Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil, by Jerome Charyn

Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil (Icons of America)Joltin Joe.  The Walloping Wop.  Mr. Marilyn Monroe.  These were the ways the American public viewed Joe DiMaggio.  But only a select few really new him, knew his impact on the game of baseball, knew his fears and his pains, saw him at his rare moments of weakness.  So come, learn more about one of the silent heroes of the great American pastime.

Baseball is in my blood.  You see, my maiden name is Niekro.  To many, that name means nothing, but to baseball fans, it means knuckleballs, pitchers, brothers.  My cousins Phil and Joe Niekro played pro ball years before I was born.  But that legacy has stayed with me, and given me a love for all things baseball.  I hoped this book would feed my love affair.  It did so much more than I could have ever expected.

I did not know much about Joe DiMaggio, since he was also well before my time.  I knew of his greatness, without specifics.  I knew of his marriage to Marilyn, without realizing the tragedy.  Now, I know, I realize, I adore, and I mourn.  This book made me wish I had been alive to see Joe play, to see him at his best, and his worst, through his streaks and his slumps.  This book made me fall a little in love with Joe DiMaggio.

Clearly, Jerome Charyn has love for Joe as well.  Because this is not written as a stiff, cold biography.  No, these are words filled with love, the romance of the times, and pure, unadulterated joy at the privilege of getting to see Joe play.  Charyn never denies Joe's faults, he simply loves him despite the faults.  If you read the book, chances are you will too.

I think this book is wonderful for all baseball fans, as well as fans of biographies.  If, like me, you adore both, then this book is certain to hit a home run with you.

I received a review copy of the book courtesy of the publishers.  View the book's tour website here.