Anyone who knows anything about Don Bradman will repeat by rote the most famous statistic in cricket: that his batting average stood at 99.94 when he chose to end his Test career. But that is all they are likely to know. “The most gentlemanly, polite, ruthless and efficient sporting dominator who ever lived” (in the words of one opponent), is also one of the most enigmatic characters. Viciously protective of his privacy, few have been granted an audience with The Don. Accounts of his life have perforce read like little more than statistical overload.

But at last there is credence in an author’s claims to have produced the “Definitive Biography” of The Don. Authoritative and comprehensive, yes. But insightful too. From the Bowral boy whose ambition was to represent New South Wales, to Test match record breaker, to nonagenarian recluse, Bradman is painted above all as a human being. Most important of all, the tone is of the writer, not the statistician.

With exclusive and rare access to the Don in researching this book, Perry answers the most interesting question of all: What made someone who was a good, but not outstanding, teenage cricketer have a Test average almost 40 runs better than his nearest rival? The answer is not in a single sentence, but in the portrait of a shy but confident boy, unorthodox and self-taught who burned with ambition and danced to his own tune. –Thrasy Petropoulos

The Don: The Definitive Biography of Sir Donald Bradman



1 Comment

  1. R. J. Meeks says:

    If you are looking for deep insights into Bradman the man, then this is not the book for you. This is for cricket lovers only. Almost every Bradman innings is described in exhaustive detail and little insight is gained into what truly motivated him or what he was thinking during the heights of his career. As an example of the focus on cricket the six years of World War 2 are dealt with in just three pages. There is also not a single word of criticism in the original chapters, only during the added sections (presumably in a response to critics), and it is clear that the author is an unabashed fan. This is the work’s principle weakness in that, rather than discover the human behind the myth, it is almost as if Perry is trying to enhance the legend. He also seems too keen on attacking, or pointing out the flaws in, the Don’s detractors and his constant attacks on Douglas Jardine (whether merited or not) come across as if he has been contracted as some sort of hit man in print.

    However the description of the cricket matches themselves is excellent and conveys accurately just how important Bradman was to the cricketing balance of power and what a public attraction he was. It is a shame that such thorough research and accuracy in these sections of on-field action is let down by some proof-reading errors (giving the score as 1 for 76 after the second wicket had just gone down for example).

    This work would be valuable in forming part of the Bradman story, but it is some way from the whole one. For that I can’t help feeling that a non-Australian author would be better suited to the task. The Don is simply too important for an Australian to be dispassionate about.
    Rating: 3 / 5

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