Cover image for Great time coming : the life of Jackie Robinson, from baseball to Birmingham
Great time coming : the life of Jackie Robinson, from baseball to Birmingham
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, c1995.
Physical Description:
382 p. : illustrations.
General Note:
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Personal Subject:


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 921 ROB 1 1

On Order

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Far more than a sports book, this is an in-depth portrait of an individual of admirable simplicity and forthrightness, as well as a great athlete. Born in Georgia but raised in Southern California, Robinson was a gifted athlete in many sports in high school and junior college and while at UCLA. It was his intensity and fury, born partly from discrimination, that made him a fighter. Those same qualities got him in trouble as a lieutenant in the segregated U.S. Army during WWII, but brought him success at last when he broke the color line in major league baseball. His spectacular career on the diamond is well known, but Falkner (The Last Yankee) goes beyond his subject's sporting career to detail what happened to Robinson from the time he left the Dodgers in 1957 until his death in 1972. He relates how Robinson devoted himself to the goal of integration with equal rights for all, while around him swirled struggles by the NAACP, the Black Panthers and the Republican and Democratic parties to ally themselves with Robinson, the legend and the symbol, and while diabetes wracked his body. A comprehensive account. Photos not seen by PW. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

Like all fine sports biographies, this one is not merely about an athlete. It is the story of an extraordinary and quite human man who happened to play baseball. Falkner's (The Short Season, 1986, etc.) literate, balanced account strives to get to the facts behind the Jackie Robinson legend, even when it hurts. An outstanding high school athlete, Robinson had repeated scrapes with the law during his teen years in California and was a member of a youth gang. A football star at UCLA, he quit just prior to graduation in 1941 to play semi-pro baseball, basketball, and football. A cloud hangs over his military career, when he was often involved in racial incidents, especially his court martial at Ft. Hood, Tex., for a Rosa Parkslike incident on a bus (he was acquitted). When Branch Rickey signed him to a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers in April 1947, both men knew they had a fight on their hands. The press, the public, and many in baseball vilified them, and Robinson had to endure continuous torment. But the deal was contingent on his vow to remain silent and not fight back. Falkner adequately recounts Robinson's storied career, but he focuses more on the man off the field and how he coped with pressure and fame. Unexpectedly interesting is Falkner's examination of Robinson's life after retiring from baseball in 1956. Named by Roy Wilkins to chair the NAACP's Freedom Fund, Robinson soon found himself to be a rarity: a politically conservative black celebrity. He stunned everyone by supporting Richard Nixon in his 1960 presidential campaign and, later, by going to work for New York's Republican governor, Nelson Rockefeller. His public confrontations with Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell came, ironically, at about the time he was inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame in honor of his historic, groundbreaking career. Intricately detailed and perceptively digressive, Falkner's work is as good as the best books by Donald Honig or Roger Kahn. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Booklist Review

Common wisdom has it that Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play major-league baseball, was the perfect man for a superhuman job. Falkner's biography of the Brooklyn Dodger Hall of Famer examines this premise in detail, attempting to determine what made Robinson "perfect." Much of what he finds--and chronicles in lively fashion--has been observed many times before: Robinson was a superb athlete, in football and track as well as baseball; he came from a strong, closely knit family headed by a proud matriarch who instilled in her children a desire to succeed in whatever endeavor they undertook; he was college educated and had lived among white people all his life; and he had demonstrated repeatedly, especially as an officer in the army, that he could not be intimidated. What Falkner adds to this familiar portrait of Robinson's character is an emphasis on the man's own sense of history. Not only did Robinson understand the responsibility of being the first black player, he also recognized that he had to prove to the world that others should follow him. Falkner, whose biography of Japanese baseball star Sadaharu Oh remains among the best sports books ever, portrays Robinson as a man who, in trying to make a living in an unjust society, found himself cast as the lead in a social revolution. Though Robinson wasn't born to the task, he quickly realized its burdens and carried them throughout his life. Robinson's heroism, Falkner makes clear, is that he became the perfect man for the job through intelligence and character. Highly recommended for every public library. (Reviewed January 1, 1995)0671793365Wes Lukowsky

Choice Review

"I don't know anything about Jackie Robinson," Ken Griffey Jr. is quoted as saying in this wonderful biography, a book Griffey should read. Robinson stands with Babe Ruth as one of the two most significant players in the history of the game--Ruth for his transformative impact on how the game is played, Robinson for his transformative impact on who is allowed to get into the game. Ever since the making of the film The Jackie Robinson Story in 1950, the tale of Robinson's life has been encrusted in myth. Faulkner scrutinizes what he terms "official versions" of Robinson's life story to get at the "facts," which (he says) "seem less simple." Not surprisingly, the US obsession with race remains the dominant context for the biography, but Robinson himself appears as a man of human ambiguities. Falkner is especially helpful in his illuminating analyses of the portions of Robinson's life that bracket his big league career--his troubled years in the military and his decision to support Richard Nixon in 1960. The thoughtful and lonely Jackie Robinson who emerges from the study is a genuine hero. For all libraries. R. Browning; Kenyon College

Library Journal Review

Veteran sports writer Falkner, who has tackled everyone from Billy Martin (The Last Yankee, S. & S., 1992) to Joe Morgan (Joe Morgan: A Life in Baseball, LJ 3/1/93), here takes on the great Jackie Robinson. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.