The Last Hero by Howard Bryant
A Life of Henry Aaron

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In the thirty-four years since his retirement, Henry Aaron’s reputation has only grown in magnitude: he broke existing records (rbis, total bases, extra-base hits) and set new ones (hitting at least thirty home runs per season fifteen times, becoming the first player in history to hammer five hundred home runs and three thousand hits). But his influence extends beyond statistics, and at long last here is the first definitive biography of one of baseball’s immortal figures.
Based on meticulous research and interviews with former teammates, family, two former presidents, and Aaron himself, The Last Hero chronicles Aaron’s childhood in segregated Alabama, his brief stardom in the Negro Leagues, his complicated relationship with celebrity, and his historic rivalry with Willie Mays—all culminating in the defining event of his life: his shattering of Babe Ruth’s all-time home-run record.
Bryant also examines Aaron’s more complex second act: his quest to become an important voice beyond the ball field when his playing days had ended, his rediscovery by a public disillusioned with today’s tainted heroes, and his disappointment that his career home-run record was finally broken by Barry Bonds during the steroid era, baseball’s greatest scandal.
Bryant reveals how Aaron navigated the upheavals of his time—fighting against racism while at the same time benefiting from racial progress—and how he achieved his goal of continuing Jackie Robinson’s mission to obtain full equality for African-Americans, both in baseball and society, while he lived uncomfortably in the public spotlight. Eloquently written, detailed and penetrating, this is a revelatory portrait of a complicated, private man who through sports became an enduring American icon.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Howard Bryant

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Howard Bryant is a journalist covering the New York Yankees for the Bergen Record. He previously covered the Oakland A's for the San Jose Mercury News and was an editorial writer and technology columnist for the Oakland Tribune. He grew up in Boston during the busing crisis of the 1970s and has written extensively on race and baseball. His pieces have appeared in the books Thinking Black, The Red Sox Century, and the forthcoming Yankee Century. He lives in New York City.
Published April 30, 2010 by Anchor. 640 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Sports & Outdoors, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Last Hero

Publishers Weekly

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This biography of the African-American baseball great doesn't amount to the epic it wants to be. ESPN reporter Bryant (Juicing the Game ) portrays Aaron'

Mar 15 2010 | Read Full Review of The Last Hero: A Life of Henr...

The New York Times

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Thirty-six years after Henry Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record, a proper full-dress biography has appeared.

May 09 2010 | Read Full Review of The Last Hero: A Life of Henr...

The New York Times

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Howard Bryant’s illuminating biography of Henry Aaron shows how persistent racism was in baseball through the 1970s.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The Last Hero: A Life of Henr...

The Washington Post

Bryant richly conveys what the passage of time meant in Aaron's short Negro League stint: "Henry Aaron's month in the Negro Leagues was nothing less than the final period on the obituary of the great black leagues."

May 23 2010 | Read Full Review of The Last Hero: A Life of Henr...

Denver Post

Just when it seemed like all the great baseball subjects had been done, Howard Bryant checks in with "The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron," which, amazingly, Aaron had to wait 34 years to get.

Jun 05 2010 | Read Full Review of The Last Hero: A Life of Henr...

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