Reviews of Let's Play Two: The Legend of Mr. Cub, The Life of Ernie Banks

"A remarkable new book... There is no question that Banks was a heroic figure, made more so by Rapoport’s exciting and stylish writing, his obvious affection for the man and the ballplayer." ―Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune (Click to read full review.)
"An admirable biography...Rapoport works diligently to penetrate the curtain of enthusiasm in which Banks wrapped himself." ―Richard Babock, The Wall Street Journal (Click to read full review.)
"An extensively researched portrayal of the public figure as well as the lesser-known, private Banks. " ―Washington Post
“This marvelous look at the life of a beloved athlete should be essential reading for baseball fans, and Cubs lovers especially.” ―Publisher's Weekly, starred review and Publisher's Weekly Book of the Week April 1.
"A refreshing sports biography that punctures common myths about one of baseball’s greats." ―Kirkus Reviews
"Rapoport has written one of the better sports biographies of the century." ―Jeremy Beer, National Review
“Baseball fans of sufficient vintage to remember Ike at 1600 will enjoy this walk down Memory Lane.” ―Larry Thornberry, The American Spectator (Click to read full review.)
Listen to Ron discuss Let's Play Two with Scott Simon on NPR's Weekend Edition.
Listen to "Only A Game" and its ingenious dramatization of the prologue to "Let's Play Two."
Four authors talked about biography and their books on the lives of legendary African Americans. The participants were David Blight, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom; Jeffrey Stewart, The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke; Raymond Arsenault, Arthur Ashe: A Life; and Ron Rapoport, Let’s Play Two: The Legend of Mr. Cub, the Life of Ernie Banks. This event was part of the 2019 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
See Ron discuss Let's Play Two on WTTW's Chicago Tonight.
"Growing up, every kid I knew wanted to be Ernie Banks, Chicago's 'Mr. Cub.' But there was much more to Ernie than his MVP seasons or his famously sunny outward demeanor. Let's Play Two captures the best of Banks' playing moments, but also delves deeply into a man who did not seem to want you to know more than you could see. Rapoport, a legendary Chicago sportswriter, has written a fascinating, readable, and impeccably researched book about a man who was a Hall of Famer, but also a decided creature of his times." ―Scott Turow
"This is a wonderful book worthy of all the energy and vitality Ernie Banks brought to his remarkable career. But it is also a revealing portrait of the often difficult life of a black ballplayer in America and the often lonely man imprisoned and isolated by his exuberant outer image." ―Ken Burns
"Hooray! Ernie Banks now has the Hall-of-Fame biography he deserves thanks to Ron Rapoport. This well-researched, beautifully written book is everything a baseball fan could want. Cubs fans, of course, will want to buy two." ―Jonathan Eig, author of Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig and Ali: A Life
"Ernie Banks crossed the bridge from a segregated nation and national pastime to a better place, smiling all the way. Although his smile was real, so were the scarring experiences he smiled through. He was more complicated and interesting than the human sunbeam he chose to resemble. With a reporter's diligence and a historian's sensibility, Ron Rapoport tells Banks' story, and that of the different nations at the two ends of the bridge." ―George F. Will
"This is the definitive biography of baseball's Mr. Sunshine, and Ron Rapoport is the one writer who knew him best and could tell it like it was -- including the 'other side of sunshine.'" ―Bill Madden, author of Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball
"Ron Rapoport has done a magnificent job lifting the veil and illuminating the shadows in Let’s Play Two: The Legend of Mr. Cub, the Life of Ernie Banks. ... Rapoport goes at his subject with a reporter’s eye, filling Let’s Play Two with details that should be a revelation to many, though some will merely jog the memories of older die-hard Cubs fans. ―Phil Rosenthal, Chicago Tribune (Click to read full review.)
"This bio of Ernie Banks is a must read. Let's Play Two, by Ron Rapoport is a beautifully written book that captures the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, of Ernie's life. Cubs fans of a certain age will love this book. I give it my highest recommendation, it's that good." ―Bruce Miles, Arlington Daily Herald
“Rapoport’s years of rapport with Banks manifests itself in the completion of a previously unfinished project, now much richer than the original intent because of updated perspective. In his acknowledgements, Rapoport, a former L.A. Times and L.A. Daily News columnist, writes that those who helped him finish this knew Banks as a “joyful, melancholy, humble, complicated, companionable, lonely man … (who) remained imprisoned in an image of one simplistic dimension.” ―Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Times
Listen to Ron Rapoport talk about his news book and the not so fortunate life of Ernie Banks on WGN Radio
"The dichotomy between Banks’ public persona of “Mr. Cub” and the reality of a man whose career was defined by losing and his later years by loneliness is what’s at stake in an engrossing new biography of Banks from the former Chicago sportswriter Ron Rapoport." ―Jon Greenberg, The Athletic
"An excellent and detailed history of one of baseball’s greatest stars and one of the game’s most beloved and misunderstood personalities,Let’s Pay Two is a great read for baseball fans in general and Cubs fans in particular. The definitive biography of ‘Mr. Cub.’” ―Ft. Myers Magazine

Reviews of The Lost Journalism of Ring Lardner

Hear Ron Rapoport’s conversation with Scott Simon on The Lost Journalism of Ring Lardner on NPR’s “Weekend Edition Saturday.”

“It's good to have the lost treasure of Ring Lardner the journalist back with us again. At long last.” —Patrick Reardon, Chicago Tribune (Click here to read the full review.)

“In the end of the day like I was telling to my friends when I was buried in this book, if you are a Ring Lardner fan like I am you will want this book even if you have to pay the full price for it and if you are not a Ring Lardner reader yet I will tell you go ahead and pick up the collections of his stories out there and in due time you will finally find your self searching out for this book too because there is never enough Ring Lardner if you asked me.” —Joshua Baldwin, Los Angeles Review of Books (Click here to read the full review.)

“…A godsend…hugely enjoyable… The columns collected here cover a pleasingly wide spectrum of topics, from the First World War to stage plays to Coolidge-era politics, and most of them show the smart, playful, stingingly memorable prose that would go on to make this writer famous.” —Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly (Click here to read the full review.)

“Every tendril of 20th-century American literature and entertainment shows (Lardner’s) influence. You find him in art high and low. The grotesques of Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty’s sly Southern hicks, the laconic heroes of Hemingway’s first stories, Liebling’s boxers, the rummies of Joseph Mitchell​—​they are unimaginable without Lardner’s having gone before..” —Andrew Ferguson, The Weekly Standard (Click here to read the full review.)

“A welcome doorstop of a book as it unearths the previously neglected delights of Lardner’s non-fiction. You won’t be disappointed.” —Alex Belth, Esquire Classic (Click here to read the full review.)

“A most welcome addition to the many previous collections that have focused almost exclusively on his baseball tales and short stories.” —David Davis, LA Observed (Click here to read the full review.)

“Should be required reading for sports journalists who want to know the roots of their profession. It shows how the superstar newspaper columnist in the early part of the 20th Century actually laid the foundation for what we see on the internet today.” —Ed Sherman, Poynter (Click here to read the full review.)

“This book is an absolute jewel. I not only want to read all of it again; I want to take it on a car date. Ron Rapoport has contributed a masterful collection to the world of sports and literature.”—Dan Jenkins

“Ring Lardner was brilliant—a great newspaper columnist and an even greater short story writer. If you know his work, you’ll love this anthology; if you don’t know his work, prepare to be entertained by one of the funniest, most original voices America has ever produced.”—Dave Barry

“It’s always great to have more Lardner, and here is a fine new trove of him.”—Roy Blount Jr.

“This book is a boon to fans and scholars of Lardner's work alike. I applaud the smart, well-informed introductions and the careful scholarship throughout. Then there is the genius of Lardner himself to savor. This is an important contribution to Lardner studies.”—Richard Layman, author, publisher, and coeditor of Ring W. Lardner: A Bibliography

Reviews of From Black Sox to Three-Peats

"This is a great book for a great sports town." -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Listen to and read about Ron's conversation with Bill Littlefield on NPR's "Only a Game."
"Some cities can boast of more winners, but no town ever had more good people to write about than Chicago. What writers, what characters, what moments!" --- Allen Barra, Chicago Tribune

Read the full rave review on-line or in pdf.

Listen to Ron's conversation with Scott Simon on "Weekend Edition Saturday."
Watch Ron's discussion of the book with "Chicago Tonight" host Phil Ponce on WTTW Chicago.

Read Ron's conversation with Alex Belth in "The Stacks" at Deadspin, which also ran five pieces from the book.
Read Ed Sherman's Chicago Tribune review.
"...not only a feast of good writing but a history of the Chicago sporting scene, the good and the bad." -- Doug Moe, Wisconsin State Journal

Read Doug Moe's review in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Read the Chicago Baseball Museum's review.
Watch Ron talk about the book on "The Final Word" on FOX 32:

Watch Ron talk about the book on NBC:

"This book not only is an aspiring sports journalist's dream, with its collection of heavy-hitting writers, but also a great collection for those who love Chicago sports and take in everything that is Chicago. It's a city of broad shoulders, and in this book, it's clearly also a city of broad pen strokes." -- James Crago, Gapers Block (Read the full review)
"The writing's consistently strong...the book is full of pleasures." -- Michael Miner, Chicago Reader (Read the full review)
"Growing up in Chicago, I was privileged to read some of the sports columnists that Ron Rapoport includes in this marvelous collection. Though I moved to New York to write my own sports column, I continued to enjoy the contemporary Chicago sportswriters. Now, we can re-read all of them, plus greats from past years. From Black Sox to Three-Peats is pure pleasure from beginning to end." -- Ira Berkow, former New York Times sports columnist
"Great sportswriting, of particular interest to Chicago area fans." --Wes Lukowski, Booklist
"I'm not from Chicago, but I can find it on a map and I'm loving From Black Sox to Three-Peats. Order yours today. Or better yet, now." -- Neal Rubin, Detroit News

Reviews of The Immortal Bobby

An...engrossing golf read is “The Immortal Bobby” (Nebraska, 366 pages, $24.95), a welcome paperback release of Ron Rapoport’s 2005 biography of Bobby Jones, the only man to win four major golf championships in one year, 1930. The book deserves a wide audience for its lively depiction of both golf and society early in the last century and for several surprising revelations about the most beloved sportsman of his day.
- John Paul Newport, The Wall Street Journal
Ron spoke at the University of Montana to raves.
Listen to Ron Rapoport discuss The Immortal Bobby with Robert Siegel on "All Things Considered".
There's a fabulous new biography out on Bobby Jones, "The Immortal Bobby," by Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist Ron Rapoport. The author conducted scores of interviews and had access to previously undiscovered correspondence between Jones and some of his friends and acquaintances, including Jim Murray, the late Los Angeles Times sports columnist.

Their illuminating exchange of letters in the 1960s on the Masters not inviting Charlie Sifford, enshrined last fall as the first black in the World Golf Hall of Fame, to the tournament was quite revealing. (more)
- Leonard Shapiro, Washington Post

Biographies are best when they tell us as much about the history of the subject's era as they do about the subject. Rapoport grasps this in the first words of his introduction when he writes: "If Bobby Jones did not exist, the mythmaking sportswriters of the Golden Age of Sports might have had to invent him. And in a sense, perhaps they did.

If you want to learn a thing, or three about Jones and the defining times in which he lived, you should read this book. (more)
- Brian Hewitt,

Read Ron Rapoport's article on The Immortal Bobby in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Bobby Jones turned a small Southern town into the home of golf. And yet, even here, he remains a mystery. He was the greatest golfer of his time, perhaps all time. He was once as famous as Babe Ruth. He remained an amateur when there was money to be had. He was a lawyer, he loved opera, he earned a degree in engineering from Georgia Tech and a degree in literature from Harvard, he made movies in Hollywood, and he designed America's favorite golf clubs for 40 years.

And yet, in a way, Jones remained unknowable.

This is best seen in Rapoport's chapter on Bobby Jones' views on race and the Masters, the biggest issue this golf tournament has faced through the years. (more)
- Joe Posnanski, Kansas City Star

The real strength of Rapoport's profile of Jones is the uncompromising look at how complex the man/athlete was. Like many greats in any field, both Jones' strengths and weaknesses were extreme.
- Mike Imrem, Daily Herald, Arlington, IL
"The Immortal Bobby: Bobby Jones and the Golden Age of Golf, presents a more complete - and complex - portrait of the man from Georgia who was very much a product of his time and place." (more)
- Rial Cummings, The Missoulian
There are several Bobby Jones books out this spring commemorating the 75th anniversary of his 1930 Grand Slam, but none so far is better researched, or told with greater detail, than this one by Rapoport, a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. Rapoport recounts the more fascinating details of Jones' life after doing scores of interviews and poring over the golfer's many correspondences. Jones was a prolific writer; in fact, his own accounts of his golf matches occasionally appeared in the next day's paper. Rapoport says he "discovered a disparity between the man and the myth that was not always so simple." He recounts that despite his gentlemanly image, Jones could hold a fearsome grudge, as he did against fellow pro Chick Evans, whose every attempt at reconciliation was rebuffed. As for 1930, Rapoport brings much of the detail of the Grand Slam quest back to life. Forgotten, until now, are the numerous near-disasters and the internal turmoil that make Jones' ultimate triumph all the more admirable.
- Tod Leonard, San Diego Union-Tribune
A well-done biography places the person in the perspective of his or her time, helping readers understand the subject's family, culture and universe. Ron Rapoport's biography of Robert T. (Bobby) Jones is rich with details of the world of "Bobby Jones and the Golden Age of Golf," the volume's subtitle.

For two decades until his death in 1971, he was painfully crippled from spinal cord dysfunction. "And he never lost his sense of humor," Rapoport writes. Jones was a beautiful human being as well as a great golfer. And this is a marvelous book about his remarkable life "... and the Golden Age of Golf." (more)
- D. G. Schumacher, Myrtle Beach Golf Magazine

"(An) exhaustively researched and anecdote-rich tome on Bobby Jones." (more)
- Peter Kerasotis, Florida Today
Read USA Today's review.
Read Tad Reeve's review in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.