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Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero Hardcover – Apr 13 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (April 13 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385507488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385507486
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.7 x 24.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 907 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #685,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Montville, who also penned the bestselling bio about racer Dale Earnhart (The Altar of Speed), covers all of Williams's heroic achievements-a Hall of Fame baseball career, two tours of duty as a Marine fighter pilot, an unmatched thirst for the thrill of the outdoors. But thanks to the author's ability to track down new sources of information, Montville presents a more nuanced portrayal of the baseball star than many previous biographies. The Kid, as Williams was known, is brought to life with portraits supplied from the people who made up Williams's very compartmentalized life. Distinct recollections of his former teammates, fishing buddies, former lovers, caretakers, family members and brothers in arms coupled with Montville's ability to display each memory in its own context gives readers an extraordinary glimpse into Williams's complex psyche. Though he admits to worshipping Williams as a youth, Montville's crisp prose holds nothing back when it comes to exposing Williams's many flaws, his heartbreaking final years and the controversy surrounding his death. Relying on his years as a sports writer, Montville is also able to subtly shift the tone of the book to fit Williams's personality as he evolved from an energetic youth to a cantankerous star, from America's bigger-than-life legend to a bedridden invalid. Sure, Teddy Ballgame was an American icon, but Montville's ability to show the darker and lighter human sides of Williams is a pretty remarkable achievement in its own right.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The late, great baseball Hall-of-Famer Ted Williams was always a lightning rod, igniting controversy in his wake, even after his death, as those who have followed the intrafamily battle regarding the disposition of his remains can attest. Montville, whose resume includes stints as a Boston Globe columnist and senior writer for Sports Illustrated, offers a warts-and-all portrait of the Red Sox star but also shows Williams' wit, empathy, intelligence, uncommon loyalty to those he called friends, and unswerving commitment to excellence (in hitting, fishing, hunting, and piloting). Exploring the many aspects of this complex sports icon through first-person interviews, newspaper accounts, magazine articles, and other print sources, Montville shows Williams lashing out at fans and battling the Boston press, but he also recounts the off-the-field triumphs: the "hero" in the subtitle stems not so much from Williams' baseball exploits as from his two stints as a marine pilot, one in World War II, the other in Korea. Ted Williams would have been a difficult man to befriend, but on the basis of Montville's work and David Halberstam's Teammates [BKL Mr 15 03], it appears that the effort was usually dwarfed by the reward of being in The Kid's inner circle. Expect this evenhanded reassessment to draw the kind of attention given to Jane Leavy's Sandy Koufax (2002). Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Ted Williams is one of the greatest baseball players of all time. His .406 batting average stands as of the game's greatest accomplishments and is still the benchmark average that modern players aim towards. Leigh Montvale's Ted Williams: The Biography Of An American Hero is the most extensive book about the Splendid Splinter. Despite the fanfare, the book is a disappointment. Mr. Montvale spends far too much time on Mr. Williams' life after baseball than his time within the game. To any reader of any sports biography, the most important aspect of the book should be the subject's athletic career. No one wants to read just an expanded stat sheet, but Mr. Montvale concentrates too much of the book on Mr. Williams' life outside of baseball. The 1941 season has some detail, but the 1946 is almost written as an afterthought. That season ended in Mr. Williams' only trip to the World Series in his long career. His two Triple Crown seasons of 1942 & 1947 are mentioned in passing. Mr. Montvale does do an excellent job of explained the bitter rivalry between Mr. Williams and the Boston sportswriters. But again, he spends too much time into the background of the writers (one doesn't really care about the life history of Mr. Williams' fiercest critic, Dave Egan, but we get that). Mr. Montvale does go into great detail about Mr. Williams' three marriages and his fishing life on the Florida Keys and Canada. This is interesting, to a point, but these aspects of his life should have been given the secondary nature that his career received. Mr. Montvale also conveys Mr. Williams as an impetuous, foul-mouthed crank and relays countless stories from acquaintances and loved ones who hammer this point home. Included is a word for word interview with Mr.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
The problem with most sports books is that they come off as one long box score, with just the most basic personal information, usually written at the Jr. High School level.
Leigh Montville has a home run(pardon the pun)with this book. A real, complete, mature biography. Williams from birth to death bed, in a fair and balanced fashion--what a biography is supposed to be. It is too easy to either idolize the subject of a biography, or to tear them down by airing all their diry laundry. To his credit, Montville does neither. Ted Williams comes off as an amazing athlete, pilot and fisherman. A perfectionist man's man, who often jumped to the aid of the sick and down and out. A lousy father and poor husband. A cranky individualist who didn't always like people around, but who nevertheless would be there for you in a second if times were bad.
In short, a human being, a man. Telling that life story is what a biography is all about.
With the people who knew Ted in his prime growing old, this will probably turn out to be the definitive Ted Williams book. Thanks to Leigh Montville for getting it right.
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Format: Hardcover
If I read a biography of a U.S. president, I expect that a vast majority of the content deals with his work as president. Similarly, when reading a biography of one of the all-time greats in baseball history, I expect detailed analysis of his baseball career. Oddly, Leigh Montville's new biography of Ted Williams disappoints, with precious few new insights into Williams' extraordinary career. Instead, Montville appears more interested in William's dysfunctional family life and fishing exploits.
In addition to these problems, the writing style Montville utilizes is choppy and haphazard, jumping awkwardly from topic to topic while seemingly attempting to provide a historical and cultural context for Williams' life and work. Unfortunately, this only serves to give the impression that the edition is quirky and unorganized.
This is one of the largest collections of stories and anecdotes of Williams' life outside of baseball. But if you are a baseball fan you will likely be disappointed in this biography.
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Format: Hardcover
Ever since my Little League-youth, when my grandfather used to regale us with tales of the Splendid Splinter, I've always considered Ted Williams my favorite of the Greats. So I was excited to see this book released but found it disappointing.
Montville tries to be too artsy with his style: one-word sentences, one-word paragraphs, lots of repetition. For the most part, the prose is readable, but it clashes with the book's subject, who was many things, maybe even a bit of a rebel, but not artsy.
Worse, for a book that approaches 500 pages of text, it is surprisingly superficial. Williams's World War II service gets a chapter, as does his more eventful Korean War experience; both chapters are thin and barely scratch the surface. Even the 1941 season (.406!!) gets lean treatment. I like the parallel he tries to draw with Joe DiMaggio (The Streak!!)--Montville writes, "Edge: DiMaggio" or "Edge: Williams"--but I wish he would have explored it more.
Before the book is halfway through, Williams retires from playing (the chapter on his last game is probably the book's best; Montville nicely captures the atmosphere of The Kid's famous last at bat--and no tip of the hat), and the book then focuses on his marriages, his fishing, his work for Sears, as well as a fair amount of gossip-type stories. The main character of the second part is Ted's son John-Henry. At times, Ted drops out entirely as Montville recounts the life and despicable behavior of the son, who used his father as a money-making machine.
I finished knowing more about John-Henry than Ted. Too often, Montville lets his sources speak for themselves rather than crafting a narrative from his interviews. The end result is a very distant portrait of Williams; we see him mostly and explicitly through other people's eyes. I'll stick with My Turn at Bat.
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