17, 2014
This is a very fine biography that highlights the ups and down of an American enigma. The book is an easy read and fortunately doesn't dwell on minutiae as some biographies often do. It focuses on the personality of Rose as influenced heavily by his father Harry but there is no deep pycho- babble analysis of Rose. Indeed it appears that no one truly understands the man; not his brother Dave, his son Petey Jr. and perhaps not even his first two wives.
Yet we can all agree from reading Kennedy's book that Rose is crude, coarse, and often a total jerk.(And yet he was never a drinker or one to stay up late) As former Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent said, " Rose is a man without a moral compass." Money seems to be the driving force behind the man since his 1989 banishment. And yet Rose will treat the average Joe or acquaintance with utmost respect at social events where the elite meet to drink and eat. He is in that sense the common man; a blue collar man of a different uniform who knows how to lick the hard times in life. And as a leader or cheerleader there can be no doubt of his prowess and commitment to his team and to the game of baseball. No man, except perhaps Cobb, ever played with as much intensity and desire to overcome his limited skills to become a living legend.
He was so admired that he made the all-century team in 1999 despite his banishment from the game that was his life. Kennedy raises the often debated questions that still occupy Facebook/ Goodreads baseball discussions and provides a balanced take on them. Did Rose gratuitously crush Ray Fosse's shoulder unnecessarily in the 1970 All-Star game or was it a collision caused by Fosse's block of the plate in the 14th inning of a game with few opportunities to win. Was Jim Gray a jerk for his postgame interview(Hint- he still is) or was it newsworthy?
Should the man who steadfastly lied about gambling on baseball for 15 years and who was sentenced to federal prison be permanently banned from eligibility to the Hall of Fame, or should a 25 year ban from baseball be sufficient deterrence and punishment? Should an ad hoc committee picked by the Hall's directors, stacked against Rose at its inception, continue to block admission to one of the greatest players of any generation? I can judge the man morally flawed and egocentric and still find that he belongs in baseball's shrine of honor. To do otherwise is to turn a blind eye to a man who humbled himself before hundreds at the 25th anniversary of his 4,193rd hit and begged for forgiveness for having disrespected the game that he loved. Rose never cheated the game: his numbers are not artificial. He belongs. Thank you again Mr. Kennedy for writing a very fine and timely book.( PS I loved "56" as well.
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Before I launch into this review, during the last 25 years, give or take, I've been ambivalent about Pete Rose getting into the Hall of Fame. Pete Rose: An American Dilemma has completely altered my thinking.

Kostya Kennedy does in his writing what all politicians seek to do, and what only the most charismatic speakers are able to do: he got me thinking this book was written especially for me. I found myself relating to Pete Rose not merely on a sportsman's level, but as if Rose's life were mine.

I only wish I could write with such talent as Kennedy, or have played baseball with such determination and success as Rose.
The first four chapters were, for me, a bit slow and I thought, far more detailed on Pete Rose's mannerisms than I thought necessary. Then, after reading the book, I went back and re-read chapters 1 through 4 and changed my thinking. Without setting the stage with those chapters I could never have appreciated the man, Pete Rose.

What I mean is that the hard-charging, hard-playing, gritty and gruff all-out Pete Rose was the very epitome of so many youths, white and black, who grow up on the wrong side of the tracks, yet succeed through sheer determination. Sure, many youngsters who succeed in sports from those neighborhoods have great genes and fabulous talent, seemingly born for the sporting world.

Rose, however, clearly had far less talent than many of his peers. Yet, he went on to such stunning success that many claim he was the greatest player ever.

Not I, though, for the greatest player I ever watched was Willie, Say Hey Kid, Mays. My favorite, and one of my mentors, was Maury Wills. Having said that, another of my mentors was Pete Rose. I never even got in the minor leagues, but as an amateur I ALWAYS hustled and played with the head first zeal of Pete Rose.

What I loved about this book, as I got deeply into it, was the balance, yet comprehensive, treatment of all the facets of the personality of Pete Rose.

I grew up in the southeast Los Angeles suburb of Lynwood, known in the sixties a Lily White Lynwood. I was a product of the times, thinking I wasn't prejudiced but that it was okay to have laws against Blck people living in my hometown. By 1970, though, I was realizing how foolish discrimination, in any form based on color or religious belief, was wrong.

Pete Rose, though, was well ahead of the curve, in much the same manner and for much the same reason as Woody Guthrie -- because both were working-class Americans who understood they had been discriminated because of their working class background.

Which brings me back to my opening paragraph. Pete Rose became among baseball's elite because he busted his butt 162 games a year, not because he was gifted. And because he was such a crass, gritty, gutsy, balls-to-the-walls hustler despite the risks, when he was no longer playing, he expended that same gusto into gambling. And, probably deservedly, he was banished for many years. So?

Baseball benefitted humongously from Pete Rose during the era when nobody seemed able to get a hit unless it was a home run. It's time to forgive him after two decades.

My realization of THAT after reading this 354 page biography of a baseball great is the biggest reason I recommend Pete Rose: An American Dilemma. I realize at least half the readers of Kostya Kennedy's book will likely take a view opposite my own. That, though, is only proof of balanced reporting by Kennedy.

Seldom have I come across a book that so moved me to go inside myself to discover why I went through my own life with such gritty, working-class bluster and determination.

As I said, I LOVE this book. The most valued biographical book in my collection.
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on June 1, 2014
I am a long time baseball fan. I grew up watching Pete Rose beat my team when he was with the Reds and then the Phillies. I never liked him. That might be putting it lightly. I read this book hoping to learn more about him that would help me to like him better. I learned I might have liked him better had I been able to watch him earlier in his career. There is no doubt that he earned his nickname "Charlie Hustle". I never saw a guy hustle more than that guy.

The book gets to the thing I always saw in him - his arrogance. This was ultimately his undoing. I enjoyed his banning from baseball as I always thought he was a cocky, arrogant player. The book shows us that he was quite arrogant in his personal life.
There is some great stuff about his son, Pete Jr. in the book. I found myself really enjoying those stories and rooting for him, though he lived his own life of denial in a very different way.

Anyone who has followed this story over the years knows that Pete bet on his team when he was a manager, not a player. To some, this is why he should be in the HOF. But, he broke the cardinal rule of baseball. To me, it's not much of a dilemma. But, I enjoyed learning about his childhood and early years in the game, as well as how the light finally shined on his gambling on baseball.
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on November 13, 2014
Though the title gives the impression that the book will mainly be an argument about Pete Rose's current status in baseball, it is actually a full biography. I actually worked with Pete for a little while in the mid-'90's, and this is as accurate a portrait of him as I've ever read. The real Pete is contained in here, both warts (which are well-reported, and legion) and virtues (which sometimes go less recognized these days). Kennedy's portrait of Rose is unsparing, but not unsympathetic, avoiding the hazards of both hagiography and polemic. If you've ever wanted to know what Pete Rose is really like, this is the book.
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on May 23, 2014
This is a good look into the life of "Charlie Hustle". It takes the reader through his entire life, from early childhood all the way into retirement and his ban from baseball and everything in between. It's an interesting read, and while it will never win a Pulitzer Prize, I enjoyed the book. I grew up in Philadelphia and was 10 years old when Pete Rose came to the Phillies in 1979, so some of my greatest childhood memories of the Phillies are of the those great years, especially the World Series Championship in 1980. A lot of the stuff in the book are stories that have already been told, but there's also a lot of new stories too. The one story that I will take from this book is a story about Pete's first press conference after signing with the Phillies in 1979. Right after the press conference, Rose asked Mike Schmidt to talk to him privately. Rose told Schmidt that he thought that Schmidt was the best player in baseball but he was struggling because he was too sensitive to the negative media coverage about him and that Rose had a solution. Rose told Schmidt to just go out and play as hard as he could and that, after every game, Pete would get the media over to his locker and talk to them as long as they wanted, which could give Schmidt an opportunity to just get dressed and get out of the locker room without being interviewed if he didn't want to, and Rose thought that would help Schmidt focus on just playing baseball. Schmidt told this story in the book and was very grateful to Rose, saying that he had the best statistics of his career during the years that Rose played for the Phillies, and a big part of that was because Pete took a lot of the pressure off Schmidt and allowed him just to relax and play baseball. So, for all of the bad things you can say about Pete Rose, you can't say that we was a bad teammate, because his actions over his career showed that he was a great teammate and a great leader in the clubhouse and on the field.
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on June 27, 2014
Reader is Left To Decide This book is very interesting. The main question , is if Pete Rose should be in the hall of fame. The author does not take a position on the question and the reader is left to make the decision. The book provides a very detailed and interesting look at the life of Pete Rose,.It is not judgmental.
There is little question that Rose was and is Mr. Baseball. It is his life. While he was short on talent,he made up for it by studying the game,never ending hard practice, and his hustle.Pete has insights into the nuances of the game that no one else has. If a fielder is 10 ft. too deep, he sees it and knows how to take advantage of it.Pete can recall every single pitch of a game and what happened with each.
A very enjoyable book but a sad tale. To watch a man devote his life to the game, raise to the top and then fall from grace is a sad tale .
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on September 2, 2014
What purpose does the Baseball Hall of Fame serve? Is it an outdated institution run by the typical omnipotent moral busybodies consistently feeding on control, or is it meant to acknowledge great achievements in Baseball. There are few plays that I have seen in baseball that will stick in my mind forever. One play that I will remember as though it happened only moments ago was by Charlie Hustle in the World Series when he backed up the catcher on a pop fly. No one else would have even thought of attempting this play, but there was Pete and Pete's play may have well saved the game and the series. Few have contributed to the game to the extent of what Pete Rose contributed every day of his career. This was a great book. Many thanks to Kostya Kennedy for being unbiased.
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on May 15, 2014
Pete Rose: An American Dilemma is a clear , concise recounting of Hit King Pete Rose's life and career. Kennedy does not make a case one way or the other about whether Pete Rose should be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. it is left up to the reader to decide. The book exposes all Rose's sins as have been told before in other books and news articles. It well thought out and presented in a readable format. The only shortcoming is the lack of info regarding Rose's legal issues for which he went to jail. The book just went from the Dowd report to Rose in prison barely touching on the legal investigation and plea. Do I think Pete Rose should be in Cooperstown? He did bet on baseball and there should be a price to pay. But lifetime ban, I don't know. As a deterrent factor? Players make so much $ now that I don't think it could be an issue to be concerned about anymore. To think that someone putting up Hall of Fame numbers during his career would be involved in game fixing today is unrealistic. Marginal players aren't around long enough to affect the game. Plus camera's will catch everything. I got the feeling from the book that baseball people in the league feel Rose contributed to A. Bartlett Giamanti death and are reluctant to let him back in the game because of it. I think he should be in despite the fact that he seems to be a complete jerk at times. Read the the book and make your own decision
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on October 4, 2015
I felt so sorry for Pete after reading this book. It looks like he not going to be inducted to the Hall of Fame! Maybe to the Hall of Shame!!
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