Mullane Literary Associates

The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron by Howard Bryant

The HeritageHoward Bryant

Praise for Howard Bryant’s The Heritage

“If you believe that sports can be a lens for interpreting and understanding our world, then The Heritage is the Rosetta stone. Howard Bryant’s latest explains so much about racism and the black athlete’s place in US history that every chapter could be its own college course...twenty-first-century prophetic fire: a polemic homing in on the ways that militarism, sports, and black athletic resistance have become volcanically explosive in the era of Trump. This is the book for explaining our times, whether you give a damn about sports or not.

Dave Zirin, sports editor, The Nation, and author of Jim Brown: Last Man Standing

“Bryant’s account of this tradition is bracing. He’s at his fiercest when he arrives at the present and exposes the fundamental hypocrisy of the shut up and play directive... In an era of controversial wars in multiple countries, why, Bryant asks, should we view these loud displays as “patriotism” and Kaepernick’s silent protest as unseemly politics?

The New York Times Book Review

A fascinating and complex look at the role of black athletes as political activists. Bryant’s analysis of the intersection of professional sports and promoting patriotism (or nationalism, depending on one’s point of view) is especially enlightening.

Library Journal

A fascinating, insightful look at race, politics, and sport.


“A well-researched meditation on the historical pressures on African-American athletes to embrace (or avoid) political engagement... An appealing blend of sports history and provocative discussion of race and success, respect, and representation in America.

Kirkus Reviews

A comprehensive walk through American history, filtered through the lens of sports.... This book will surprise, enlighten, and provide readers food for thought. Heritage lingers in the consciousness—readers will find themselves revisiting its pages long after completing it.”

The Los Angeles Review of Books

This indispensable book expertly chronicles a fractured nation dealing with black players who no longer want to (as Fox News host Laura Ingraham told LeBron James) ‘shut up and dribble.’”

Publishers Weekly

“That The Heritage so thoroughly deconstructs current controversy highlights Bryant’s insight, foresight, and strong writing...essential [to] understanding this tumultuous moment at the intersection of sports, race, business and politics.

The Toronto Star

“An immediate reminder of why athletes feel compelled to protest in the first place.”

Dallas News

Bryant writes with the kind of vim, in turns darkly comic and serious, that pulls you from page to page. It’s a bracing analysis that brings clarity during a hazy season.

Pacific Standard

Bryant’s The Heritage is required reading for young people to realize what they’re seeing isn’t new, for current adults to understand the current climate in American sports and for older folks who lamented the lack of activist voices in the athletic ranks. The baton has been tossed.”

New York Amsterdam News

“Serious times call for serious action.... The Heritage gives the clearest breakdown I’ve read on why we athletes not only have the right to advocate for what we believe in—but oftentimes a duty.

Martina Navratilova, eighteen-time tennis Grand Slam winner

“It may make people uncomfortable, but I’m pleased that Howard Bryant has chosen to tell the story of our heritage, and even more pleased that there are still ballplayers today who are willing to stand up for what they think is right.”

Henry Aaron, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer

About the Author

Howard Bryant is a senior writer for and ESPN The Magazine and appears regularly on ESPN’s SportsCenter and Outside the Lines, as well as ESPN radio affiliates. He has been the sports correspondent for National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Saturday since 2006. A two-time winner of the Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year from Spitball magazine, he is the author of The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron (Knopf), Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball (Viking), Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston (Routledge/Beacon), the sports Legends series for middle-grade readers and picture book Sisters and Champions: The True Story of Venus and Serena Williams for younger readers (Philomel/Penguin), and guest editor of the 2017 edition of The Best American Sports Writing.

Bryant’s columns at ESPN The Magazine were nominated for the National Magazine Award for commentary in both 2016 and 2018. In 2011, he was awarded the Online News Association’s Best Commentary Award. In 2015, he was awarded the New York Press Club award for Best Commentary and in 2016 was awarded the National Association of Black Journalists Salute to Excellence Award for Commentary. A native of Boston, he has held previous posts at the Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, Boston Herald and the Washington Post.

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The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron