Accessing the moments and memories of a bygone era and a time of spectacular achievements, Jerome Charyn has delved into the mystery of Joe DiMaggio and brought him to life. In Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil, we follow Joe from his beginnings, to his fame in baseball, into his two marriages and then on to his decline. And through it all, we begin to get a picture of the man behind the legend.
He was a man known for his grace and his dignity, a star centerfielder for the New York Yankees from the years 1936-1951. His career did not end with baseball however; he is also famous as the husband of Marilyn Monroe. A private man well respected and revered in sports, he was nevertheless second fiddle to Marilyn, a woman whose life was even larger than his own. While Joe DiMaggio certainly details the marriage reported at the time, this book is in no way about Marilyn, yet she is still a part of it.
Charyn uses the myriads of information on the life of “Joltin” Joe and wends it into a detailed look at his life, and the effects he had on those around him. As you read the information, you are at once drawn to Joe’s character, and yet put off by some of his reasoning. It is the story behind the story of a man who became a legend. It is also the story about a man who helped to build the legend of Marilyn as well.
He is a remarkable character, but with flaws that make him as human as the rest of us. He surrounded himself with people of character, unique and funny, and usually well known. He was friends with Frank Sinatra, Hugh Hefner and Ernest Hemingway — to name a few. While the book takes you through his baseball years, along with his remarkable abilities, it also details his tortured relationship with Marilyn, the woman that captured his soul. There is sadness and despair, anger and frustration, and through it all Charyn keeps you caring and understanding about Joe’s past.