Into My Own: The Remarkable People and Events That Shaped a Life
Roger Kahn has been writing about sports and other topics for more
than half a century, but it was only with THE BOYS OF SUMMER, his
watershed account of the Brooklyn Dodgers, that he became a
household name and a standardbearer for similar endeavors.
The product of an intellectual New York home, Kahn grew into a
curious, if not exactly academically motivated, young man. School
was tolerated, not embraced, until his father arranged an interview
for him with the Herald Tribune. Thus began a long career in
journalism, writing about other people and issues. With INTO MY
OWN, he invites the reader into a personal world, focusing on
several individuals who were influential in his life and
Among these are Stanley Woodward, his boss, mentor and friend, who
challenged him to be not just another sportswriting hack. Kahn
looks back fondly on his salad days as a young copyboy who broke
into the ranks of the ink-stained wretches, earning more
increasingly important assignments until he became the Dodgers'
Since the Brooklyn team was his ticket to middle-aged fame, it is
fitting that two of the key members of the team receive significant
attention: Harold "Pee Wee" Reese and Jackie Robinson.
Reese, the shortstop and captain, was a Southerner who literally
embraced the African-American Robinson in full view of hate-spewing
racists, thereby setting an example of gentility, cooperation,
tolerance and friendship. Robinson was a more fiery personality and
gave Kahn the opportunity to learn about the difficulties of being
a black man in America on several levels. These relationships
lasted long after the players had retired.
Kahn was more than a one-trick pony, however; he also wrote about
"serious" subjects, such as politics and his Jewish heritage (THE
PASSIONATE PEOPLE). He also recalls relationships with the likes of
Eugene McCarthy and the poet Robert Frost.
The most touching chapter, however, is painfully personal: the
difficult life and premature death of his son, Roger Laurence, a
suicide at 23. Roger L. was the product of a "broken home"
following the divorce between Kahn and his second wife, Alice. The
author does not mince words as he writes about their tenuous
relationship, which deteriorated when his son was quite young.
Despite numerous therapists and private schools (including a
controversial boarding school), Roger L. sank deeper into bipolar
problems, much to his father's helpless distress.
Reviewed by Ron Kaplan on January 22, 2011