Thursday, July 30, 2015

Joe DiMaggio: A Hero's Life

I finished reading Joe DiMaggio: A Hero's Life by Richard Ben Cramer. I bought the book after buying What It Takes: The Way to the White House by the same author; this highly regarded political novel about the 1988 presidential campaign is still sitting on my nightstand… When I bought that book I noticed this book about Joe DiMaggio on Amazon.

I had four general observations about the book. First, I was surprised that DiMaggio was a high school drop-out. Due to his brother, he got a chance to play with the Seals in the Pacific Coast League and his career took off. In his first season at age 19, DiMaggio had a 61 game hitting streak. This streak transformed DiMaggio’s future.

Second, DiMaggio had an amazing MLB career. He was a three-time MVP winner and an All-Star in each of his 13 seasons. During his tenure with the Yankees, the club won ten American League pennants and nine World Series championships. At the major league level, he hit safety in 56 games in 1941. This is a record that stands today.

Third, while I knew that he was married to Marilyn Monroe, I never appreciated the breadth of the relationship. Although he was only married to Marilyn for a less than a year, she played an important part of his life for almost ten years.

Fourth and finally, the book paints DiMaggio as extremely motivated by the dollar. Particularly after he retired, DiMaggio worked every angle.

I enjoyed the book. I just have no idea whether or not it is an accurate portrayal of Joe DiMaggio. The book tells a number of very detailed antecodes and includes a number of very specific quotes from DiMaggio. The book has been criticized for lacking any footnotes or references. A number of people have claimed that without any sources for the stories and quotes the book is more fiction than fact. As result, I am not sure that I can recommend it. I am going to have to eventually read another book about DiMiaggio.

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