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Publisher's Summary

Introduction by Kevin Baker  

The Natural, Bernard Malamud's first novel, published in 1952, is also the first - and some would say still the best - novel ever written about baseball. In it Malamud, usually appreciated for his unerring portrayals of postwar Jewish life, took on very different material - the story of a superbly gifted "natural" at play in the fields of the old daylight baseball era - and invested it with the hardscrabble poetry, at once grand and altogether believable, that runs through all his best work. 

Four decades later, Alfred Kazin's comment still holds true: "Malamud has done something which - now that he has done it! - looks as if we have been waiting for it all our lives. He has really raised the whole passion and craziness and fanaticism of baseball as a popular spectacle to its ordained place in mythology."

©1980 Bernard Malamud (P)2019 Audible, Inc.

Featured Article: The Best Baseball Audiobooks of All Time


Ask any baseball fan and they'll tell you: some of their favorite sounds can only be heard at the ballpark—the smooth, satisfying pop of a catcher’s glove as a pitch hits its mark; the crack of a bat as it tears into a fastball, explosive and hopeful, drawing the crowd to their feet. Our list, a roundup of outstanding baseball audiobooks, offers a glimmer of that same ballpark magic with just a few of the greatest stories from our national pastime.

What listeners say about The Natural

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Hidden Audio Gem

I’m shocked at how few reviews are on here—this was not only an incredible story, the narration was near perfect. I hadn’t seen the movie, nor read the book before—but I loved this story.

we all know sports stories, but this one, despite its age, felt fresh. It was constantly surprising. Highly recommended.

2 people found this helpful

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The Natural

Most people who read this book are drawn to it by seeing the movie first, right? Maybe. If you're like me, you're disappointed.

The character of Roy Hobbs is much more of a bumpkin, not the charismatic character portrayed in the movie. The death of his father, the love interest of his boyhood, the son? Nope, no part of this story. Roy does get shot, but years later falls for the fem-fatalé. The silver bullet that near ends Roy's life, let alone career, isn't even mentioned. He does wind up in the hospital, but for stress/exhaustion, something equally mundane. The rest of the story, Pop, Wonderboy, throwing a game, all adheres to the story arc of the movie, except for the ending. No spoilers, but *sniff*, it is nowhere near as thrilling. Not even close.

Yet, the actual field action of "baseball" - good stuff!

The movie is considerably more uplifting. Considerably.

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Not very much like the movie. Reads like a true story & life lesson.

I love the movie and had not known of the book the movie version was based on u til I happened across a movie review by an excellent reviewer who stated in his opinion, Hollywood ruined this story. And that person went on to give an explanation why. After reading that review, I did a search on Audible to see if this book was in audio form. My research showed this book had NEVER before been in an audiobook format of any kind. I contacted Audible and politely asked one of their CS managers if they knew of this book arriving in audio sometime soon? The nice fellow told me he had no information in the Audible database showing a forthcoming audio version. I asked him to please forward my request for this book to be read and out into their audiobook catalog since Amazon already had it in Kindle format. I’ve been with many audiobook companies going back to when audiobooks were read badly, no performance at all and only a available from a few companies for the blind on reel to reel tape requiring a special open reel player to play these recordings which used all four tracks on a simple stereo recorded as individual monophonic voice tracks. The player which didn’t record had a switch to allow users to hear side A track 1 then in reverse hear side A track 2. It did the same for tracks 3 & 4. The first books on cassette were done the same way in case anyone likes trivia. The point of all that is to say....I hope my request was one of many who wanted to hear this book in its original written form by its author. This title showed up as available about two years after I made my request and I’m very glad it did. Such a very different story than the movie version and in my opinion and life experiences....much more how someone with a life filled with opportunities are always destroyed and winds up with next to nothing. A VERY human story.

1 person found this helpful

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OY! I LIKED THE MOVIE BETTER!

Wow, did this book surprise me! I have been a fan of Bernard Malamud since--well, since I was like eight years old and discovered my love affair with baseball! The elementary school I attended had a small school library, and there was a book of baseball short stories that included (at least) one of Malamud's. Years later, I saw "The Natural" with Robert Redford and Glenn Close, and loved the story! (This is one of the perhaps dozen movies that I have seen in my life that I will watch again no matter when it comes on, unless my wife is home and in possession of the remote!). So...I was pretty excited to read "The Natural," and with props to Mr. M., it's a great book and totally well-written; but...nothing like the movie story version (especially the end), and for that reason, I hated it. In the book, "Roy" ends up being an amoral shell of a man who seems only interested in his own narcissism related to the "heroic legacy" he'll leave to the game. I don't want to spoil the ending for anyone, but think 180-out of how the movie leaves him (and Iris) in the happy-ending version. Oy, so disappointed in Roy.

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loved the premise

while very different than the movie(which was fine) There are periods of this book that go off the rails of any semblance of reality. well read, but the story which had its of promise had me losing interest throughout.

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disappointed

I can't believe I'm saying this, but if you love the movie, the natural, like I did, I would not read this book. The book does not have any real issues that it deals well with philosophically, it's baseball issues are old and hard to relate with, and worst of all, has characters that do not resound.
Call me old fashioned, but I think the reader deserves a happy ending to such a pedantic story.

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Best last hour of a baseball novel ever

The story of a hero and tragedy. So much of a deeper story than the movie. Absolutely terrific writing and Emotionally committed performance. Loved it.

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A Dark, Dark Hero

This is a classic example of a book being so, so much better than the movie. There is some great baseball, on and off the field, but the story belongs to Hobbs, a dark, deeply disturbed disaster of a human being. A great story.