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Pete Rose: An American Dilemma

Pete Rose: An American Dilemma

4.0 13
by Kostya Kennedy

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"Kennedy's book on the tarnished and enigmatic Rose is exceptional. Like the best writing about sport—Liebling, Angell—it qualifies as stirring literature. I'd read Kennedy no matter what he writes about." —Richard Ford

Pete Rose played baseball with a singular and headfirst abandon that endeared him to fans and peers, even as it riled


"Kennedy's book on the tarnished and enigmatic Rose is exceptional. Like the best writing about sport—Liebling, Angell—it qualifies as stirring literature. I'd read Kennedy no matter what he writes about." —Richard Ford

Pete Rose played baseball with a singular and headfirst abandon that endeared him to fans and peers, even as it riled others—a figure at once magnetic, beloved and polarizing. Rose has more base hits than anyone in history, yet he is not in the Hall of Fame. Twenty-five years ago he was banished from baseball for gambling, then ruled ineligible for Cooperstown; today, the question "Does Pete Rose belong in the Hall of Fame?" has evolved into perhaps the most provocative in sports, a layered, slippery and ever-relevant moral conundrum.

How do we evaluate the Hit King now, at a time when steroid cheats appear on the Hall of Fame ballot even as Rose is denied? What do we make of this happily unrepentant gambler, this shameless but beguiling showman whose postbaseball journey has led him to a curious reality show and to the streets of Cooperstown to hawk his signature, his story, himself?

Best-selling author Kostya Kennedy delivers an evocative answer in his fascinating re-examination of Pete Rose's life; from his cocky and charismatic early years through his storied playing career to his bitter war against baseball's hierarchy to the man we find today—still incorrigible, still adored by many. Where has his improbable saga landed him in the redefined, post-steroid world? Do we feel any differently about Pete Rose today? Should we?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
One of the most controversial and defiant baseball personalities of all time receives a piercing scrutiny by Kennedy, assistant managing editor at Sports Illustrated, who tracks the firebrand from his Cincinnati childhood to his heralded rookie season of 1963 with the hometown Reds. Rose, according to Kennedy, emerges as a walking contradiction, a hard worker on the field with a singular goal of excellence, a consistent .300 hitter with dramatic headlong slides and acrobatic catches, but also a bad-boy with the press who occasionally got into trouble after hours. As a part of the “Big Red Machine,” Rose put up impressive statistics and holds the record of MLB all-time hits leader—alongside three World Series rings, two Gold Gloves, and three batting titles, during a playing career that ran from 1963 to 1986. However, Kennedy doesn’t shy away from the banished ex-player’s gambling addiction and the infamous Dowd report that eventually got him thrown out of the game, in the middle of the 1989 season when he was serving as the Cincinnati manager. Included are Rose’s poor career choices, his roving eye for the ladies despite marital obligations, and the beleaguered, unsuccessful quest to reach the baseball Hall of Fame. Piecing together the raging firestorm of disappointment, fraud, prison time, and hustling in Rose’s checkered life, Kennedy’s ambitious account is an anecdote-rich read. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"Even readers who know who Mr. Rose is will learn much from...this book's stacked roster of interviews and anecdotes [and] fascinating and well-chosen tangents....Kennedy covers the [Big Red Machine] period expertly." —Craig Fehrman, The Wall Street Journal"

Will absorb you immediately...a fascinating study of one of America's most enduringly fascinating athletes. Masterful." —Mike Vaccaro, New York Post"

An exceptionally well-written book that lays out both sides of what remains a highly-charged issue." —Paul Hagen, MLB.com"

Kennedy takes that familiar story and delves deeper, presenting an artful portrait....With writing of such quality and a subject of such complexity, it deserves to be read by anyone who appreciates good biography." John C. Williams, BookPage"

Kennedy's book on the tarnished and enigmatic Rose is exceptional. Like the best writing about sport—Liebling, Angell—it qualifies as stirring literature. I'd read Kennedy no matter what he writes about." —Richard Ford"

Kostya Kennedy has given us the real Pete Rose at last. Perhaps Pete does not deserve him, but baseball fans and readers who appreciate superb and subtle writing will be grateful." David Maraniss"

This is a wonderful,
clearly written book about a dark and complicated tragedy that continues to beset the purity of our national pastime. The whole story is here: the deeply talented, passionate ball player, 'Charlie Hustle,' and the deeply morally challenged hustler who bestrides essential questions about our national game." —Ken Burns"

Pete Rose is too rich a character to fit on a bronze plaque. He requires a good, trenchant, poignant
(ah, Petey) book, and this is it." —Roy Blount Jr. "

Better than any previous account. Kennedy leaves no doubt about Rose's greatness as a player or his guilt as a gambler." —Allen Barra, The Boston Globe"

A remarkable book about a fascinating, vexing figure." —Kirkus (starred review)"

Kennedy's ambitious account is an anecdote-rich read." Publishers Weekly

Library Journal
How do you solve a problem like Pete Rose? Baseball's still-reigning hit king, "Charlie Hustle," never ceases to be a divisive figure. Kennedy (56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports) takes a fresh look at him. While the book contains a fair amount of biographical material, it's more of a consideration of Rose's place in baseball history 25 years after his ban from Major League Baseball (MLB) and from Hall of Fame consideration because he bet on baseball games. The narrative shifts between Rose's past—with anecdotes from family, friends, and former teammates—to his present life working the autograph circuit and filming a reality show with his young fiancée. The big question that has dogged him in the last quarter century—whether or not he has a right to a plaque in Cooperstown—hangs over the story and is newly scrutinized in light of recent steroid scandals. VERDICT While Rose may be handled a little too lightly here in some readers' opinions, this will find an audience among baseball fans.—BR
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-01-12
A reflection on the meaning of legendary baseball player Pete Rose. Rose is Major League Baseball's all-time hits leader, as well as the leader in games played and at-bats. He holds nearly 20 records and was one of the hardest working and most beloved players during his playing days. Yet, due to the fact that he gambled on baseball while he was a manager with his former team, the Cincinnati Reds, he is officially banned from baseball and is not enshrined in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. "Even now," writes Sports Illustrated assistant managing editor Kennedy (56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports, 2011, etc.), "25 years into his exile, he remains a figure who stirs uncommon passion, righteousness, indignation." Were this book just a biography of "Charlie Hustle," it would be a fine one. But more importantly, Kennedy explores not only Rose's life and career and his ignominious fall from glory, but also the complexities and conundrums surrounding his ineligibility and his character. Rose's detractors and supporters alike will find evidence here to both confirm and challenge their biases. Kennedy is a graceful writer who interweaves traditional biography with myriad explorations of the puzzle that is Rose: his affinity for gambling and his waywardness with money, his up-and-down relationships with women and his children from his marriages, and his sometimes-tawdry post-baseball life. Kennedy tends toward discursive divergences that usually build a larger picture, though occasionally he is like an interesting man at a party who tells wonderful stories but interrupts himself to tell an even better tale. Nonetheless, most of the time, he weaves magic in these pages. Rose may not deserve as nuanced a biographer as Kennedy, but baseball fans certainly do. A remarkable book about a fascinating, vexing figure.

Product Details

Time Home Entertainment, Inc
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6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Kostya Kennedy is an assistant managing editor at Sports Illustrated and the New York Times bestselling author of 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports, winner of the 2011 Casey Award and runner-up for the 2012 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing. He lives with his wife and children in Westchester County, N.Y. To learn more, visit kostyakennedy.com.

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Pete Rose: An American Dilemma 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Pete Rose controversy has been on my agenda since the first drug wave went through the major baseball. If anyone who feels they are an "expert" in the game would take a moment and think. How is gambling as severe as consuming, purchasing, selling, distrubing drugs to enhance ones performance while destroying over the course of time one's body? All for the sake of a temporary job and a statistic that will eventually be broken? Let's be real here everyone. A Rod is just getting banded for one season and look at all that he did and didn't do. How does Pete Rose's situation worse than that? Mr. Kennedy takes a look at the entire Pete Rose the baseball player. His talent is real, not drug enhanced, but personally given and developed. His mistake was self developed and self realized. Mr Kennedy looks behind the scenes to see what makes Pete Rose, Pete Rose. Perhaps if all of the hierarchy of baseball would take time and red this book with an open mind they will see he has long paid his duty to the game and the fans.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
senated More than 1 year ago
Interesting account of a player, who if I was choosing my all time team, he would certainly be in the top five.  So why isn't he in the Hall of Fame. It's because his IQ must be about one fifth of his lifetime batting average.  Pete say you are sorry, quit gambling, and you may get in before you are dead.
edwinhope More than 1 year ago
Whether Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame or not has to do with your idea of whether the Hall commemorates achievement or character/achievement. This book sup pies the reader with abundant evidence that if the operative criterion is the latter, Rose should be banned. But then probably so should a number of others who are now safely ensconced in the HOF. The book is uneven in its apparent bias on any given page, but whether you are a baseball fan or just fascinated by the human condition, it is well worth your reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MinTwinsNY More than 1 year ago
Rating:   5 of 5 stars (outstanding) Review: Pete Rose has been one of the most polarizing figures in baseball for the last 25 years.  In that time, he signed an agreement that permanently banned him from associating with Major League Baseball, has admitted in a tell-all book that he bet on baseball after denying so for over 15 years, spent time in prison for tax evasion, hawked as much memorabilia and as many autographs as he could and yet still have a lot of support to win reinstatement and enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame.   All of these topics and more are covered in Kostya Kennedy’s outstanding book on Rose. This isn’t a typical biography in which the story of the subject is told from birth to present day.  Oh, sure, there are pages about Rose’s youth, his relationship with his father and his climb from the minor leagues to the Cincinnati Reds.  However, the focus of the book is on Rose and the manner in which he handles himself with the ban from baseball.   There are several chapters interspersed throughout the book on his presence in Cooperstown, New York during the weekend in 2012 when two players were inducted into the Hall of Fame.  These stories of Rose and his presence in the hamlet selling anything he can while at the same time being banned from enshrinement in the museum less than a mile away on Main Street smacks of part irony, part melancholy.  Kennedy makes the reader feel like he or she is experiencing induction weekend in Cooperstown during these chapters.  When Barry Larkin, one of the players inducted that year, mentions Rose during his acceptance speech, the reader cannot help but feel Rose is there, thanks to the prose of Kennedy. Other topics which are captured and vividly described by Kennedy are Rose’s relationship with his oldest son, Pete Jr.  Here another emotional event is illustrated well when Pete Jr. makes his major league debut with the Reds in 1997, but cannot enjoy the moment with his father in the clubhouse because of the ban.   However, my favorite chapter in the book was chapter 17, simply titled “Gate Keepers.”  The first paragraph in this chapter is all you need to know in order to understand the title.  It ends with the phrase “Keep Pete Rose out of the Baseball Hall of Fame.”   This was the meeting in 1991 when a special committee met and drafted the rule that became known as the Pete Rose rule – simply that a person on baseball’s ineligible list shall not be eligible to be elected to the Hall of Fame.  Kennedy can barely hide the contempt for this rule, calling it “the greatest disservice to be inflicted upon the Hall of Fame induction process…”  and further stating that nothing else “has so deeply stained the procedure, nor delivered such a blow to the integrity of the process as a whole.”   This shows that not only has Kennedy done his research, but that he has a deep passion for the topic.  His writing is a reflection of that passion.  No matter how the reader feels about Rose and whether or not he belongs in the Hall of Fame, this outstanding book should be read by every baseball fan. The stories are rich, the research through, the interviews with other players and Rose’s family members riveting and the entire book is a fine work by Kennedy.  Did I skim? No.   Pace of the book:   Excellent.  Kennedy’s writing keeps the reader engrossed and the pages turning, whether the topic is Rose hustling to third base on a hit, the gambling investigation, Pete Jr. or the latest sale of Rose merchandise in Cooperstown.  Do I recommend?   This is a must read book for any baseball fan.  It doesn’t matter whether you like Rose or not, nor does it matter how the reader feels about whether or not Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame, this book will keep the reader riveted. Book Format Read: e-book (Nook)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If Pete Rose is not in the Hall of Fame, it's not really a Hall of Fame then. D.D.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
don't waste your time and money on thid book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey babe