Fri October 22, 2010
An Outstanding New Biography of Mickey Mantle: "The Last Boy"
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – On this edition of our show, we speak with noted sports biographer Jane Leavy, whose new book (which has been getting rave reviews) is called "The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood." Also known for her acclaimed life of pitcher Sandy Koufax, Leavy here offers an exhaustive, innovative, and deeply informative portrait of Mantle that (incredibly) draws upon 500+ interviews. True, there are many books on Mantle out there already --- including a few by the Mick himself, and by members of his family --- but Leavy's biography is sure to become a standard work, if not the definitive volume, on Mantle's life and career. As Keith Olbermann recently noted of this work in the Sunday New York Times Book Review: "Leavy comes as close as perhaps anyone ever has to answering 'What makes Mantle Mantle?' She transcends the familiarity of the subject, cuts through both the hero worship and the backlash of pedestal-wrecking . . . treats evenly his belated sobriety and the controversial liver transplant . . . and handles his infidelity with dispassion. Sophocles could have easily worked with a story like Mantle's --- the prominent figure, gifted and beloved, through his own flaws wasteful, given clarity too late to avoid his fate. Leavy spares us the classical tragedy even as she avoids the morality play. 'The Last Boy' is something new in the history of the histories of the Mick. It is hard fact, reported by someone greatly skilled at that craft, assembled into an atypical biography by someone equally skilled at doing that, and presented so that the reader and not the author draws nearly all the conclusions."