Red: Life and Times of R Smith

Ira Berkow, Author Crown Publishers $17.95 (302p) ISBN 978-0-8129-1203-6
New York Times columnist Berkow has written a warm and revealing portrait of one of the finest American sportswriters of the 20th century. Smith knew every major sports personality from Babe Ruth to Muhammad Ali, and the book is full of entertaining and informative anecdotes (with many excerpts from Smith's own columns). Although this biography is basically a positive one, Berkow is to be admired for also seeing the unfavorable side of Smith's personality, specifically regarding racial issues: Berkow pinpoints Smith's failure to grasp the significance of Jackie Robinson breaking the color line in baseball and exposes his protection in print of friends he knew to be racists. Berkow also details Smith's rivalries (and petty jealousies) with his fellow New York scribes, especially Arthur Daley, the first sportswriter to win a Pulitzer Prize, which Smith was later awarded in 1976. Berkow recaps Smith's final years at the New York Times, his second marriage, his ongoing battles with Howard Cosell and Bowie Kuhn, and his death in 1982. Photos not seen by PW. First serial to New York Times Magazine; BOMC and QPB alternates. (June 4)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1986
Release date: 05/01/1986
Hardcover - 475 pages - 978-0-8161-4372-6
Paperback - 302 pages - 978-0-8032-6040-5
Paperback - 312 pages - 978-0-07-004852-2
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