Ok, Professor Hirsch, I think I'm ready for my final exam.
If you leave out the epilogue, the author's note, the career stats, the citation notes, and the bibliography it's 532 pages. If you include them, your one page shy of 600.
How could one person, even a public figure, live a life that produces enough material for a book with that heft? Even if that person is a legend the size of Willie Mays.
In the hands of James S. Hirsch, the amazing career of the Say Hey Kid is a framework around which is built a story of baseball, civil rights, human nature, & America's national character. But the focus always stays on Mr. Mays.
I'm not a scholar, I'm a reader. So, if you're like me, when you hear that a book is being called "scholarly" you'll stifle a yawn. It's as if in our minds scholarly and entertaining can't possibly coexist.
But, trust me on this, your education in the life and times of Willie Mays will be a page-turner. All 600 of them. What you learn about the times is as important a lesson as what you learn about him.
Come February, when this book hits the stores, there are going to be people standing in long lines at the few lucky bookstores that will host Mr. Hirsch's signings. Many of them will be memorabilia hunters, eager to add one more autographed, plastic-protected item to their collections. But it is the history buffs, and the students of human nature, and the people who just love the thrill of an amazingly crafted story, who will be the lucky ones. Because they will actually read it.