Reviews for Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball
Library Journal Reviews 2002 September #2
What does Simon, host of National Public Radio's Weekend Edition, bring to the Robinson legacy? The standard was set by Jules Tygiel's 1997 update of his great 1983 book, Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy. For the casual reader who may not wish to slog through Tygiel's 432 pages of history and sociology, Simon's 176 pages may be just the ticket. This more modest book-part of Wiley's new "Turning Points" series focusing on "defining" historical events-deals primarily with Robinson's life, from his service in the army during World War II through his first couple of seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers. In writing about Robinson, Simon also tells the story of segregated America. To a younger generation not familiar with Jim Crow society, the world rendered so vividly through Simon's writing will seem like another planet. The reader has to be reminded that this iniquitous period of American history was not all that long ago. Simon's book does not reveal anything new about Robinson, but for those not completely familiar with his story, this is an excellent place to start. Readers familiar with the story can still enjoy a wordsmith's craft. It is much the same quality as his work on National Public Radio. Enthusiastically recommended.-Randall L. Schroeder, Wartburg Coll. Lib., Waverly, IA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2002 June #4
As the cliché goes, if Jackie Robinson hadn't existed, someone would have had to invent him. In fact, much of this mini-bio by National Public Radio's Simon serves to dismiss the oft-spoken argument that much of Robinson's legend (and that of his patron, the Brooklyn Dodgers' general manager Branch Rickey) can be attributed to the mythmakers who have made a career for themselves deifying the man who integrated baseball's National League in 1947. Simon revises the revisionists not by analyzing the rose-tinted image many have painted of Robinson and Rickey, but rather by allowing each man to be human and decidedly flawed. Not allowing his shortcomings (a brash temper, a noted rebelliousness and a not insignificant amount of baseball snobbery) to define his performance as a player was Robinson's greatest success, and Simon (Home and Away) illustrates that point ably. He doesn't tell readers anything they don't know about Robinson, Rickey, the Dodgers, Brooklyn and the state of race relations in the 1940s, but he does a slightly more thorough job than most of illuminating Jackie's one and only year playing for Brooklyn's farm club in Montreal, the place where Rickey's "noble experiment" actually began. This episode is often overlooked by everyone except Montrealers, who take no small amount of pride in their role as pioneers. (Simon notes that Robinson's earlier tryout with the Boston Red Sox was for naught, quite possibly because that team's farm team played in conservative, segregated Kentucky rather than liberal, cosmopolitan Montreal.) While no new ground is covered, Simon's account of Robinson, Rickey and the integration of baseball is as thorough and accessible as the reader is likely to find. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.