• The Last Hero

  • A Life of Henry Aaron
  • By: Howard Bryant
  • Narrated by: Dominic Hoffman
  • Length: 21 hrs and 49 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (123 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In the 34 years since his retirement, Henry Aaron’s reputation has only grown in magnitude: He broke existing records (rbis, total bases, extra-base hits) and set new ones (hitting at least 30 home runs per season 15 times, becoming the first player in history to hammer 500 home runs and three thousand hits). But his influence extends beyond statistics, and at long last here is the first definitive biography of one of baseball’s immortal figures.

Based on meticulous research and interviews with former teammates, family, two former presidents, and Aaron himself, The Last Hero chronicles Aaron’s childhood in segregated Alabama, his brief stardom in the Negro Leagues, his complicated relationship with celebrity, and his historic rivalry with Willie Mays - all culminating in the defining event of his life: his shattering of Babe Ruth’s all-time home-run record.

Bryant also examines Aaron’s more complex second act: His quest to become an important voice beyond the ball field when his playing days had ended, his rediscovery by a public disillusioned with today’s tainted heroes, and his disappointment that his career home-run record was finally broken by Barry Bonds during the steroid era, baseball’s greatest scandal.

Bryant reveals how Aaron navigated the upheavals of his time - fighting against racism while at the same time benefiting from racial progress - and how he achieved his goal of continuing Jackie Robinson’s mission to obtain full equality for African-Americans, both in baseball and society, while he lived uncomfortably in the public spotlight. Eloquently written, detailed, and penetrating, this is a revelatory portrait of a complicated, private man who through sports became an enduring American icon.

©2010 Howard Bryant (P)2010 Random House

Critic Reviews

"Plenty of baseball for the fan, but even more insight into why Aaron matters beyond the game." ( Kirkus Reviews)
"Bryant evokes the apparently distant world marked by cruel segregation, racism, and poverty of the soul, as well as reliving some of the greatest moments of baseball. A most welcome book, most highly recommended." ( Library Journal)

What listeners say about The Last Hero

Average Customer Ratings
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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

The Last Hero; A Life of Henry Aaron

The truth be told, I am a huge baseball fan so I love these books about the players I watched as I grew up. This book is a really interesting story, includes lots of baseball detail, and offers insight into the history of the sport during Aaron's great career. The reader is good, though someone should have checked the pronunciation of well-known player's names before releasing this audiobook (thus the 4 out of 5 stars). For example, it was distracting and irritating to hear the reader mispronoun Red Schoendienst (I didn't recognize who he was talking about at first) and Bill Virdon's names. Still, this is a small glitch, overlook it and enjoy this book. If you like this, read the wonderful biographies of Clemente and Koufax too.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

GREAT STORY but blame the producers for misreads

Dominic Hoffman is easy to listen to. But how can Random House or ANY publishing house not provide someone who apparently does not know baseball well with pronunciations of FAMOUS men and CITIES? I do not blame Hoffman. He's a terrific narrator but these misreads, as already said by other reviews, make the book almost grating. I love Henry Aaron and the book itself was fascinating. I had even forgiven the mispronunciations from Sisler to Schoendinst (although how can you not know that Bradenton, Florida is BRAY-den-ton not BRAD-en-ton? Frustrating!). But then, all of the sudden, toward the end even more recent names like Gary Gaetti were mangled. How can the final director and editor not check all this??? Did EVERYONE not realize that 99% of the purchasers of this book would be historical baseball fans? There are, literally, probably over 25 mispronunciations that then get repeated again and again and it destroyed my enjoyment of the story.

I think that the publisher should pay Mr. Hoffman to do the book again. Complete new contract and re-do this important story with the right names, cities, etc. He is a good choice for the narration. It is awful that they did not supply the actor with the tools to make this good audiobook a phenomenal audiobook. I give 4 stars for performance only because Mr. Hoffman could have probably done his own research on city pronunciations but, again, I don't fault him and will gladly listen to other books he narrates. Fire the director and shame on the publishers to allow these mangles wreck the story of a truly remarkable man.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Book

Love the book it was long but he had an amazing life. I did not think it was possible but I appreciate him more. I even bought the hard copy for my library. I heard about the book on the Black Diamonds podcast.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Hard to follow

Interesting subject and story but good Lord it’s hard to follow. A particular game will be in the process of being discussed then it will randomly start narrating a different player/season/game for no particular reason. Then it will go back to a different game/season/player in a random past/present/future. It is the least linear book I’ve ever encountered and it’s confusing to even know who they are talking about or why throughout the book.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Book, Hampered by Mispronunciations

The story was excellent because it covered more than just Mr. Aaron’s baseball career but also the times in which he lived. Incredible to think of the racism he (and others) endured - but it still persists today.

The reader had a good voice, and he did a relatively good job. HOWEVER, the mispronunciation of people and places (Skowron, Sisler, Bradenton, Bruton, Bowie, the list is long) takes away from the story. He should have been given a glossary of names and how to pronounce them.

I should note that this (mispronunciation) is common in baseball non-fiction books - UNLESS read by the author. So beware.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent biography, largely well read.

Audible really should have the author brief the readers on the pronunciation of names. Many players’ names were mangled—-all of them from the 1950s and early 60s. I know because I have listened to the games on radio and tv since the mid-1950s. Examples:

Billy Bruton is pronounced BROO-ton, not Brutton
Red Schoendienst is pronounced SHAYNE-deenst, not SHOW-en-dynst
Johnny Podres is pronounced PAh-dres, not POH-dres
Carl Furillo is not pronounced Foorilyo
Bill Skowron is not pronounced SKOH-ron
Ryne Duren’s first name: RYNE, not Ryan
Tony Cloninger is pronounced CLAH-ninger, not CLOH-ninger
Sal Maglie is not pronounced MAY-glie
It’s a pity to soil a great book and good reading voice with such easily avoidable gaffs.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointing narration

The subject, Henry Aaron, is one of the most interesting imaginable. He flew below the general public's radar during the first fifteen years of his career, so this book is very insightful.

The narration is disappointing. The reader mispronounces the names of several baseball figures (among them, Bruton, Dittmer, and Veeck) and locations (Bradenton). Although many may claim that it doesn't matter, it is grating to those who have followed the game closely and know the names and places.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent book. Read by a man who I unfamiliar with baseball.

One of the best written baseball biographies I’ve ever seen, read, or even heard of. Bryant is successful in painting a portrait of Henry (the man), and delineating him from Hank (the myth).

The reader’s performance however is maddening to a fan of the game. Hoffman mangles the names of baseball players past and present for the entirety of the book. He even manages to mangle the names of places like Bradenton, Florida. It’s a rough go for those familiar historically with the names of these people and places.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Laughably bad narration and too much filler

There is very little here that has any real depth and too much of the book is filler like repeating play by play from games by a narrator that has almost never seen a baseball game in his life. He almost seems to go out of his way to butcher the pronunciation of as many names, words, and cities as possible.

Save your money

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

a historical baseball book lacking any insight.

a significant portion of this book is recounting baseball games from 70 years ago and the names of players of that era. extremely boring for anyone who's not a historical baseball fan.

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