cover image The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams

The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams

Ben Bradlee Jr.. Little, Brown, $35 (856p) ISBN 978-0-316-61435-1

The story of Ted Williams contains more twists and turns than the great American novel, and in this epic biography, former Boston Globe editor and investigative reporter Bradlee presents an often disturbing portrayal of the man perpetually known as "The Kid." The first major book about Williams since Leigh Montville's Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero published within two years of the 2002 death of baseball's greatest hitter at age 83, Bradlee focuses on elements of the Hall of Famer's life overshadowed by his still-historic .406 batting average in 1941, including his two wartime stints in the military at the height of his playing career, cantankerous relationships with fans and journalists, and the sad end-of-life saga perpetuated by his three reproachable children that concluded with the controversial cryonic preservation of Williams's head and decapitated body at a nondescript facility in Scottsdale, Ariz. Drawing on more than 10 years of research and 600-plus interviews, Bradlee explores Williams's Hispanic heritage and troubled childhood that left him feeling "ashamed," provides possible reasons for his irrational anger, and offers new insight into the cryonics case. Despite a few extraneous chapters, this big book rewards patient readers with as complete a portrait of Williams as history likely will allow. (Dec.)