No American athelete has ever been revered by a higher percentage of Americas youth than was Mickey Mantle. We needed for somebody to write a book about how and why America made Mickey Mantle an unprecedented and enduring national sports icon and to what degree Mickey was and was not prepared for the ramifications. As one of those life-long fans of Mantle, I think I've read every book about him, in addition to absorbing forty years of magazine articles. Tony Castro's research and writing produced the best sports biography I've ever read.

Mickey Mantle: America's Prodigal Son is a beautiful composition of history and emotion and revelation. The depths that Castro explored took us to the troubled inside of Mickey the boy and Mantle the man. Castro clearly defined the public star who exposed his personal conflicts only toward the end of his famous life. Secondarily it it also teaches us about the interactions of the Yankees and explains why Mickey's teammates and opponents were always so loyal and supportive of him. (Joe DiMaggio excepted.)

Actually, Castro's whole approach to the subject was masterful. The reader benefits from more than just new insights into what made Mickey what he was and wasn't; the reader learns about why Mickey became what he ultimately became and how he became so much a part of us. This book should be required reading for fathers and sons of all ages. It teaches us about ourselves and about the times we all shared with Mickey Mantle--from those days when he was what we all we wanted to be, to those days when he became what we all hoped he and we wouldn't become.

In the end Castro explains to us the many reasons why we were fascinated with Mantle. The dark side of our flawed idol having been explained for the first time in detail, sets the stage for the bittersweet end where Castro describes the salvation that all of us desired for Mantle to attain. Castro paints the canvas with the events leading to Mantle's death. The end of the ride allowed the public to bury The Mick in the same glow it always wanted for him as a real American hero, strong, but at the same time, understandably and forgivably fragile.

--Brian Gauthier