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Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 5. Januar 2006

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"A significant achievement... An utterly convincing and frequently heartrending portrait" (Joyce Carol Oates New York Review of Books)

"A formidable accomplishment...Ward has successfully brought this deep and colourful personality, this insufficiently understood and altogether amazing man, back to life" (David Margolick New York Times Book Review)

"A portrait of a fascinating figure, whose oversized personality fills every page." (Bruce Schoenfeld Washington Post)

"Ward is a distinguished and diligent historian, and he has mined original sources to tremendous effect. The detail is dazzling... It deserves an audience far beyond fans of the ring game" (Andrew Baker Daily Telegraph)

"'a delicious detail on almost every page... Research this powerful gives Unforgivable Blackness a richness that rewards contemplative reading'," (Jon Hotten Scotland on Sunday)


First UK publication of the acclaimed biography of the first black heavyweight world champion - and one of the most controversial black figures of the 20th century.

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Buchdeckel | Copyright | Inhaltsverzeichnis | Auszug | Stichwortverzeichnis | Rückseite
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27 von 28 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson 26. März 2005
Von C. Baker - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
In the introduction to his biography of Jack Johnson, Geoffrey C. Ward indicates that his primary source was newspaper articles. And indeed, this biography reads much like a very long newspaper account of the life of Jack Johnson. This isn't good or bad, but an apt description of what it is like reading this biography. In fact, Ward has done a commendable job in weaving what he had to work with into a very readable, informative, and enjoyable work.

Jack Johnson was the boxing world heavyweight champion from 1908-1915. And he was the first black heavyweight champion, which dominates the story of his life inside the ring and out. Johnson became heavyweight champion at a time when boxing was just barely out of the bare knuckle era, and while more organized as a sport, was still a rough and tumble and often illegal activity. Boxing, even as it is today, was often surround by unsavory characters. During that era throwing fights for money or to set up matches wasn't uncommon. Johnson learned his craft literally starting from the bottom up in local tough man or boxing contests and his skills eventually lead him to the top of his sport.

What make Johnson's story so interesting are two things - race and his profligate lifestyle. Race played a key role in his life even though he himself ignored race and didn't let it interfere with how he behaved or what he did. He often sported white women on his arm and eventually married a white woman, and did not defer to anyone, black or white. This made him an even more incendiary figure for the race conscious press and America at the time. Many white heavyweights wouldn't fight Johnson - most notably Jim Jefferies who held the title at a time when Johnson was the obvious deserving opponent for a shot at the champion. Eventually Jefferies retired and "conferred" his title on Tommy Burns, a bulked up white middleweight. Johnson chased after Burns and through the pressure of the press he eventually landed his title shot and dominated his lesser opponent, winning the heavyweight championship of the world.

This eventually lead to one of the most pivotal heavyweight boxing matches in history - and certainly the most pivotal fight of Johnson's career - a match with former heavyweight champion Jim Jefferies. Jefferies was obviously reluctant to come out of retirement to fight the new champion but pressure from friends and many in the press and boxing world, who didn't want to see a black man hold the championship, more or less forced his hand. The fight eventually took place on July 4, 1910 in Reno, New Mexico. Thousands were in attendance but millions throughout the country waited for the result. Johnson dominated Jefferies through much of the fight, eventually knocking him out in the 15th round. Johnson's win legitimized his title as heavyweight champion. Unfortunately, it also touched off violence against blacks throughout the country.

Jefferies utter defeat also lead to a search for a "great white hope" to defeat Johnson. Eventually, Johnson was beaten by a huge but less skilled Jess Willard in Havana, Cuba on April 5, 1915. Johnson probably lost as much because of age, he was around 37 at the time, and the rather unfortunate events in is life from the time of the Jefferies victory to his match against Willard in Cuba. During that time he appears to have spent most of his money, married a white woman who eventually committed suicide, and married another white woman against the violent protests of her family. This led, in a rather convoluted way, to his fleeing the country with his new wife in tow after being brought up on charges of violating the Mann Act. During all this time, and the only reason to mention the ethnicity of his wives, was the vilification Johnson received in the press across America and the hatred he engendered among some, including those in law enforcement, who wanted to bring him down. Thus, Johnson had to go through convoluted negotiations and travel arrangements to even defend his title again Willard in Cuba. Eventually, Johnson decided to come back to America but had to face a jail sentence, which he served. After getting out of jail, broke because he spent most of his money, he mostly earned a living through boxing exhibitions and similar activities.

Johnson's lifestyle some would call raucous. He made a lot of money for his era and he spent it freely on clothes, cars, and the women he kept as companions some of which were prostitutes or former prostitutes. One can look up to Johnson for not letting racism stand in the way of living his life the way he wanted to live it and kowtowing to no one. One could also look askance as his philandering, spendthrift way of life, but who are we to really judge? Undoubtedly Johnson brought some of his problems on himself. Also undoubtedly he was treated unfairly because of the era in which he lived in. Had Johnson lived today he might get some negative press, but more likely he would have a legion of fans who willing to overlook some of the things he did in his private life.

Cars were relatively new invention in early 1900's and Johnson loved cars and bought several of them. He often liked to drive fast. This too eventually caught up with him as, while speeding, he swerved to miss a truck and rammed his car into a tree. He died in 1946 after an adventurous 68 years.

Note this book is the companion to Ken Burn's documentary of the life of Jack Johnson using the same title. I have not viewed the documentary yet but plan to.
16 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Insightful and rich 1. Dezember 2004
Von G. P. Keim - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Admittedly I'm a bit of a boxing fan so the life of Jack Johnson holds some interest for me. And while Johnson's career and his fights are well-presented, the real genius of Ward's book comes in the way he eloquently fills in the blanks of an amazing man who lived the life he wanted with all of society trying to prevent him from doing just that. I'd hate to see this book get relegated to sports sections in book stores when it so clearly is a well-written, remarkable biography about a groundbreaking man that everyohne should read.
19 von 21 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
The Title Says It All 3. Dezember 2004
Von John Matlock - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
The title, all by itself, sums up Jack Johnson's life. Born in Texas in 1878, only 13 years after the end of the Civil War, in the heyday of the Klu Klux Klan he emerged as an early day Mohammed Ali. As a fighter he was probably the best of his time. As a flamboyant character outside the ring he seemed deliberately out to tweak the noses of the white (and some of the black) establishment.

And if he excelled in the ring, he truly triumphed at nose tweaking. He told outlandish stories. He attracted women of all races as he traveled from city to city and country to country. And as he took on all comers in the prize ring, he took on all comers among the ladies as well. This was enough, at that time in the South, to get him lynched.

One of his episodes with a young lady resulted in him being convicted of the Mann act. This act made it illegal to transport womes across state lines for amoral purposes. Originally intended as a way to stop prostitution (who were they kidding), it was also applied in mixed race situations against the negro man. Eventually this gave him nearly a year in federal prison.

Extensively researched, this is a brilliant biography of a most colorful character, who if he'd been white would have been a hero.
10 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Man without color 14. April 2006
Von lordhoot - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This book proves to be an interesting biography about a man who choose to lived his life as he see fit and not the way society saw fit. He became a heavyweight champion of the boxing world, showed off his wealth and proves to be most unapologic about his lifestyle. He was a non-conformist in a world that demanded conformity. This man was Jack Johnson, considered as one of the finest heavyweight boxing champions and he was also black man ignoring the rules of white America. This biography make it clear that by ignoring the rules of white America, Johnson had to fight, not only in the ring but outside of it as well. In some ways, Jack Johnson was a combination of Muhammad Ali and Barry Bond of his era. Unlike those two gentlemen, Johnson lived in a period of extreme low tolerance for any black man not conforming to the social standard. Johnson's taste for white women, his affuent lifestyle and his brash words made him one of the most hated black man among white America and caused of discord among black America. His disrespect for Joe Louis toward the end of his life also caused him many black supporters. He seem to be a man without color, doing what he want regardless of what white or black people thought about it.

Geoffrey C. Ward managed to write a highly interesting biography on this individual. He separate Johnson from his myths, legends and lies to create a honest picture. This was probably somewhat difficult since Johnson, his friends and his infinite enemies were behind the myths, legends and lies. What comes out is a highly readable, very informative and pretty interesting biography of a man who simply refused boxed himself in.

Book come highly recommended and an excellent study of racial relationship between black and white America.
13 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
The Life and Times of Boxing Great Jack Johnson 6. Februar 2005
Von C. Hutton - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Geoffrey Ward has specialized in writing the companion volumes to the various documentaries (The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, Mark Twain, and The West) created by Ken Burns. This coffee-table size book is no different from the other books in this American history series.

Well-written and lavished with rare and numerous photos, it tells more the story of an era through the career of boxer Jack Johnson. The one constant theme of the many joint projects between Mr. Ward and Mr. Burns is race -- and they explore the life of this attention-seeking boxer (similiar to Mohammed Ali a half century later) to examine the everyday racism present in the early 1900's.

This is not the definative biography of Jack Johnson -- for that the reader must go elsewhere for dates and boxing lore. Nor is it the interpretive account of the man (though they come close)--for that the reader should either read the play or view the 1970 James Earl Jones bio film, "The Great White Hope" (now out on DVD). But if the reader is interested in the history and attitudes of Americans in the first half of the 20th century as seen through the life of Jack Johnson, then this is your book.
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