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The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson

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Member Reviews

"The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson" offers a well researched and interesting look into Jackie Robinson's life. As someone who didn't know much about him prior to reading this and looking up more information, I'm glad that I got the chance to read more about him.
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The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson: The Baseball Legend's Battle for Civil Rights During World War II
Michael Lee Lanning

4 Stars

The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson is an extremely well-researched, well-written, and attention-holding biography of the former Brooklyn Dodger great.  As the title implies, the book centers on Robinson’s court-martial in 1944 over an incident stemming from his refusal to move to the back of a bus in Texas.  I thought I knew quite a bit about Robinson and this incident, but I learned much more than I knew from this work.  I’d recommend it to any baseball fan and anyone interested in the civil rights struggle during World War II.
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The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson: The Baseball Legend's Battle for Civil Rights During World War II is an intriguing read. I love learning about people in history and it was great learning a different side of Jackie Robinson I have never heard about before. 
Four stars.
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If a reader is looking for a brief yet informative biography on Jackie Robinson, then this is book to pick up.  It is thorough, especially when portraying Jack in his younger years as a child, teenager and student at Pasadena Community College and UCLA.  There is also good information on his military career, especially some incidents that occurred before his court martial about the bus ride.  However, I wanted to learn much more about that aspect of his life as most of the other material can be found in other books on Robinson.  I found the writing more scholarly and textbook style, and given the numerous sources that Lanning used (points for that) and including some of the reference material in the book, this work was just okay for me.  Some readers may really enjoy this book but it fell a little short of my expectations.
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Jackie Robinson broke the race barrier in major league baseball! But, Mr. Lanning proposes that had not a prior incident occurred, this wouldn't have happened. Had Robinson, while in the military, refused to move to the back of the bus, he would have remained in the military and not been available to be recruited. This is the main focus of the book; however, Mr. Lanning provides an overall biography of Mr. Robinson. I appreciated that. However, I felt that the writing style was incredibly dry as though this were a history textbook. The main sources for information were previous biographies or the actual trial notes. It didn't tend to feel very personal. Mr. Lanning provides extensive research in the back of the book but I wished the story itself had flowed a little better. Additionally, when Mr. Lanning gets to the actual event and trial, the book became very repetitive. So, is this a good book? If you want information, I'd say yes. I just wish the writing had matched the thrilling life Mr. Robinson lead.
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Everyone who follows baseball knows of this guy and what he did for the sport but few, myself included, know little about the rest of his life. This book not only documents the court-martial mentioned in the title but is a pretty succinct biography of his entire life. As well as this, it provides background to what is happening in the US at the time of each part so, again like me, those not as familiar with American history won't feel left out or confused. So as well as getting to know Jackie better, I also got more familiar with the US as a whole. Some of what I read was shocking and hard hitting but then it has to be to be real. I say real, from a sample size of this book it came across to me as such but I'm no expert. After the book itself finishes, there is a whole host of extra information added in appendices, including the trial transcript.
It's an interesting history delivered in a colourful and not at all dry way as some histories can be. It's filled a hole in my education of both America and Baseball and I am glad I found this book.
My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
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This book covers a little known episode in the life of a very important American sportsman.  And it is an episode that, as the author deftly shows through quoting other biographies, isn't typically discussed in depth in any previous treatment of Robinson's history.  That said, much of this book seems to be a light general biography of Robinson because the Court-Martial itself is a relatively brief incident and there's little to no compelling direct evidence how this event impacted Robinson and his subsequent baseball and civil rights career.  One thing that was very impressive about this book was that the author included all of the available primary sources on the Court Martial so readers can see the evidence for themselves.
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Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this ARC!

As a sort of caveat, I have to begin this review with the fact that I am perhaps the least sports savvy person I have ever met. I have little understanding of the rules that dictate most games and I can't play a sport (even at a backyard get together) without fouling it up. With that said, I do teach a Literature of Sports class (I'm in charge of literature; students are in charge of sports) and I'm always on the lookout for new titles to add to the syllabus. I'm pleased to say that Michael Lee Lanning's "The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson" will make a fine addition to the list! 

Lanning's title does what all the best sports books do - it hooks the reader via their connection to sports or to Robinson, but manages to be about much more than a single athlete or a single sport. Lanning does offer a clear look at this game-changing athlete, correcting many previously printed misconceptions, but he also focuses on U.S attitudes during wartime, changing ideas about race, and the way sports could be made into a conduit for important ideals. My sole critiques for this one is that some sections do seem a bit repetitive and sentence structure sometimes fails to vary, but even longtime fans of Robinson's exploits are sure to find something new to admire. For instance, Lanning writes about Robinson's time as a morale officer: "... he set an example by following his religious practices and beliefs - including rarely being profane  - by dressing well in uniform and in civilian clothes, and by comporting himself as an officer who understood and appreciated his enlisted men." If you consider the way his country mistreated him as an African American, this exemplary behavior becomes even more impressive.
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A real eye opener that shows just how much racism was around as late as 1944 against Afro-Americans that were on active service in the US forces. Second Lieutenant Jackie Robinson would not move to the back of the bus when asked by the driver. This occurred 11 years before Rosa Parks in 1955 refused to move back to the coloured section of a bus exposing himself to outrage from fellow officers that resulted in a court-martial.
This is basically the transcript from the trial and upon reading it you wonder with the number of Afro-Americans incarcerated at present if the system has advanced very far.
This is a independent review thanks to NetGalley Rowman & Littlefield Stackpole Books
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I had never heard this story about Jackie Robinson and found this book extremely interesting a must read for any Jackie Robinson fan.
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This is an excellent biography of Jackie Robinson.  I had never read anything about him other than his time in baseball, so this book was very interesting.
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I would like to thank NetGallery and the publisher Stackpole Books for the opportunity to read and provide a fair and honest review of this book.

Although the title of this book is a bit of misnomer, it is well worth the read. The book in fact offers a complete narrative of Robinson's life -- from his childhood, until his death. This narrative is accompanied by a section called historical perspective that provides the reader with short histories of relevant chapters in American history, e.g. the civil war and slavery, the Jim Crow South, and the integration of the military. In addition to these historical perspectives, the books appendices afford the reader the opportunity to read for themselves the testimony given in Robinson's court martial as well as the actual trial transcript. The author also devotes considerable space to correcting the historical record, showing the falsehood of many of the myths that have developed around Robinson's life, including about his time in the major leagues. In debunking these myths, the author shows that the truth needs no embellishment, as Jackie Robinson lived a remarkable life, making a major contribution not only to professional baseball but also to the civil rights movement, including his testimony before the congressional House Un-American Committee where he refused to denounce Paul Robeson as a communist, but rather focused on his personal choices and stressed the diversity of the African-American community. I highly recommend this book.
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