three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
17-July-Aug-2005
By: 
Jonathan Eig
user_rating: 
0

The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig

A-LuckiestManWhile baseball’s credibility continues to tarnish under the weight of salary arbitrations and steroid use, Eig has provided some welcome nostalgia in this focused, well-detailed biography of famed slugger Lou Gehrig. With plenty of research from which to draw, Eig paints a picture of "Iron Horse," the New York Yankee who not only set the record for most consecutive games played—a whopping 2,130—but also possessed the iconic features that the public adored and sports fans idolized. In Luckiest Man, readers get a first-hand look at what made Gehrig a great first baseman, a victim of a neurodegenerative disease, and—more importantly—a hero.
Simon & Schuster. 420 pages. $26.
ISBN: 0743245911

Dallas Morning News 4 of 5 Stars
"Mr. Eig’s keen analysis of game stories allows us to see inside the dugout, the clubhouse and owners’ offices, and to the heart of competition. You might as well shell peanuts while you’re reading, you feel that close." Lois Reed

Seattle Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Eig has meticulously researched Gehrig’s life, drawing on old newspaper clippings, newsreel footage, some of Gehrig’s personal correspondence and interviews with old players. … Eig makes baseball history come alive …"
John B. Saul

Baltimore Sun 3.5 of 5 Stars
"If there is an underlying theme in Luckiest Man, Jonathan Eig’s well-researched new biography of tragic baseball hero Lou Gehrig, it might be this: The devil really is in the details, even when the subject is one of the legendary angels of sport. … The Mayo Clinic letters appear to show that the medical staff withheld the true nature of the rare neurological disorder from him until Gehrig was in the late stages of the disease." Peter Schmuck

Chicago Tribune 3.5 of 5 Stars
"[T]he Lou Gehrig he depicts is a noble, sympathetic character who dies in the prime of an accomplished life. … Luckiest Man is a compelling and haunting read, a worthwhile way to get back into baseball…" Dan McGrath

Philadelphia Inquirer 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The title of Jonathan Eig’s excellent biography is not entirely ironic, though you can be forgiven for thinking that a gifted athlete cut down in his prime by a wasting disease is not a lucky man. … Eig shows impressive scholarship in his biography." Peter Clarey

Washington Post 3 of 5 Stars
"It is entirely appropriate that, after all these years, Gehrig is the subject of a full biography that treats him not just as a superb athlete but also as an admirable, if far from flawless, human being. … Luckiest Man is good, solid work." Jonathan Yardley

Critical Summary

Rarely do biographies capture the pure essence of an individual without burdening the reader with useless trivia and fact. Eig, a senior reporter at The Wall Street Journal, manages to avoid these pitfalls by churning out a critically-applauded biography of baseball phenom and "momma’s boy" Lou Gehrig. Eig does his homework, presenting the story of a slugger who, in the 1920s and 1930s, broke baseball records and, upon his death, America’s heart. Using archival newspaper clippings, interviews, baseball footage, and Mayo Clinic correspondence, among other sources, Eig brings to life the story of an American hero known as much for his unbelievable athleticism as for his unexpected illness.