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I Never Had It Made: An Autobiography (Dark Tower Series) [Paperback]

Cornel West , Jackie Robinson , Hank Aaron
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 275 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco Press (April 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0880015446
  • ISBN-13: 978-0880015448
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.3 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,339,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
My grandfather was born into slavery, and although my mother and my father, Mallie and Jerry Robinson, lived during an era when physical slavery had been abolished, they also lived in a newer, more sophisticated kind of slavery than the kind Mr. Lincoln struck down. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Book, But Disappointing Nonetheless 17 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Jackie Robinson's autobiography is good, yes, but I expected much more from it. A person like Robinson has a great story and should have been able to produce a book that would knock you out of your chair. Unfortunately, Robinson spends more than half the book talking about what he did after his career was over. He should have spent at least 3/4 of the book on his playing days. Instead, he'd rather tell you about running a bank in Harlem. This isn't a bad read, but it should have been better.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Again disappointed 13 May 2012
By N9eav
I had been really interested in reading about the struggles of black players in the Baseball history of the USA. Jackie Robinson was the first to make it to the Major leagues and I wanted to read about how that happened. BUT. 270 page book and only 120 pages on baseball. Only a few pages on the Negro leagues and a lot of condensed history on the rest. Gave up reading about life after baseball, although part of his life and significant, I was not interested in his work with a coffee and confectionary company.
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5.0 out of 5 stars touching 11 Feb 1998
By A Customer
If you want to read this book to get an in-dept story of his baseball career, this may not be the book for you. The 55 world series only takes up half a page. However the point of the book is well made. Robinson tells a dramatic story of the problems blacks face living in a white world. He also show his ablility to acknowledge great people whether black or white.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book 23 April 1997
By A Customer
This is the best book on baseball I have ever read. Robinson is extremely frank about his experiences as the first black baseball player. He spends more time chronicling his life off the diamond than on. If one wants to know the real Jackie Robinson, read this book. There are many books out there about Jackie's feats on the diamond, but this book gives us a real portrait of an American hero.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  111 reviews
36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A man who lived A dream...or did he? 19 Jan 2001
By Joshua Mallipudi - Published on Amazon.com
When I think about someone like Jackie Robinson, I think of someone who had an easy life of playing baseball and making lots of money. He was first the first African-American to play in the professional Major League level and was highly respected by everyone. After having read his autobiography, I Never Had It Made, I realized that I was totally wrong. Besides the glory and the fame for having been the first African-American to play in the major leagues, Jackie had to go through many hardships to get where he got. Jackie uses this book to tell the reader of all the different trials and hardships he had to go through before, during, and after his professional career as the 1st and 2nd baseman of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Jackie also tells of all the other things that he did besides baseball. I didn't know it, but Jackie went to UCLA and while he was there, he did many great things. Not only was a great baseball star at UCLA, he was also a big star in football, basketball, and track. After college, he went into the Army and became a lieutenant for the U.S. Army before he signed with the Montreal Royals (a minor league baseball team) in 1945. Jackie gives a lot of the credit to Mr. Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers for having the guts to bring him into the team and making the transition as easy as possible. Jackie promised to take in any insults thrown at him while he was in baseball uniform and not to respond to them for two years. This was to pave the way for other black players to be brought into the major league. I personally don't think that I can play a game while people are yelling and making fun of me. Jackie describes what he had to go through in the book. Jackie also discusses the hate mail he got and even the threats people placed on his life. He also tells of his wife and the kind of positive impact she had on him as well. Many people think of Jackie Robinson as being only a baseball player, but he did much more. After retiring from baseball, he did many things in regard to the civil rights issue. He influenced many issues and was even the political scene, helping President Nixon and President John F. Kennedy during their stay in office. He was even apart of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). In the book, you learn more about his relationships with Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, and many others. Jackie Robinson accomplished many things and had endured many problems even within his own family. He talks about the drug problems that plagued his oldest son and all the hardships his children had to go through being the sons and daughter of a famous African-American figure. Jackie changed the way of life for many people and gave hope to the African-American community. After all of this, Jackie learns that no matter what his successes were in the white world, he would always remain a black man. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in knowing about Jackie Robinson. You wouldn't expect for a baseball player to be a good enough writer to write a three hundred page autobiography, but I thought Jackie did a great job. The book flowed and it never got boring. I didn't even want to put it down, just kept turning the pages. This book gave great insight into the kind of life African American faced in the early to mid nineteen hundreds and what they had to endure. Jackie Robinson is not only a great icon in the world of professional sports, but in other aspects as well and I think that he did awesome job in writing this book.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving story of one of the great athletes and men of the century. 28 Dec 2006
By Jeremy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this book when I did a research paper on Jackie Robinson in 11th grade English class back in 2003. It was a great autobiography and I couldn't put the book down. Not only tells the story of the man as a baseball player, but it tells how he struggled being a "black man in a white world." If you are interested in baseball, civil rights, or even just want to read a good book and learn more about the time, I highly recommend this book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Touches the surface of a complex man 3 Jun 2013
By Lou - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was interested in reading "I Never Had It Made" after seeing the movie "42". There are more than a few biographies about Jackie Robinson, but I wanted to hear the story from the man himself. The first third of the book is quite riveting, as Mr. Robinson recounts his story of breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball. The story slows down once Mr. Robinson transitioned from baseball to private life with some highs and lows. Particularly heartbreaking is reading about his relationship with his son, how his son became addicted to drugs, eventually overcame his addiction, and passed away in a tragic car accident just as his life was beginning to turn around. It's clear that Mr. Jackie Robinson is a principled man, and fought for civil rights in the battleground of business and politics. There were several famous political figures he called out in his book as people he couldn't support, but didn't elaborate as to why. I would have liked to know more specifics about his view of these people.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Never Had It Made 5 Mar 2004
By matt - Published on Amazon.com
This book tells of the struggles Jackie Robinson faced as he made a name for himself in the game of baseball. This is a wonderfully writen autobiography that tells the emotion and physical hardships he faced not only in the major and minor leagues while playing baseball but also in his everyday life as well.While perservering through all this, he succeeded to a degree of breaking the color barrier in the United States. As a child he witnessed constant racism from neighbors, children, and many others that came into contact with him. His mother brought him up to be very strong and independent because when Jackie was about one or two his father went to the city and never returned. He left her with nothing but thier five children who were all too young to work and support the family. Eventually after being forced to move, they went to live with Jacies uncle in California.
This book really showed me how hard he had it. Not only did he have the pressures of playing in the major leagues but also have to worry about prejudist on the field and in the stands. You will see how he didnt have a friend to talk to unless his wife, Rachel Robinson, would travel with him during the season. There was no one who even dreamed of having a black man in baseball until the dodgers took on Jackie. Baseball has never been the same because of the influence this one man has had on the sport itself and many if not all other sports indirectly.
"I Never Had It Made" tells Robinson's early years and influences such as his college experience at UCLA, where he became the school's first four-letter athlete;World War II , playing with the Negro Leagues; and when Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers asked Jackie Robinson to play, which was known as the "Noble Experiment".The league itself recieved a lot of critism from fans during the timethis "experiment" was unvealed.Jackie Robinson expesses his deppest feelings in this book and writes of his relationship's with individual player's and managers. He also talked of the few he had arguments and different views in many areas. There is many accounts of important games such as the 1955 World Series, when jackie Robinson and the Dodgers won against thier rivals.
This book is a great story of one man's determination and detication to a sport he loved to play through thick and thin. He did this in the faces of all those people who said it could never happen,.it would never happen, and blacks will never say in major league baseball in the United States.Jackie Robinson was a true hero
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insight 1 Jun 2013
By The Golden Bear - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book provided interesting insight to the thinking of a man who made a mark on American history.

We frequently hear about Jackie Robinson as the baseball icon who broke racial barriers in a segregated institution. We seldom hear of his many contributions to the business and political world. His autobiography gives personal insight to his life and the impact he had in the socio-political arena.

Jackie was an outspoken advocate of his personal beliefs. He took on many challenges and sometimes suffered the consequences of those struggles. The reader gets to experience Jack Robinson as a dynamic individual who is sometimes bitter, sometimes apologetic, sometimes sexist, sometimes full of pain, and sometimes proud. He discusses his views, his motivations, his reasoning, and his failures.

The book reads as if the manuscript was typed verbatim from a tape recorded story of Jackie's life. As times, it lacks sufficient historical perspective that would provide greater information and understanding for the reader.

One of the short comings of the book is the lack of footnotes. Jackie refers to a variety of documents including newspaper articles, but fails to provide footnotes so that the reader can refer to and research the source. Footnotes provide an excellent tool to look for and obtain more information on the subject. Due to the fact that there are many such references, they should have been available. It would have also been a plus to see copies of some of the letters written to Jackie by Rockefeller, Nixon, and other historical figures that are discussed at length in the book.

I would have also like to know more about Jackie's early years, such as, the schools he attended and how he entered UCLA. I am sure that there was more to his entry into the UC system than merely filling out an application. There is also limited information about this mother and his siblings, or whether his father ever attempted to contact his famous and outspoken son.

Although, we hear from the man himself, upon finishing the book, I felt as if the work was incomplete. It feels more like a work in progress than a finished memoir of a man who attempted and accomplished so much.
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