Almost everyone's heard of baseball legend Hank Aaron, but few really know much about Henry Aaron--the real man behind the icon. This biography, however, digs below the surface. Based on interviews with former teammates, family, and Aaron himself, it chronicles Aaron's journey from his childhood in segregated Alabama to his brief stardom in the Negro leagues all the way to his demolition of Babe Ruth's home run record, plus everything in between. The story isn't limited to baseball, though. Howard portrays Aaron as a complicated person who loved his sport but also wanted to leave behind a legacy off the field, particularly in the area of civil rights and equality for African Americans.
I picked this book up because I like Howard Bryant's column in ESPN: The Magazine, and it definitely lived up to my expectations. It's one of the best biographies I've read in a while. Bryant got some great interviews with Aaron and people close to him. He did his historical research as well, which allowed him to put Aaron's life in context. The storytelling really brings the exciting baseball stories to life, and the issues of racism and segregation are covered well also. It's hard to believe that such blatant discrimination took place just decades ago, and even superstars were not immune to it. After reading this, I feel like I not only know a lot more about Henry Aaron but also understand his impact on the world, on the field and off. And it was just plain interesting and enjoyable.