Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Book Review: Miller's Luck, by Roland Perry.

by Ben Roberts, a re-post from our affiliate Book Review blog, Books with Balls.

I entered into this book with trepidation. For a long time I have been searching for a Keith Miller biography that was not this effort by Roland Perry, with no luck. One of the great cricket writers David Frith was scathing in his review of Perry's work, citing multiple factual errors that grated on him. Similar critiques have been provided by Gideon Haigh and even by ourselves.  I scoured second hand book stores, and found all that filled their shelves were multiple copies of Miller's Luck by Roland Perry.

Deflated that my searching had come to nothing, I swallowed my pride, took my desire to find out more about Miller to the local library and lifted a copy shelf. As I found out as I read it a previous borrower had too become so frustrated with errors (though their frustrations were World War II facts) that they had taken to the book with a pen themselves!

Without even re-hashing the factual inaccuracies of the work, simply put this biography is deplorably written. Rather than a study of a complex and polarising character, Perry serves up 500 pages of hero worshipping that completely turns you off as you read. Miller was a tremendous all-round cricketing talent and a war veteran who escaped death multiple times (often due his own insubordination). However he also was a heavy drinker, addicted gambler and constant philanderer that makes the overriding rhetoric of hero worship difficult to justify.

As a cricketing talent he could easily be worshipped; a war veteran, definitely respected. Limited to discussion primarily on these two topics such a subjective take on the man could well be accepted. But the reality was that for all the success Miller had on field it clearly came at a very heavy cost to his family which is an indictment on the man, an impression that Perry has not sufficiently captured and in fact missed completely.

Because of the books length and quantity of information provided (despite factual errors) the dedicated and discerning reader has the opportunity to draw their own conclusions about Miller and his life. Absolutely, the descriptions of Miller's love affair with Lords and the tremendous innings he played there during the post war years make me long to travel back in time, but in all the book fails on a number of fronts. Zero stars.

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