Eig, Jonathan

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Eig, Jonathan

PERSONAL: Married; wife's name Jennifer; children: Lillian. Education: Northwestern University, B.A.

ADDRESSES: Home—Chicago, IL. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Simon and Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: New Orleans Times-Picayune, reporter; Dallas Morning News, reporter; Chicago magazine, journalist, executive editor, 1995–2000; Wall Street Journal, senior special reporter, 2000–.

AWARDS, HONORS: Won numerous writing awards at Chicago magazine.


Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig, Simon and Schuster (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor of articles to periodicals, including Esquire, New Republic, and American Prospect.

SIDELIGHTS: A senior special reporter for the Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Eig made his debut as a book author with the 2005 biography Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig. Writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Online, John Caroulis noted the difficulties inherent in writing an account of the life and death of one of baseball's most famous players, someone who played 2,130 consecutive games and hit 493 home runs in his career, before being struck by the debilitating disease that finally ended his life. Indeed, Caroulis noted, "Gehrig is more famous now as a victim of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease named for him, that killed him just before he turned thirty-eight, than for his prodigious baseball feats." Thus the prospective biographer must avoid the trap of hagiography, as well as of repeating the same apocryphal tales that so many other biographers of Gehrig, baseball's so-called "Iron Man," have passed on. According to Caroulis, Eig avoids making a myth of the man, providing instead "a full, compelling account of the Yankee first baseman." Caroulis also praised Eig's "impressive research," allowing him to paint a full portrait of this baseball legend, who during his lifetime had to live in the shadow of the great Babe Ruth. Eig provides a rounded picture of Gehrig through an extensive use of letters the baseball player wrote to various people during the course of his final illness. Though Gehrig's voice is not necessarily eloquent, it is honest and forthright, and Eig lets the athlete speak for himself much of the time.

Eig chronicles Gehrig's impoverished beginnings, his baseball scholarship to Columbia University, the courtship and marriage that went against his strong-willed mother's desires, his ascent in his chosen profession, and his final fight against ALS, a losing battle his doctors never let him would end in his death. A critic for Kirkus Reviews felt that Gehrig's decline is "one of the saddest … instances" of a young, popular athlete's death in all of sports history. The same contributor thought that "Eig crafts a portrait that goes far beyond the usual rendering," and his "account brings uncommon humanity to a legendary, golden sports hero." Further praise for this "meticulous biography" came from a Publishers Weekly reviewer who noted that "Eig find[s] lively anecdotes" and is able to describe "his story's medical aspects with powerful sensitivity." Wes Lukowsky, reviewing Luckiest Man in Booklist, observed that Eig is able to get behind the cliché image of Gehrig to add "a third dimension—heart—to our understanding of a legendary ballplayer." Similarly, Bill Ott, writing in American Libraries, commented that Eig "gives Gehrig back his multidimensionality."



American Libraries, April, 2005, Bill Ott, "Baseball When the Bodies Were Real," review of Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig, p. 86.

America's Intelligence Wire, July 28, 2003, John Gibson, "Interview with the Wall Street Journal critic Jonathan Eig."

Booklist, March 1, 2005, Wes Lukowsky, review of Luckiest Man, p. 1129.

Economist, May 7, 2005, review of "Struck Out: Sporting Heroes," review of Luckiest Man, p. 79.

Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2005, review of Luckiest Man, p. 98.

Library Journal, December 1, 2004, Barbara Hoffert, review of Luckiest Man, p. 92.

Publishers Weekly, February 7, 2005, review of Luckiest Man, p. 51.

Sports Illustrated, April 11, 2005, Bill Syken, "The Rise of the Iron Horse," review of Luckiest Man, p. Z6.


Jonathan Eig Home Page, http://www.jonathaneig.com (July 4, 2005).

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Online, http://www.post-gazette.com/ (January 21, 2005), John Caroulis, "Gehrig the Man, Not Legend, Emerges in New Biography," review of Luckiest Man.