Rated of 5
by Deborah Elka
Cramer strikes out with poorly researched biography
Richard ben Cramer spent five years chasing Joe Dimaggio-two of those years spent in phone calls and correspondence trying to convince Joe why he should agree to having Cramer cover his life. part of Cramers "pitch" was that Cramer had authored the much praised Ted Williams biography of 1992. The selling point didn't stick with Joe who in the end refused to cooperate with Cramer. Cramer needen't have personalized the spurn, Joe refused over a good fourty year period to write his biography, let alone help eager authors. In fact, he turned down a two million dollar contract.
Cramer has written a book which at it's heart has very little to do with Joe himself and everything to do with how Cramer thinks Joe saw the world around him. Without use of sources, endnotes or reference material Cramer writes about a twisted, small, petty ignorant lout who lumbers through his life bitter, unthinking, empty and cold- a cross between the Grinch ( before the grinch's heart grew) and Mr.Potter from 'It's A Wonderful Life'. DImaggio is bereft of any redeemabkle qualities - his heart and soul having never developed within him. Cramer has DiMaggio hooked up with the mafiosa , on the take in his business and advertising ventures. Cramer claims that during the great san fransico earth quake of 1989 Joe showed up at his house after the quake looking for a bag of money he kept hidden in his house. What Cramer fails to do is give factua proof of such a thing-and furthermore careful research would show Joe was actually at a shelter on the day Cramer claims Joe was rooting about his house for the pile of nob money. Take a look at The New York daily News archives and there you wil find a cover story about Joe standing in line at a shelter looking for someone.
Cramer also has the irritating trait of writing about events not as an outside observer reporting the facts, but as someone involved int he event itself- he speaks as Joe's first wife, Dorothy, as ex wife marilyn and Joe himself sot he reader, who does not know much about Dimaggio, is lead to believe the quotes to be from the person or persons, rather than craetive license of Cramers part.
A dissapointing mess of a biography. Cramer comes across as someone hell bent on getting even with the man who spurned his biographical advances. He plays loose and fast with the facts and blows an opurtunity to present Dimaggio as a thre dimensional human being, with enormous faults as well as instantly charasmatic quirks.