The Boys of Summer
by Roger Kahn
I'm a long-time admirer of Jackie Robinson and his contributions to American sport, but The Boys of Summer took that admiration up another notch. Roger Kahn described Robinson as not just a pioneer, but a fantastic player with a huge competitive streak. There's an interesting scene where the Dodgers are having dinner, and the black players are spread out among the the tables because Robinson believed they should integrate more fully with the team rather than clustering together. Manager Chuck Dressen calls Robinson the best player he ever coached. Moreover, the Robinson Kahn describes is not a pacifist. Branch Rickey made Robinson agree not to fight back for the first two years, but after that his fierce, competitive nature came through. Robinson could be an angry man, and criticized teammate Roy Campanella for being an "Uncle Tom." He is a complex figure, but the stories Kahn flesh him out as a human being rather than just a symbol.