Book Review: Pete Rose, An American Dilemma

Title:  Pete Rose, American Dilemma

Author:  Kostya Kennedy

Published:  2014 by Sports Illustrated Books; 341 pages; ISBN – 978-1-61893-096-5; $26.95 new, from $11.88 used

This is a balanced, objective and lively account of Pete Rose’s life and career.  It portrays Rose as a man of contradictions, obsessed with winning, gambling, and making money; capable of kindness, engaging with fellow players and fans, and yet lacking of any moral compass.  Rose comes across as not a bad nor mean person, but lacking in compassion and basic sensitivity for the feelings of others.

Rose’s upbringing is explained and the reader will see how his "win at all costs" attitude came to dominate all other aspects of his personality.  His bitter war with baseball’s hierarchy is explored in depth; as well as his relationship with wives, girlfriends, and children.  A quote is illustrative of his insensitivity to his family — he returns a call that his wife had placed to his hotel room during a road trip, responding, "Karolyn, I knew it was you calling earlier, but I had a girl with me in the room." 

The author ends the dust-jacket summary with the following:  "Where has his improbable saga landed him in the redefined, post-steriod world?  Do we feel any differently about Pete Rose today?  Should we?"  SABR members will enjoy this book and exploring whether or not their opinions about The Hit King might change.

Author background:  Kennedy is an assistant managing editor at Sports Illustrated.  His most recent sports book is 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports, a New York Times best-seller and winner of the 2011 Casey Award.

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