Howard Bryant is the author of Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston, which was a finalist for the Society for American Baseball Research’s 2003 Seymour Medal, and Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power, and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball. He is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine; appears regularly on ESPN’s The Sports Reporters, ESPN First Take, and Outside the Lines; and serves as sports correspondent for NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. He lives in western Massachusetts.
As the steroid controversy has increasingly tarnished baseball’s image, Hank Aaron’s achievements have come to seem all the more remarkable: the first player to pass Babe Ruth in home runs, Aaron held that record for thirty-three years while shattering other records (RBIs, total bases, extra-base hits) and setting new ones (hitting at least thirty home runs per season fifteen times). But his achievements run much deeper than his stats.
Chronicling the social upheavals of the years during which Aaron played (1954 to 1976), Howard Bryant shows us how the dignity and determination with which he stood against racism—on and off the field, and as one of the first blacks in baseball’s upper management—helped transform the role and significance of the professional black athlete and turn Aaron into an national icon.
THE LAST HERO The first definitive biography of Henry Aaron—baseball’s great home-run champion and one of its most enduring legends.
"An eye-opening biography of the Braves’ outfielder, the real home-run king…Baseball’s tainted steroid era has, if anything, bestowed an even brighter shine to Aaron’s on-field achievements, but Bryant makes clear that this slugger’s story was always about more than merely overcoming blazing fastballs. Plenty of baseball for the fan, but even more insight into why Aaron matters beyond the game."~Kirkus
”Not just another book on Hank’s prodigious ability to elevate baseballs over the fences…the postcareer exploits of Aaron will inspire all readers. 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, Starred Review
“One of Howard Bryant’s mentors, the late David Halberstam, encouraged him to ‘bring those great Henry Aaron wrists to life,’ and he has done that and more with this marvelous book. Wrists, legs, heart, brain—here is the full picture of a great man and ballplayer who finally gets his due.” ~David Maraniss, author of Clemente
"No one was more important to the game of baseball in the last half of the 20th Century than Henry Aaron and no one writes about that supremely talented man, that tumultuous time and this treasure of a game better than Howard Bryant. Together, they are an extraordinary combination, and the book Bryant has written gets to the heart of the complicated and dignified, patient and consistent genuine hero that is Henry Aaron." ~Ken Burns, filmmaker
"We already know Henry Aaron as one of the greatest players in the history of baseball. Now, in Howard Bryant’s impeccably researched and nuanced biography, we know Henry Aaron not just as a great ballplayer, but as a remarkable man. In The Last Hero Bryant asks the hard questions and cuts through the myths to create a timeless and unflinching portrait of an American icon and his times. And as in any great biography, in learning about Aaron’s life we also learn something about our own."~Glenn Stout, Series Editor, The Best American Sports Writing
"I loved baseball books as a child. This is a baseball book for adults, the story of a gifted, complex man and his struggles in our complex country. This is a fascinating and at times a troubling book, which revivified the lovely old game for me." ~Tracy Kidder, author of Mountains Beyond Mountains
Eloquently written, detailed, and penetrating, this is a revelatory portrait of both the great ballplayer and the complicated private man.