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Jackie Robinson: A Biography

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The extraordinary life of Jackie Robinson is illuminated as never before in this full-scale biography by Arnold Rampersad, who was chosen by Jack's widow, Rachel, to tell her husband's story, and was given unprecedented access to his private papers. We are brought closer than we have ever been to the great ballplayer, a man of courage and quality who became a pivotal The extraordinary life of Jackie Robinson is illuminated as never before in this full-scale biography by Arnold Rampersad, who was chosen by Jack's widow, Rachel, to tell her husband's story, and was given unprecedented access to his private papers. We are brought closer than we have ever been to the great ballplayer, a man of courage and quality who became a pivotal figure in the areas of race and civil rights. Born in the rural South, the son of a sharecropper, Robinson was reared in southern California. We see him blossom there as a student-athlete as he struggled against poverty and racism to uphold the beliefs instilled in him by his mother--faith in family, education, America, and God. We follow Robinson through World War II, when, in the first wave of racial integration in the armed forces, he was commissioned as an officer, then court-martialed after refusing to move to the back of a bus. After he plays in the Negro National League, we watch the opening of an all-American drama as, late in 1945, Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers recognized Jack as the right player to break baseball's color barrier--and the game was forever changed. Jack's never-before-published letters open up his relationship with his family, especially his wife, Rachel, whom he married just as his perilous venture of integrating baseball began. Her memories are a major resource of the narrative as we learn about the severe harassment Robinson endured from teammates and opponents alike; about death threats and exclusion; about joy and remarkable success. We watch his courageous response to abuse, first as a stoic endurer, then as a fighter who epitomized courage and defiance. We see his growing friendship with white players like Pee Wee Reese and the black teammates who followed in his footsteps, and his embrace by Brooklyn's fans. We follow his blazing career: 1947, Rookie of the Year; 1949, Most Valuable Player; six pennants in ten seasons, and 1962, induction into the Hall of Fame. But sports were merely one aspect of his life. We see his business ventures, his leading role in the community, his early support of Martin Luther King Jr., his commitment to the civil rights movement at a crucial stage in its evolution; his controversial associations with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Humphrey, Goldwater, Nelson Rockefeller, and Malcolm X. Rampersad's magnificent biography leaves us with an indelible image of a principled man who was passionate in his loyalties and opinions: a baseball player who could focus a crowd's attention as no one before or since; an activist at the crossroads of his people's struggle; a dedicated family man whose last years were plagued by illness and tragedy, and who died prematurely at fifty-two. He was a pathfinder, an American hero, and he now has the biography he deserves. From the Hardcover edition.


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The extraordinary life of Jackie Robinson is illuminated as never before in this full-scale biography by Arnold Rampersad, who was chosen by Jack's widow, Rachel, to tell her husband's story, and was given unprecedented access to his private papers. We are brought closer than we have ever been to the great ballplayer, a man of courage and quality who became a pivotal The extraordinary life of Jackie Robinson is illuminated as never before in this full-scale biography by Arnold Rampersad, who was chosen by Jack's widow, Rachel, to tell her husband's story, and was given unprecedented access to his private papers. We are brought closer than we have ever been to the great ballplayer, a man of courage and quality who became a pivotal figure in the areas of race and civil rights. Born in the rural South, the son of a sharecropper, Robinson was reared in southern California. We see him blossom there as a student-athlete as he struggled against poverty and racism to uphold the beliefs instilled in him by his mother--faith in family, education, America, and God. We follow Robinson through World War II, when, in the first wave of racial integration in the armed forces, he was commissioned as an officer, then court-martialed after refusing to move to the back of a bus. After he plays in the Negro National League, we watch the opening of an all-American drama as, late in 1945, Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers recognized Jack as the right player to break baseball's color barrier--and the game was forever changed. Jack's never-before-published letters open up his relationship with his family, especially his wife, Rachel, whom he married just as his perilous venture of integrating baseball began. Her memories are a major resource of the narrative as we learn about the severe harassment Robinson endured from teammates and opponents alike; about death threats and exclusion; about joy and remarkable success. We watch his courageous response to abuse, first as a stoic endurer, then as a fighter who epitomized courage and defiance. We see his growing friendship with white players like Pee Wee Reese and the black teammates who followed in his footsteps, and his embrace by Brooklyn's fans. We follow his blazing career: 1947, Rookie of the Year; 1949, Most Valuable Player; six pennants in ten seasons, and 1962, induction into the Hall of Fame. But sports were merely one aspect of his life. We see his business ventures, his leading role in the community, his early support of Martin Luther King Jr., his commitment to the civil rights movement at a crucial stage in its evolution; his controversial associations with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Humphrey, Goldwater, Nelson Rockefeller, and Malcolm X. Rampersad's magnificent biography leaves us with an indelible image of a principled man who was passionate in his loyalties and opinions: a baseball player who could focus a crowd's attention as no one before or since; an activist at the crossroads of his people's struggle; a dedicated family man whose last years were plagued by illness and tragedy, and who died prematurely at fifty-two. He was a pathfinder, an American hero, and he now has the biography he deserves. From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for Jackie Robinson: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brina

    Arnold Rampersad's biography of Jackie Robinson is the monthly selection for the baseball book club for December 2018. Rampersad, who has also written biopics of Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison, was selected by Robinson's widow Rachel to tell his story some twenty years after his passing. As a baseball fanatic I grew up knowing the basics, that in 1947, Jackie Robinson integrated baseball when he suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15. By doing so, Robinson had agree to not fight back Arnold Rampersad's biography of Jackie Robinson is the monthly selection for the baseball book club for December 2018. Rampersad, who has also written biopics of Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison, was selected by Robinson's widow Rachel to tell his story some twenty years after his passing. As a baseball fanatic I grew up knowing the basics, that in 1947, Jackie Robinson integrated baseball when he suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15. By doing so, Robinson had agree to not fight back to abuse for the first two years of what team president Branch Rickey referred to as his noble experiment. Robinson became the leader of the Dodgers and before his playing days were over finally helped his team best the hated Yankees in the World Series in 1955. These are the stories of baseball lore that I grew up with, and, while captivating, they did not tell the full story of Jackie Robinson the person. Rampersad along with Rachel Robinson has told that story, and what a story of achieving the American dream it is. Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born on January 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia, the youngest of five siblings. Georgia was still in the throes of Jim Crow laws and would not witness racial equality until the end of Robinson's life. Desiring a better life for her children, Robinson's mother Mallie made the decision to migrate to Pasadena, California as part of the Great Migration. Along with a dozen other family members, the Robinsons made their way west where Jim Crow was not as rampant. Within two years Mallie purchased a home on the corner lot of 121 Pepper Street, and the home became the sought after destination for all of the neighborhood kids. It was in this environment, albeit in a community that still held out for some vestiges of Jim Crow, that Jack Robinson grew up and developed into a four sport star. From the streets of Pasadena, Jack would graduate to Pasadena Junior College and then to UCLA where he would catch the eye of both national sports writers and of Rachel Isum, his future wife and partner in his endeavours. Rampersad devotes the first half of the book to Jack's childhood and sports playing days in the face of segregation and integration. He did so with dignity and won the respect and friendship of most people he came across, black, white, and any color in between. Most of the sports information was a review for me, but it is always enlightening to read about Robinson, a true American citizen. While I have come to detest the current version of the Dodgers and their big budget spending, the 1940s Brooklyn Dodgers run by Branch Rickey represent to me what was wholesome about both baseball and American society in the first half of the 20th century. Despite this repeat of information, it was a treat to read about Robinson's exploits on the baseball diamond. By 1957; however, all that came to an end as the O'Malley family pushed Rickey out of the Dodgers organization and chose to trade Robinson to the crosstown rival Giants. Declining a trade, Robinson chose to retire from baseball. Within the year, both the Dodgers and Giants would relocate to California, and Jack Robinson had no space within the major league baseball community. Jackie Robinson would devote the last fifteen years of his life to racial integration politics, both in campaigning and in business. A self proclaimed independent, Robinson supported the candidate who he felt represented the needs of black people the best. Robinson's stance would anger many in the African American community who would call him an Uncle Tom or sellout to whites; yet, Robinson stuck to his principles and would support people black or white who would give him and his family the best chance to achieve the American Dream. His work had him cross paths with luminaries as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, President Richard Nixon, Jesse Jackson, and Nelson Rockefeller, for whom he worked as a staff member. Robinson would serve as a role on organizations as the NAACP and worked tirelessly for the rights of African Americans, both on the road campaigning and at membership dinners across the nation. He also wrote a weekly column for the Amsterdam Newspaper out of Harlem as his opinion on race matters was one to be regarded long after his career as an athlete was over. Rachel Robinson broke barriers in her own right as psychiatric nurse on the staff of Yale Teaching Hospital. Rachel returned to get her masters degree while raising three teenaged children at a time when the glass ceiling had not been shattered, especially for African American women. That she did so when Jack was still on the road campaigning for civil rights took a toll on their family's life; yet, Jack in his own way was proud of Rachel's achievements. It has been said that only the good die young. Jackie Robinson succumbed to diabetes on October 24, 1972 at the age of 53. He had just been honored by major league baseball on the occasion of the twenty fifth anniversary of his integrating the sport. Rachel Robinson took over his fledgling Jackie Robinson Foundation, which today is run by her children Sharon and David, which awards scholarships to promising high school students of color to attend the university of their choice. In 1997, fifty years following his integration of baseball, the major leagues retired his number 42. Each year on April 15, baseball recognizes Jackie Robinson Day, and, fittingly, all players wear number 42. Yet, Jackie Robinson was more than number 42 on the Dodgers. He was a loving husband and father and a tireless campaigner for civil rights across many platforms. Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom post humous, Jackie Robinson is regarded as one of the standout American citizens of the 20th century and a man whose life it is always a joy to read about. 4.5 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jim Marshall

    I am often struck by the way American popular culture cherry picks the virtues of its heroes. We all know the story of Jackie Robinson—a stellar African American athlete who starred in multiple sports at USC and was selected by Brooklyn Dodgers’ manager Branch Rickey to be the first African American to play major league baseball. Robinson was taunted and threatened, hit in the head with fastballs on multiple occasions, and often the victim of clear rule violations. Yet he remained cool, I am often struck by the way American popular culture cherry picks the virtues of its heroes. We all know the story of Jackie Robinson—a stellar African American athlete who starred in multiple sports at USC and was selected by Brooklyn Dodgers’ manager Branch Rickey to be the first African American to play major league baseball. Robinson was taunted and threatened, hit in the head with fastballs on multiple occasions, and often the victim of clear rule violations. Yet he remained cool, unshaken, unperturbed, and played a graceful, playful game of baseball. That is the story that the recent movie “42” gave us, it’s what Ken Burns gave us in his documentary about baseball, and it’s what the bits and pieces of oral history you might have heard at a bar and tap your father frequented when you were growing up. It’s a great story in that it bravely shows the racist side of our character while giving us a disarmingly safe and non-violent hero who withstands every challenge he faces. It’s a liberal, Rosa Parks kind of story, and it makes us feel good about how far we’ve come. But it’s not quite the whole story, as the deeply researched and cleanly written new biography from Arnold Rampersad makes clear. Robinson did what Rickey asked him to do, but he resented it most of the time, was angry most of the time, and worried about money most of the time. He was a deeply religious, deeply conservative man who admired Richard Nixon greatly, who was critical and fearful of Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, who sold his name to a range of business interests after leaving baseball, and who engaged in a number of sharp business practices himself when he opened ventures on his own. Even to his wife, who loved him loyally and with very clear eyes, he was often insensitive, even cruel. None of this undermines what Robinson did for baseball in his playing days nor does it tarnish the courage he showed as he walked on to the field every afternoon, especially in southern cities like St. Louis and Baltimore. But by reducing Robinson’s story to something that could be printed on the back of a baseball card, we are leaving out the very complicated reality that makes Robinson’s role in baseball history so human and so important. Robinson overcame so much in himself to do what he did; he had to conquer his own demons as well as the shitheads who were screaming at him. To render those demons invisible is to make his accomplishments a cartoon instead of an important part of history. Rampersad has fixed that for Robinson, and as the author of definitive biographies of Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, and Arthur Ashe, he is doing a great deal to tell true stories about the African American past before those stories, like Robinson’s, slip into the limp legends that everyone knows. Full disclosure: I took a class with Arnold Rampersad when he was a new professor at the University of Virginia in 1975. He doesn’t remember me—I got a B+--but I’ve been trying to follow his scholarship ever since.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Brewer

    One of 10 books I have recently read about Robinson and clearly the most authorative. Mere words are inadequate to sum up the amazing, thrilling, chilling, and groundbreaking life that was Jackie Robinson's, but Arnold Rampersad has done a fabulous job of breathing life into words and into the man who helped change America in the most startling and powerful ways imaginable. And indeed, for the better.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    I enjoyed this biography because it does not look at Robinson's life through hagiographic lenses, but at the same time treats him with respect. The relationship between Dodger owner Branch Rickey and Jackie is especially interesting and moving in the great admiration they had for each other up to Rickey's death. Over half the book is spent on Jackie's life after retirement involving the civil rights movement of the 196o's and is quite interesting in how his life sometimes was in conflict with I enjoyed this biography because it does not look at Robinson's life through hagiographic lenses, but at the same time treats him with respect. The relationship between Dodger owner Branch Rickey and Jackie is especially interesting and moving in the great admiration they had for each other up to Rickey's death. Over half the book is spent on Jackie's life after retirement involving the civil rights movement of the 196o's and is quite interesting in how his life sometimes was in conflict with some black leaders of his generation such as Adam Clayton Powell and white political leaders such as Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon. Highly recommended.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gaye Ingram

    Back when people listened to baseball games on radio, I was one of two people in my school whose favorite baseball team was the Brooklyn Dodgers. The other person was my best friend Marie, who was Italian, and she didn't listen to broadcasts of the games. I did. In my memory, they are visual. I see Jackie Robinson sliding into third base and the Giants' third baseman (It was always the Giants) and the baseline coach stomping the grass with rage at the call. Robinson gets up, dusts himself off, Back when people listened to baseball games on radio, I was one of two people in my school whose favorite baseball team was the Brooklyn Dodgers. The other person was my best friend Marie, who was Italian, and she didn't listen to broadcasts of the games. I did. In my memory, they are visual. I see Jackie Robinson sliding into third base and the Giants' third baseman (It was always the Giants) and the baseline coach stomping the grass with rage at the call. Robinson gets up, dusts himself off, grins. Red Barber, the announcer, laughs. From the time I was in the third grade until the Dodgers left Brooklyn, I was faithful to them. They were my team. Looking back, I realize my attachment began as a political affair of the heart, an assertion of independence. I lived in Louisiana, and in Louisiana everybody was first of all devoted to the St. Louis Cardinals, then the closest thing we had to a Southern team, and to the New York Yankees. Squeaky-clean teams filled with dull Anglo Saxons, I thought. Winners. That was what drew the boys in my classes to the Yankees. A blond, somewhat round little Anglo girl myself, I wanted nothing to do with that. I loved underdogs, folks who came from behind to squeak out a win. Boys who were discovered in some Sunday afternoon cowfield in Oklahoma and went on to glory. I'd read all those John Tunis books, and that was my style---underdogs. Also diversity, though that was not the name for it them. A team with Italians, Jews, blacks, mixed in with white southerners, preferably. I was also a democrat. I was explaining this to my husband one day. "Italians, the Dodgers had Italians, like Campanello...." He interrupted me to tell me that in Campy I had a double-winner: he was both Italian and black. Vince Scully had not mentioned that, and it would have gladdened my heart if he had. If you love underdogs and you're into democracy and you're a girl, Jackie Robinson is the perfect player. And he and Pee Wee Reese, who was kind to Robinson and collaborated with him on double plays, became my heroes. Especially Robinson. I hated the people who were unkind to him, remembered him and his family in my nightly prayers. I spoke up on his behalf when the boys made cruel racial comments. So as an adult, I was a little afraid to read a biography of Robinson. After all, everybody has flaws in real life. I wanted to keep the childhood memory pure. But I also really wanted to know about Robinson's life. I'd seen the PBS "Baseball" series that gave his career considerable attention, but a film is not a book. It can't tell you things a book can tell you. That's how I came to order this book. I wanted to read a good biography of a man who had been a childhood hero. And I'm glad I found this one, which is really a well-written book. With someone like Robinson, who took so much abuse when he entered lily-white baseball, it would be easy to sentimentalize your subject, to lapse into pity from time to time. Rampersad doesn't do that. He tells a straight story, and while he obviously likes his subject, he did the kind of deep research that places Robinson in a large context. Whereas once I had admired the idea of Robinson the baseball player, as I read this book, I came to admire the character of the man. I have lived my entire life in the American South, and I thought I could imagine the indignities to which black people had been subjected in a segregated world, but I couldn't. Rampersad's description of Robinson's trip to Florida training camp with his wife, Rachel, whom he'd met at UCLA and who was a beautiful, refined woman, was something I could not have imagined. This biographer tells a story many either could not tell or would lack the skill to tell without editorializing. Far from being disappointed in Jackie Robinson, I was disappointed in myself, that my view of him had been so shallow. I recommend the book highly. Rampersad is a good writer. He knows how to tell a story. And what impressed me was how deeply he had researched his subject. His book fleshed out all those names from my radio-listening and sports-page-reading days, made me love Branch Ricky, taught me things about courage that all of us need to know, and satisfied curiosity I'd not known I had. A very good read and an uplifting life!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    I read books about baseball each summer, which is what I thought Jackie Robinson, a biography, would be primarily about, and while the author does of course cover Robinson's breaking the color barrier and all that he went through in his 11-year professional baseball career, this is also a book about the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. When he retired from baseball due to age and injuries, Robinson devoted himself to civil rights while also pursuing various business ventures to I read books about baseball each summer, which is what I thought Jackie Robinson, a biography, would be primarily about, and while the author does of course cover Robinson's breaking the color barrier and all that he went through in his 11-year professional baseball career, this is also a book about the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. When he retired from baseball due to age and injuries, Robinson devoted himself to civil rights while also pursuing various business ventures to support his family. Author Arnold Rampersad helps us understand why Robinson became a Republican and a supporter of Richard Nixon, Nelson Rockefeller and other "liberal" Republicans. He also reports on the squabbles that Robinson got into with Black leaders even including Martin Luther King Jr. whose criticism of the War in Vietnam bothered Robinson. The qualities that made Robinson the ideal person for Branch Rickey to pick to break the color barrier also made him a leader in the fight for Black equality. He was determined, focused and principled. He didn't back down, although he often foregave. Although he was a Republican, Robinson supported Democrats such as Humbert Humphrey when he thought their hearts were in the right place. He didn't think Blacks should tie themselves too closely to either party--a position that has proven to be the right one over the past 50 years. Rampersad had access to key primary sources. The book reflects the thoroughness of his research and is replete with details taken from interviews, letters and the like. It is, however, well-written and always readable. There are times I wish the author had provided evidence for certain statements, but this would be a fine choice for readers who are interested in baseball, civil rights or both.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    This biography traces the life of a man who climbed the podium of sports to the highest level in order to advance civil rights. Excelling in any sport he tried, it must have been especially difficult to watch his teammates stay at a luxury hotel while he had to suffer Jim Crow lodging conditions. Branch Rickey broke the color barrier with Jackie's introduction to the Brooklyn Dodgers and many fans and players hated this; nonetheless, he played ten years and in six world series. The constant This biography traces the life of a man who climbed the podium of sports to the highest level in order to advance civil rights. Excelling in any sport he tried, it must have been especially difficult to watch his teammates stay at a luxury hotel while he had to suffer Jim Crow lodging conditions. Branch Rickey broke the color barrier with Jackie's introduction to the Brooklyn Dodgers and many fans and players hated this; nonetheless, he played ten years and in six world series. The constant compass in Jackie's life was fighting discrimination through organized non-violence. He worked with governors, presidents, business and civil rights leaders. After doing so well on this path, his rejection of violence caused other blacks to label him an Uncle Tom. Jackie drew strength from his faith and his family, but he did this far better than most of us. He used his business interests to leverage others but with limited success. He died young after many challenges but remains an inspiration. I read this along with my father who was active in social issues in the last half of Jackie's life.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jack Gamba

    I thought that this book did a great job describing the troubles Jackie had in his life on his way to the top. The author took you on a journey from his life growing up in the South ,to his first baseball game for the Broklyn Dodgers. If you read this book you will see first hand accounts of racism described by Jackie. You also get to read about his life in the Army. Even when he was fighting for our country, he was treated badly. Because of a false conviction Jackie was discharged from the I thought that this book did a great job describing the troubles Jackie had in his life on his way to the top. The author took you on a journey from his life growing up in the South ,to his first baseball game for the Broklyn Dodgers. If you read this book you will see first hand accounts of racism described by Jackie. You also get to read about his life in the Army. Even when he was fighting for our country, he was treated badly. Because of a false conviction Jackie was discharged from the Army. All in all this was a great book and I hope everyone has a chance to read it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Riley

    Though Jackie Robinson's place is history is obvious, I had never realized what an outspoken figure on civil rights he was. With today's politics, it seems surprising that Robinson was a vocal Republican, though that is easier to understand when you consider that the Democratic party of his time was plagued by racist southern Dixiecrats, and the GOP still had social moderates like New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mekenzie

    I love baseball so I read this book in middle school and did a book report on it. it was a great book to read and i would recommend it to any child who likes baseball.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bobby

    I like the book for what was the story of jackies life

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Corvera

    Arnold Rampersad's biography of Jackie Robinson about how was Jackie infancy his life growing up, his athletic career, and how he became involved in the civil right. It talks about how his mom Mollie moved from the south to the North to a city called Pasadena. They’re she would raise Jack and his brother and sister. As a kid, Jack would face a lout of Racism because in Pasadena it was about white people. Then it talks about how Jack and his brother Mack were stars in high school his brother a Arnold Rampersad's biography of Jackie Robinson about how was Jackie infancy his life growing up, his athletic career, and how he became involved in the civil right. It talks about how his mom Mollie moved from the south to the North to a city called Pasadena. They’re she would raise Jack and his brother and sister. As a kid, Jack would face a lout of Racism because in Pasadena it was about white people. Then it talks about how Jack and his brother Mack were stars in high school his brother a star In track but, Jack was a different type of breed of human he was a star in 4 different sports Football, Basketball, Baseball, and track. It told you the mayor accomplishment he helped his team achieve. After high school, it tells you how he went to Pasadena Junior college where he would also play 4 sports as well and help them to many more accomplishments.From here he would transfer to Ucla where he would dedicate most of his time to football. Some time would pass by because he was in the army he came back and sign a contract with Dodgers organization. After he was in the minors we was called up he would be the first person to break the color barrier. He would face a lot of hate from people telling him they were going to kill him to them not letting the team staying in the hotel since Jackie was on the team. After he was called up it documents the 11 years he was in the Mayor leagues. Finally it tells you how after he retired he would become a civil right leader.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Saathvik Vangati

    This book chronicles the life of Jackie Robinson, the first African American professional baseball player. Robinson's courage of conviction and the support of his family and friends enabled him to cross the color barrier in baseball, Robinson challenged his critics and the naysayers to accept him as he was: a man, an athlete, and a very talented baseball player. In my opinion, this was one of the best books I have ever read on the fact of how one man has created a legacy for the whole sport of This book chronicles the life of Jackie Robinson, the first African American professional baseball player. Robinson's courage of conviction and the support of his family and friends enabled him to cross the color barrier in baseball, Robinson challenged his critics and the naysayers to accept him as he was: a man, an athlete, and a very talented baseball player. In my opinion, this was one of the best books I have ever read on the fact of how one man has created a legacy for the whole sport of baseball. Would definitely recommend this book to everyone as it really shows the struggles of a young man doing what he loves.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Thomas DeWolf

    I've had this book for some 20 years... not sure why I haven't read it until now... and so glad I just did... in preparation for another season of baseball and rooting for my Dodgers... this book is SO full of detail and stories about Jackie and Rachel Robinson and their family, Branch Rickey, all the challenges Jack faced due to racism, being the "first," and his desire and need to stand tall and strong in the face of it all. My respect for Mr. and Mrs. Robinson was already high. After reading I've had this book for some 20 years... not sure why I haven't read it until now... and so glad I just did... in preparation for another season of baseball and rooting for my Dodgers... this book is SO full of detail and stories about Jackie and Rachel Robinson and their family, Branch Rickey, all the challenges Jack faced due to racism, being the "first," and his desire and need to stand tall and strong in the face of it all. My respect for Mr. and Mrs. Robinson was already high. After reading this biography, it's grown even more. I'm quite grateful to Mr. Rampersad for writing such a compelling book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joel Erickson

    An engrossing book about Robinson, who was a titan of sport and then so much more after that. What's easy to forget about Robinson is the looming figure he cast on the civil rights movement even after he was done playing, and it's a remarkable portrait of a man who stuck to his convictions, even when those convictions drew fire from all sides. Well-reported and incredibly researched.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Really fascinating book. I love baseball, so to read about such an iconic figure during such a prejudiced time was amazing. I remember growing up watching a Disney TV movie and it mentioned him and how it inspired a child to go back playing baseball due to his color. Definitely a wonderful book to read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bekka Pierson

    Genre: Biography - My fourth-grade class read this book together! Of course, it discussed Jackie's life, but it also discussed the way he was treated on baseball teams, in the locker rooms, and in public. He was discriminated against, yet he still prevailed. I would recommend this book to middle schoolers and boys who are interested in baseball greats!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shane Goodridge

    I really enjoyed this book. Robinson's rise through baseball and his unwavering - and uncompromising- commitment to his ideals are awe inspiring. I was aware of most- though not all- of the baseball narrative; however, his political calculations, as an independent, and his relationship with Malcolm X was a revelation. Furthermore, his wife is amazing in her own right and the family dynamics were both inspiring and heartbreaking.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joe Stack

    What I knew about Jackie Robinson was basically limited to what he endured as the first Black player in the major leagues and his impact on the sport, so this well-written, thorough biography filled in the rest, especially his involvement in the fight for civil rights.

  20. 4 out of 5

    The Dali

    Great overview of his life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    A five-star biography of a five-star man.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jaime

    Arnold Rampersad has written a reverent, engrossing and detailed homage to the legacy of Jackie Robinson. With an eye for ac curacy and respect, the author gives us a vivid account of the social, emotional, and professional challenges faced by Jackie Robinson. The reader learns of Robinson's formative childhood experiences and his pursuit of athleticism. As a young man, he grappled with the role of faith in his life and the role model his mother set for him. Eventually, faith became a Arnold Rampersad has written a reverent, engrossing and detailed homage to the legacy of Jackie Robinson. With an eye for ac curacy and respect, the author gives us a vivid account of the social, emotional, and professional challenges faced by Jackie Robinson. The reader learns of Robinson's formative childhood experiences and his pursuit of athleticism. As a young man, he grappled with the role of faith in his life and the role model his mother set for him. Eventually, faith became a cornerstone of his life. Always a competitor and courageous enough to defend himself and others, Robinson was a natural born warrior. It is in the early part of the book that the persona of Jackie Robinson is revealed. One can see that he was the one to be the trailblazer for desegregation of baseball. As the book progresses to to his major league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1047, Robinson goes through a maturing process. Using an incredible amount of self discipline and maturity, he receives the oppressors' anger but remains a man of dignity. Robinson's dealt with the rejection but never retaliated during his rookie year. Always outspoken, Robinson's innate ability to communicate and take a moral stand in the face of hatred and his immense talent eventually won over his peers and fans. Unfortunately, the Dodgers' owner, Walter O'Malley who had always been critical of Robinson attempted trade him after his 10th year. Robinson took the higher road and retired but felt disrespected for his career accomplishments. He would not return to the Dodgers' stage until 1972 when his uniform number (42) was retired by the team. Walter's son, Peter would help heal the wounds. After his 10+ year, Robinson committed himself to the civil rights fight, pursuing entrepreneurship and helping the black business community. From 1958 to 1972, became a VP in personnel and race relations for Choc Full o' Nuts, gained leadership positions and sponsorship roles for NAACP, CORE, National Conference of Christian's and Jews (NCCJ), oversaw several business ventures and took an active role in Dr. Marin Luther King's SCLC civil rights organization. The author details the numerous awards, committee appointments and honorary doctorates that came Robinson's way while emphasizing Robinson's integrity and advocacy for the black community good. Always an eloquent speaker, Robinson was also a radio show host and eventually became a columnist for three newspapers: New York Post, New York Citizen-Call and the Amsterdam News. Through all these venues, Robinson remained vocal and committed to comprehensive integration. In spite of failing health due to failing health (diabetes, congestive heart disease, hypertension and blood circulation to his legs), his eldest son's drug addiction battle and early death, and personal attacks on his character, Robinson remained positive and faithful. Through all this, he was a good and supportive father and husband. During the 1960s, his wife, Rachel finished her educational studies and becoming a psychiatric health director and a professor. Throughout the 1960s, he remained a steadfast Conservative and a Republican campaigner. He was finally honored with his induction into the Hall of Fame in 1962 but was stoic because of the emotional and physical pain he endured as a player. Looking on this book, I describe it is a chronicle of his lifelong fight for civil rights and a historical account of his involvement in most of the major events that led to the Civil Rights Act. As his live wound down, Robinson remained the vocal and fiery advocate for integration and equality. The love and legacy he left are beautifully and respectfully accounted by the author, Arnold Rampersad. This biography is more than a biography about a baseball pioneer, it is the story of a man's heart and willingness to run the gauntlet of hatred and inequality. He fought anti-Semitism, racial hatred on both sides, Jim Crow laws, and inequality. I thoroughly enjoyed this powerful account of a man whose character made him more noble and admirable. This is one of the best books I have ever read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Deandre Wilkerson

    Arnold Rampersad purpose of writing Jackie Robinson was to inform and give an enormous bibliography. Impact can come from how good he was but then also what he went through in life. It gives great thought towards audience. The book shows that history was made and it will work as long as you you provide the reason to make it happen by believing in what can be done. This book will have long lasting value because Jackie Robinson showed that he can do what it takes. Many people still talk about Arnold Rampersad purpose of writing Jackie Robinson was to inform and give an enormous bibliography. Impact can come from how good he was but then also what he went through in life. It gives great thought towards audience. The book shows that history was made and it will work as long as you you provide the reason to make it happen by believing in what can be done. This book will have long lasting value because Jackie Robinson showed that he can do what it takes. Many people still talk about Jackie Robinson today. The book is well written because it tells specific points in the book that ca show you that everything was really being identified in a way. The writing has a few words that people might have to look in order to understand what was going on. It gives a good content that shows that Robinson was able to accomplish something great. When explaining where he grew up, it is good for wanting to get involved with what was going on in his life. Robinson was "a hall of fame athlete and he was born in the rural south"(36). "He was the son of a sharecropper and himself was able to realize it at once"(63) The book is captivating because it catches the eye of anyone who would take the time and read about what happened. It will show that there was history that made earlier in the years back in time. It would take interest because it also would tell that this sport is global in the united states and he made history off of baseball. Jackie had to deal with racism and poverty. That put an effect on his life, but he kept on moving in positive ways. The book was interesting because it tells a good message toward the audience. I wouldn't say it was boring because it shows persuasive in a way that people can make things happen. The strength to this book is very informing. It may show ad tell that Jackie Robinson was influential on young american's. There were weak strengths when he had to deal with a racism. There would't really be detailed. I would recommend this book to various friends because the message would have a great connection toward life. What was going around that time was different from now can be a suggestion of why he should read they should read the book also. Jackie Robinson has positive situations going on.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    This is the fifth or sixth book I've read about Jackie Robinson, and I enjoyed it very much. A few things set it apart. First it went into a lot of detail about his childhood and his college years. Secondly, and I found this significant, it is the only biography I've read so far that highlighted Robinson's religious conviction and the part that it played in his life and in his decision to accept the challenge of integrating baseball. The book gave a very clear sense, that, along with other This is the fifth or sixth book I've read about Jackie Robinson, and I enjoyed it very much. A few things set it apart. First it went into a lot of detail about his childhood and his college years. Secondly, and I found this significant, it is the only biography I've read so far that highlighted Robinson's religious conviction and the part that it played in his life and in his decision to accept the challenge of integrating baseball. The book gave a very clear sense, that, along with other motivating factors, Robinson had a sense that God was calling him to this great task and that God would guide. The impact of spiritual mentors is discussed as well as the time in college when Robinson "rededicated his life to Christ." While focusing on the civil rights causes that Robinson supported in his post-baseball life, the book also talks about the many religious organizations that he spoke to and supported. Branch Rickey is often described as the one in this partnership that was the devoutly Christian man who did what he did out of spiritual conviction, but it was clear that this was also part of Robinson's makeup, though like Rickey there was more to his complex motivations than simple spiritual conviction. But the beauty of this book is that while it doesn't overemphasize Robinson's spiritual life, it doesn't downplay or ignore it either, but includes it as part of what drove him to make a difference. The book is a little long and bogs down a bit in describing the 1960's political/civil rights movement part of Robinson's life , but overall it is a worthwhile read for anyone wanting to get a complete picture of the totality of Robinson's life, though I would still recommend Jules Tygiel's Baseball's Great Experiment as the best book covering solely Robinson's major league career. Also, it is quite clear that this Rampersad's book was source material for a number of the scenes in "42", describing scenes in the movie to a Tee.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joaquin

    The biography Jackie Robinson by Arnold is great book that discusses the struggles and hard ship Jackie had to ace very day well playing in the major leagues. The book discusses the life of Jackie for when he was a kid living in Pasadena to going to UCLA for college. Where love for sports continued and he got better and every day. Before Jackie could finish college he was drafted into the army where he was a second lieutenant. After he got out of the army Jackie was in need of money so he turned The biography Jackie Robinson by Arnold is great book that discusses the struggles and hard ship Jackie had to ace very day well playing in the major leagues. The book discusses the life of Jackie for when he was a kid living in Pasadena to going to UCLA for college. Where love for sports continued and he got better and every day. Before Jackie could finish college he was drafted into the army where he was a second lieutenant. After he got out of the army Jackie was in need of money so he turned back to his athleticism to help him, so that when he started playing in the Negro leagues. Jackie succeeded there and caught the eye of the Dodgers owner Branch Ricky he wanted Jackie to play on his team. He told him he need a black man that was strong and wouldn't let all the name calling and death threats effect his playing on the field. Even thou Jackie had to hold his anger in things got easy for him when his teammate Pee Wee Rees showed that he was on his side and he would cover his back. This book also discussed how Jackie's struggles made it easier for other African Americans to make it to the major leagues. Jackie showed that he could do anything the white players could do. I really enjoyed reading this book it was very interesting and filled with facts. I knew a lot about Jackie but this book just strengthened my facts and taught me new ones. Arnold was very descriptive with the stories in the book and he painted vivid pictures in your head well I was reading it. I felt like I was right there with Jackie when he was taking all the crap people were giving him on and off the field. His book also helps me write my history project. This book is good and I would suggest this book to anyone that likes baseball, or if you just want to learn more about the man that broke the color barrier in baseball. And made history well doing it, he also set the way for future African Americans to come after him. He gave them courage to keep doing what they’re doing.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lucas Underwood

    The book i read is called Jackie Robinson: A Biography by Arnold Rampersad. This story tells us about the man by the name of Jackie Robinson, who made history being the first African American to play in what today would be the MLB. Jackie Robinson did one of the greatest things, which impacted the United States history in a huge way. Jackie Robinson loved the game of baseball, he was a great player. But the age that Jackie lived in it wasn't right for a black man to play ball with all of the The book i read is called Jackie Robinson: A Biography by Arnold Rampersad. This story tells us about the man by the name of Jackie Robinson, who made history being the first African American to play in what today would be the MLB. Jackie Robinson did one of the greatest things, which impacted the United States history in a huge way. Jackie Robinson loved the game of baseball, he was a great player. But the age that Jackie lived in it wasn't right for a black man to play ball with all of the white men. Jackie didn't think this was right along with all of the other men in the African American league. Jackie eventually found himself as the first black man to play in the MLB. Not many people were happy about having him in the league. So Jackie faced lots of discrimination, not just with players but along with fans. They booed, players intentionally hurt him, people threatened the lives of his family, and some teams even refused to play. Jackie fought through all of this hate and made history eventually making baseball an integrated sport. I think any sports fan would love to hear the story of Jackie Robinson. I rated this book four stars because i love baseball, I didn't give it five stars because of the discrimination in the story. But in general Arnold did a fine job sharing jackie's story with the world.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Anup Sinha

    An excellent biography of Jackie Robinson, thorough in its research and not in the least limited to what he did in baseball. What separates this from other Robinson accounts, even his own autobiography, is that Rampersad is evenhanded in dealing with the ordinary aspects of this icon as well as the not so flattering. The book is long (464 pages) and at times the detail bogged me down, but you can certainly skim through parts you have only superficial interest in. It is perfect for a Jackie An excellent biography of Jackie Robinson, thorough in its research and not in the least limited to what he did in baseball. What separates this from other Robinson accounts, even his own autobiography, is that Rampersad is evenhanded in dealing with the ordinary aspects of this icon as well as the not so flattering. The book is long (464 pages) and at times the detail bogged me down, but you can certainly skim through parts you have only superficial interest in. It is perfect for a Jackie Robinson scholar. I gained new appreciation for his tireless civil rights work after retiring and the horrible grief he took from Whites and Blacks alike standing up for justice of all people. I had no idea he was so involved with so many presidential races and was forced to change allegiance multiple times because of broken promises. I am also disgusted at how the Dodgers ultimately treated him, particularly from Walter O'Malley. It is disconcerting that he died without really having a good opinion of the franchise with which he impacted our culture. His lifelong relationship with Branch Rickey, on the other hand, is refreshing. Rickey was also unceremoniously ousted by O'Malley before carpetbagging the whole team to Los Angeles in 1957. Such a shame he died at 52, I think his reverence grew in the 1970s and beyond and I wish he could have been lavished with it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    Thoroughly enjoyed this journey. It is not for the faint of heart, as it is long and detailed and gets a bit tedious at times - almost 500 pages I think. If you don't like baseball you won't enjoy the lengthy recapping of almost every game Robinson ever played in. There were several factors that contributed greatly to my continued interest in this book, though it took me longer than most to finish. First, Jackie Robinson lived at the same time and in the same area as my father and mother. They Thoroughly enjoyed this journey. It is not for the faint of heart, as it is long and detailed and gets a bit tedious at times - almost 500 pages I think. If you don't like baseball you won't enjoy the lengthy recapping of almost every game Robinson ever played in. There were several factors that contributed greatly to my continued interest in this book, though it took me longer than most to finish. First, Jackie Robinson lived at the same time and in the same area as my father and mother. They grew up with him and my dad even went to UCLA with him. I didn't realize that when I started the book. I was able to learn an enormous amount about my own parents' histories from this book. The other gripping feature was how the book revealed the extent of Jim Crow throughout the country at a time when my folks were growing up. It was eye-opening to learn how much racism and discrimination was a part of Pasadena, and California, and areas often considered more accepting and liberal. The South does not have a monopoly on this historical blight. The soul crushing barriers and raw hatred that Robinson faced is well-documented. Great book if you want to know more about recent black history and the civil rights movement beyond what is usually communicated.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mauberley

    I was moved to read this after seeing '42'. I was eager to know more about Robinson and although I am not a huge fan of baseball, I found that the book did a superb job of portraying this complex and utterly self-determined man. As great as his achievement was in baseball, the story of his life before and after the game supersedes even that accomplishment. That said, even if the reader can imagine possessing Robinson's athletic skill - and that in itself requires an enormous leap - very few, I'm I was moved to read this after seeing '42'. I was eager to know more about Robinson and although I am not a huge fan of baseball, I found that the book did a superb job of portraying this complex and utterly self-determined man. As great as his achievement was in baseball, the story of his life before and after the game supersedes even that accomplishment. That said, even if the reader can imagine possessing Robinson's athletic skill - and that in itself requires an enormous leap - very few, I'm sure, will be able to imagine owning the self-possession required to endure the racist cauldron in which those astonishing skills were to flower. It is strange for me to read of Robinson's astonishing embrace of Nelson Rockefeller or his willing testimony to HUAC in response to the Paul Robeson affair but his undying commitment to civil rights and racial equality cannot but inspire. I sense that Robinson's daughter Sharon and son David did not contribute a great deal to the author's research but his widow Rachel plays an enormous role in both Robinson's life and the telling of the story and I commend Rampersad for recognizing this.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Conner Rodriguez

    Name: Conner Rodriguez Date: 5/18/13 Period:4 Book: Jackie Robinson Author: Arnold Rampersad Rate: 5 stars Summary: I chose this book because Jackie Robinson is my favorite baseball player of all time. 1947 might have been one of the most important years in American history because Jackie Robinson was the first black athlete to sign with a white team. Jackie’s patience with all the racism and name calling influenced other white teams to sign blacks. In the book “Jackie Robinson” my favorite quote was Name: Conner Rodriguez Date: 5/18/13 Period:4 Book: Jackie Robinson Author: Arnold Rampersad Rate: 5 stars Summary: I chose this book because Jackie Robinson is my favorite baseball player of all time. 1947 might have been one of the most important years in American history because Jackie Robinson was the first black athlete to sign with a white team. Jackie’s patience with all the racism and name calling influenced other white teams to sign blacks. In the book “Jackie Robinson” my favorite quote was “I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me... All I ask is that you respect me as a human being”. I liked this quote because it doesn’t matter who doesn’t like you it only matters what you think of yourself. I liked the authors perspective because he realizes what a big factor Jackie Robinson was to the segregation towards the blacks. I would recommend this book to any young child that is learning about the first black athletes in any sport and how it changed America.

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