cover image The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson

The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson

Jeff Pearlman. Mariner, $29.99 (480p) ISBN 978-0-358-43767-3

Sports journalist Pearlman (Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s) delivers an entertaining biography of star multisport athlete Bo Jackson. Jackson’s one-of-a-kind athletic ability was “mythological,” Pearlman writes, noting that he was capable of “things so unprecedented, so spectacular, that one must wonder if they were ever actually done at all.” Jackson’s “uniquely athletic” legend started during his childhood in Alabama the 1960s (a neighbor claims to have seen him throw a rock 200 yards), and Pearlman recounts how his discovery of sports changed his life, beginning with his joining Little League at age 10 (he was forbidden from playing football by his mother but defied her in ninth grade). Pearlman also details Jackson’s incredible achievements, which included a Heisman Trophy in 1985 as well as his becoming the only professional athlete ever named a baseball and football All-Star (first with the Kansas City Royals in 1989, then with the L.A. Raiders in 1990) before retiring from pro sports in 1991 after a hip injury. The author’s facility at rendering dramatic sports moments into prose, such as when, in 1989, Jackson made a miraculous deep outfield throw to get a speedy opposing player out at home plate (spectators witnessed him “rearing back and uncorking a flat-footed bazooka blast that soared high above shortstop Kurt Stillwell”), makes this a standout addition to biographies of hall-of-fame athletes. Jackson’s fans are in for a treat. (Oct.)