Top positive review
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A balanced, thoughtful book
on May 10, 2002
There has been a lot said and written about Joe Jackson by a variety of people - baseball people, baseball historians, scholars of the 1919 World Series, residents of the South (particularly South Carolina), and others. There's also been a variety of books produced about Jackson, most with his point of view or the "point of view he would have had," whatever that might have been at any point in time. It was with some skepticism that I picked up Fleitz's book and started to read, half expecting to see the same arguments that I've read before - Jackson as a victim, as the greatest player not in the Hall of Fame but for one mistake, and how he went back to South Carolina and scratched out a living (or was very successful, depending on which book you read).
Fleitz's book was a most pleasant surprise - it offers information that I haven't found anywhere else, and gives more "flesh" and substance to the person that was Joe Jackson than any previous account of his life that I had read. One point is the relationship that he had with his wife: always shown as the doting couple, Fleitz writes that this wasn't always the case. In baseball, he shows that Jackson wasn't the near-mythological player that he had been portrayed, and that he did fail at any number of clutch situations. By the same token, Jackson is also frequently mentioned as a batting role model to any number of famous players. The reactions of contemporaries thoughtout the book is also delightful feature.
A primary focus of the book is in the 1919 World Series and Jackson's role in that. Through the years Jackson has garnered significant numbers of supporters claiming that he was innocent; Fleitz offers evidence and opinions that he may not have been that innocent at all. There is also the issue of his initial acceptance of the gamblers' money. As with many people, I have my opinions of the World Series fix and Jackson's involvement. Prior to Fleitz's book, the opinion was a little fuzzier; after reading the book, it's become a little clearer. Was he innocent or guilty? Read the book and make your decision - it's well worth your time.