“Breaking Ground: How Jackie Robinson Changed Brooklyn” By Alan Lelchuk
Baseball, memoir, Dodgers, race
August 26, 2015
3 1/2 of 5 stars (good)
From the title of the book, I thought that this would be a book that was part biography and part history lesson. The biography would of course be about Jackie Robinson and the history would be about the borough of Brooklyn and how it changed through both the Dodgers and the broken color barrier in baseball that Robinson achieved.
While the book fell short of this, especially concerning the latter point, this is nonetheless a good short read about what Robinson meant to the life of the author. Alan Lelchuk writes some exquisite prose in his description of Robinson and what the man meant not only to the Lelchuk household but also to Brooklyn as a whole. At times the reader will forget that he or she is reading a book about a baseball player. Robinson seemed to be almost a mythical figure in the eyes of Lelechuk. While it was certainly refreshingly honest, at times it felt to be more idolatry than factual writing.
While not billed as a baseball book per se, the baseball passages are written well and from the point of view of a fan. Of course, all the baseball involves Robinson in some manner but that doesn’t matter. Because of the special skills Robinson brought to the baseball field, such as his speed, and the excitement rarely seen such as a steal of home plate, the baseball talk is very good. If a person just wanted to talk about Robinson with Lelchuk, these passages are very likely what he would tell that person.
Overall, I felt this book to be an entertaining and quick read about Jackie Robinson, but it lacked deep knowledge or insight to be a truly informative book. Nonetheless, any reader who wishes to read something quick about one of the most influential athletes whose achievements meant much more to society than they did to just baseball, this is a fine choice.
I wish to thank Mandel Vilar Press for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.