Roger Kahn Introduction - Essay

Introduction

Roger Kahn 1927–

American nonfiction writer, journalist, novelist, and editor.

Best known as a sports journalist, Kahn has written for Esquire, Sports Illustrated, Time, and for the New York Herald Tribune, where his coverage of the Brooklyn Dodgers appeared regularly during the early 1950s. Kahn's prose style is described by many critics as straightforward yet sentimental, and he is commended for his success in recapturing the romantic essence of professional baseball in an era when the sport is considered by many to be a corporate enterprise.

Kahn's first book-length study of baseball, Inside Big League Baseball (1962), was written primarily for young adult readers. It is recommended by critics for its concise history of the sport and for Kahn's descriptions of many former major league ballplayers. Kahn's most critically acclaimed work, The Boys of Summer (1972), is a nostalgic book about the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950s. He fuses reminiscences of the past with present-day profiles of the players, and also includes a complete history of the Dodger organization. As one critic said, Kahn puts the reader "back in touch with our heroes without either cosmetizing or demeaning them." Some critics found especially informative the section on former Dodger owner Branch Rickey and his role in recruiting and signing Jackie Robinson, the first black player in the major leagues. A Season in the Sun (1977) is another retrospective work on baseball, but Kahn also focuses on the contemporary profit-making aspects of the game. Although the book's format is similar to that of The Boys of Summer, critical reception was generally less favorable, with some reviewers describing its content as loose and rambling.

Kahn has also published two novels for adult readers. But Not to Keep (1979) is about a journalist's attempt to cope both with fame and personal problems. The Seventh Game (1982) is a baseball story about an aging pitcher during the World Series. Kahn is also the author of The Passionate People: What It Means to Be a Jew in America (1968) and The Battle of Morningside Heights: Why Students Rebel (1970).

(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 25-28, rev. ed.)