Book details

A Season in the Sun

The Rise of Mickey Mantle

By Randy Roberts, By Johnny Smith

About the Book

The story of Mickey Mantle's magnificent 1956 season

Mickey Mantle was the ideal batter for the atomic age, capable of hitting a baseball harder and farther than any other player in history. He was also the perfect idol for postwar America, a wholesome hero from the heartland.

In A Season in the Sun, acclaimed historians Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith recount the defining moment of Mantle's legendary career: 1956, when he overcame a host of injuries and critics to become the most celebrated athlete of his time. Taking us from the action on the diamond to Mantle's off-the-field exploits, Roberts and Smith depict Mantle not as an ideal role model or a bitter alcoholic, but a complex man whose faults were smoothed over by sportswriters eager to keep the truth about sports heroes at bay. An incisive portrait of an American icon, A Season in the Sun is an essential work for baseball fans and anyone interested in the 1950s.

About the Author

Randy Roberts is distinguished professor of history at Purdue University. An award-winning author, he focuses on the intersection of popular and political culture, and has written or co-written biographies of such iconic athletes and celebrities as Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Bear Bryant, Oscar Robertson, John Wayne and Muhammad Ali, as well as books on the Vietnam War, the Alamo, the 1973-1974 college basketball season, and West Point football during World War II. A Season in the Sun is the second book he has written with Johnny Smith. Roberts lives in Lafayette, Indiana.

Johnny Smith
is the Julius C. "Bud" Shaw Professor in Sports, Society, and Technology and an Assistant Professor of History at Georgia Tech. He is the co-author of Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X (with Randy Roberts) and the author of The Sons of Westwood: John Wooden, UCLA, and the Dynasty That Changed College Basketball. Smith lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
"A brisk account of a career and a culture that presages much of our current-day obsession with celebrity."

David Maraniss, author of Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero
"I loved A Season in the Sun. This compelling book on Mickey Mantle at his greatest and most vulnerable illuminates history and shatters myths at the same time."

Bob Costas, NBC Sports
"Mickey Mantle was a genuinely great baseball player. But at his very best, he was among the greatest of the great. A Season in the Sun vividly illuminates the Mickey Mantle of 1956, when he was at his very best."

John Thorn, official historian, Major League Baseball
"Sex, booze, and an epic home-run race with a ghost: 1956 was a raucous year in baseball, richly recounted here. The homespun heroism of a young Mickey Mantle has endured, even if it was, as authors Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith detail, crafted for the credulous. A Season in the Sun is a shimmering snow globe of a game and a time gone by."

Nathan Corzine, author of Team Chemistry: The History of Drugs and Alcohol in Major League Baseball
"A Season in the Sun is the best book on Mickey Mantle that I've read by some margin. It succeeds in answering the three big questions: how he became an icon, why 1956 was so important, and especially how the "mythologizing" of Mantle can only be understood in the context of the 1950s. Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith stitch together not only a damn good baseball story-I found the game-by-game arc very compelling-but also link Mantle to his times in a way that really makes the book stand out. It's informative, thoughtful, and without being hokey or hagiographic, it is almost a love letter to a lost and often misunderstood period of baseball history."

Howard Bryant, author of The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron

"From the title to its protagonist, A Season in the Sun is baseball: thrilling, heroic, enduring. Mickey Mantle and his times return to us flawed yet still fabulous. Even 60 years later, some stories are so good, they never get old."

Ken Burns


"It is not hard to believe that if Mickey Mantle had been healthy and took better care of his body, he would probably be remembered as the best baseball player ever. This excellent book proves why."