The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson

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Member Reviews

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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