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Barney Ross: The Life of a Jewish Fighter (Jewish Encounters) Paperback – 11 Aug 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken Books; Reprint edition (11 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080521173X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805211733
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 920,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Douglas Century is the author of "Barney Ross: The Life of a Jewish Fighter" and "Street Kingdom: Five Years Inside of the Franklin Avenue Posse." He has coauthored several best-sellers, including "Under and Alone," with William Queen; "Takedown: The Fall of the Last Mafia Empire," with Rick Cowan, which was a Finalist for the Edgar Award - Best Fact Crime; and "If Not Now, When?" with Colonel Jack Jacobs (Retired), Recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Century's most recent book is "Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life, from South Central to Hollywood" coauthored with Grammy Award-winning singer and actor Ice-T.


Born in Calgary, Canada -- May 5, 1972 -- Century's books have been featured and reviewed in publications, including the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Parade Magazine and Publisher's Weekly. They have received coverage on The Today Show, National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and "This American Life," among many other radio and television programs.

Century's latest book is "The Dark Art," coauthored with Edward Follis, DEA Special Agent (retired), published by Gotham Books in the United States, by Scribe in the U.K. and Australia, and forthcoming in translation by a variety of publishers in Germany, France, Italy, Czech Republic.

In addition to beginning work on a fictional thriller series set in the world narco-terrorism, Century is also co-writing and producing the original screenplay adaptation of "Street Kingdom."

Century is a contributing editor at Tablet Magazine: A New Read on Jewish Life, a regular contributor to Billboard magazine, and continues to write articles and essays to other leading national publications such as The New York Times and ArtNews.

http://www.douglascentury.com

https://twitter.com/DouglasCentury

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By N. H. Firman on 13 July 2007
Format: Hardcover
I found this an excellent account of a very brave & interesting man appart from his prowess as a boxer
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 16 reviews
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
The story of a true champion 19 Feb. 2006
By Shalom Freedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Bert Sugar the dean of Boxing Writers reviews this book for the NY Times and finds it to be outstanding. Jeff Z. Klein in 'Nextbook.com' interviews Douglas Century and gets an inside view of his fundamental conception of Barney Ross. Century's articulate and insightful responses to Klein give the sense that this book is first-class.
Barney Ross was along with Benny Leonard one of the two greatest Jewish prizefighters of all time. He at one time held three titles. His three- fight series with Jimmy McLarnin in which Ross won the first and the third are considered among the great classics of the sport. In his final fight Ross took a terrible fifteen round beating from the one Sugar considers to be pound-for-pound the second greatest fighter of all time Henry Armstrong. Ross despite the insistence of his handlers would not throw in the towel. And he did not go down. He went out like a champion- on his feet. And afterwards he kept his promise to never fight again if beaten.
Later as a thirty- four year old ex- champ he volunteered and went to the Second World War. One night on Guadacanal his unit was attacked by the Japanese. He personally killed twenty- two enemy soldiers while saving the lives of two other wounded members of his platoon. For this he won the Silver Star. However it was at Guadacanal that he was first given the morphine which would be the destructive force of his life, and lead to his addiction.
Century says that Ross was unusual for a fighter, especially sensitive, and with a desire to not really hurt others. He says that often in training sessions Ross would stop if he saw the sparring partner was hurt. He tells the story of Ross from the time he is an orphan in Chicago, all through the years of his career and beyond. This includes the role Ross played in getting arms to the struggling just declared state of Israel when attacked by five surrounding armies.
Century in the course of writing the book came to know Ross' brother who gave him many interesting personal anecdotes. One tells about how Ross would come to his brother's house, ask him to come along, and then walk silently with him for a few hours through the night. And this perhaps an indication of how lonely this great American hero could be.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
BARNEY ROSS AND BARNEY SUGERMAN WERE BEST FRIENDS 13 May 2006
By charmingman68 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I KNEW BARNEY ROSS WHEN I WAS A YOUNG LAD GROWING UP IN THE SUBURS OF NEWARK NEW JERSEY. BARNEY SUGERMAN Z'L, MY FATHER AND BARNEY ROSS WERE CLOSE CLOSE FRIENDS. SUGIE AS MY FATHER WAS ALSO KNOWN WAS IN THE JUKE BOX AND GAME BUSINESS. HE CAME OUT OF THAT VERY SPECIAL WORLD OF PROHIBITION, ROARING 20'S, PROUD JEWS INCLUDING MOBSTERS AND PRIZE FIGHTERS. POP HAD HIS OFFICES AND BUSINESS ON JUKE BOX ROW, TENTH AVENUE AND 43RD STREET IN MANHATTAN. BARNEY ROSS WAS AT THE OFFICE TWO OR THREE TIMES A WEEK AND AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK, THE TWO BARNEYS WOULD MAKE THE ROUNDS IN THE CITY. DOUGLAS CENTURY DID AN OUTSTANDING JOB OF CONVEYING THE TRUE PERSONALITY AND CHARACTER OF BARNEY ROSS. THE BOOK IS OUTSTANDING. IT CAPTURES THE TRUE SPIRIT OF BARNEY ROSS. I WILL TELL YOU THAT WHEN BARNEY ROSS WOULD SAY HELLO TO YOU, IT MADE YOU FEEL YOU WERE SPECIAL. HE HUGGED YOU, KISSED YOU, AND HE BLESSED YOU IN PERFECT HEBREW AND IN PERFECT YIDDISHE. HE WAS A REAL PROUD JEW AND HE KNEW THAT HE CARRIED ON HIS SHOULDERS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF JEWISH PRIDE TO A NATION THAT HAD NOT YET FULLY ACCEPTED THE JEWISH PEOPLE. IN FACT GROWING UP, ANTI SEMITISM WAS NOT A RARE OCCURENCE. BARNEY CARRIED THE CROWN OF JEWISH PRIDE WHEREVER HE WENT. I WILL TELL ONE STORY. IN THE MID 50'S I WAS A STUDENT AT BUCKNELL UNIVERSITY WHICH WAS A SCHOOL ASSOCIATED WITH THE BAPTISTS. IN THOSE DAYS, THERE WAS A LIMIT ON JEWS GOING TO BUCKNELL, WE HAD A 5% QUOTA. SO WE HAD ONE JEWISH FRATERNITY HOUSE. IN MY JUNION YEAR, 1958, WE HAD AT THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR THE ANNUAL SPORTS EVENING. ALL THE ATHLETES OF THE SCHOOL WENT TO THE ANNUAL DINNER. SOMEBODY KNEW THAT MY FATHER AND BARNEY ROSS WERE CLOSE FRIENDS, AND THE SCHOOL BOXING COMMITTEE ASKED ME IF IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE TO INVITE BARNEY ROSS TO COME UP TO THE SCHOOL TO GIVE A SPEECH. I CALLED POP. HE SPOKE TO BARNEY ROSS. BARNEY RIGHT AWAY SAID OF COURSE HE WOULD BE HAPPY TO DO IT. THAT WAS BARNEY ROSS. THE WORD "NO" DIDN'T EXIST IN HIS VOCABULARY. I TOLD POP TO MAKE SURE HE WAS UP BY 4 OR 4.30 BECAUSE THE DINNER WAS SCHEDULED FOR 6 PM. POP PICKED BARNEY UP EARLY IN THE MORNING. IT WAS NO MORE THAN A 4 HOUR DRIVE UP THROUGH ROUTE 22 TO MAKE IT TO LEWISBURG PENNSYLVANIA. BUT NO SIGN OF THE TWO BARNEYS AND BY 5 PM. I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO LOOK LIKE THE LAUGHING STOCK OF THE SCHOOL. FINALLY AT SIX PM ON THE DOT THE BIG BLUE FOUR DOOR CADILLAC PULLED UP AND OUT CAME BARNEY ROSS WITH BARNEY SUGERMAN. BARNEY ROSS SMELLED LIKE HE FELL INTO A BATH TUB OF WHISKEY. I ASKED POP WHAT THE HELL TOOK HIM SO LONG. POP EXPLAINED THAT BETWEEN NEW YORK CITY AND LEWISBURG PENNSYLVANIA BARNEY ROSS INSISTED ON STOPPING IN EACH TOWN AND HAVE A DRINK. AS SOON AS HE WALKED INTO A BAR IN THOSE LITTLE BLUE COLLAR TOWNS IN NORTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA, GUYS IMMEIDATELY RECOGNIZED HIM AND BEFORE LONG, "BARNEY HAVE ANOTHER DRINK ON THE HOUSE, AND TELL US ABOUT THE FIGHT WITH TONY CANZONERI, WITH JIMMY MC LARNIN, ETC."

WE BROUGHT BARNEY INTO OUR SAMMY HOUSE FRATERNITY. HE WAS SURROUNDED BY ALL THE GUYS IN THE FRATERNITY WHO WANTED TO SAY HELLO TO BARNEY ROSS AND SHAKE HIS HAND, ETC. BARNEY ROSS HOWEVER WAS THREE SHEETS TO THE WIND. I WAS WONDERING HOW THE HELL HE WAS GOING TO GIVE A SPEECH AT THE SPORTS NIGHT EVENT.

WE WENT TO THE DINNER. THE PLACE WAS MOBBED WITH ALL THE JOCKS AT BUCKNELL. NATURALLY, THE VAST MAJORITY WERE NOT JEWISH. BARNEY GOT UP TO SPEAK. HE HUGGED THE MICROPHONE AND HE STARTED TO SPEAK. HE SPOKE SO QUIETLY, BUT SO ELOQUENTLY AND SO PASSIONATELY ABOUT HIS LIFE GROWING UP AS A JEWISH BOY IN CHICAGO, HIS FATHER'S TRAGIC MURDER, HIS ENTRY INTO BOXING, HIS CAREER, HIS FIGHTS, HIS WAR TIME EXPERIENCE, HIS DRUG ADDICTION AS A RESULT OF THE WOUNDS HE SUFFERED DURING THE BATTLE AT GUADACANAL AND HIS STUGGLE TO BEAT THE HABIT. THAT EVENT TOOK PLACE NEARLY FIFTY YEARS AGO. I REMEMBER IT LIKE IT HAPPENED TONIGHT. BARNEY ROSS WAS A CHAMPION AS A FIGHTER, BOTH IN THE RING AND IN THE BATTLEFIELD BUT THAT NIGHT HE WAS A CHAMPION OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE. KOLHAKAVOD TO DOUGLAS CENTURY. HIS BOOK IS A TRIBUTE TO THE TRUE CHARACTER OF BARNEY ROSS
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
awesome story ; a must read 10 Mar. 2006
By jorge abaroa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Whether you are a fan of boxing or not; you will appreciate this truly remarkable story. It is real life at it's best! Douglas Century has written a beautiful book steeped in history about Chicago, New York and really the world. Barney Ross was a great man, his story both inspires and captivates the reader. Thanks to Mr.Century his incredible life will live to inspire others. I went to Barney's grave site to pay my respects. I left a little blue boxing glove on his headstone. It seemed only fitting for a man who fought his whole life, in and out of the ring; and in the end gave much more than he took. Thanks Barney. Read the book, you will NOT be dissapointed....
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A fascinating portrait of a Jewish tough guy 4 Oct. 2007
By Daniel Berger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Every few years I stumble across a short, breezy biography that far better treats its subject than it would have at ten times the length. "Barney Ross" is one of these delights.

Douglas Century's story of Jewish boxer Barney Ross renders an evocative portrait of the forgotten, dangerous world inhabited by the ancestors of today's American Jews a century ago.

Ross's father was a Talmudic scholar, chased from the old country by pogroms, and murdered in the new one during an armed robbery. The family was scattered. Ross boxed for money to get the youngest brothers out of an orphanage, which he did.

The book illuminates two colorful groups of yore: Jewish boxers and gangsters. Both groups - the one aboveboard, the other not - speak to a Jewish yearning for strength, as well as an ambivalence about it, after centuries of weakness. Judaism disparaged athletics, let alone criminal violence, from the time of the Greeks and Maccabees.

Tough guys - shtarkers, in Yiddish - weren't what their mothers wanted them to be, but had credibility on the Lower East Side and Chicago's Maxwell Street, where Ross grew up. Both gangsters and boxers stood up for their people when no one else would, defending their neighborhoods against interlopers.

Ross, who simultaneously held three titles in the 1930s, was definitely one tough boychik. In 81 pro fights, he was never knocked out. That includes the last one in which, over the hill, he was savagely beaten by Henry Armstrong. Virtually helpless, he took an estimated 1200 punches, but refused to go down and kept answering the bell. He never said "no mas" in any language.

He was just as tough at Guadalcanal, enlisting in the Marines at the advanced age of 33. He fought alone through a harrowing night to defend several wounded and cutoff men, firing hundreds of rounds and throwing dozens of grenades. They were finally relieved the next day. Around Ross's foxhole lay two dozen dead Japanese soldiers.

Hospitalized for three months, Ross began a morphine addiction which nearly killed him. He fought it just as courageously, turning himself in for arrest so that he could be sent to a prison specializing in drug addiction treatment. His drug addiction tainted his celebrity; a planned biopic was quashed and turned instead into a fictional story loosely based on his life. This is why most people today have never heard of him.

Ross worked to raise money and Holocaust awareness even as the Warsaw ghetto uprising raged. He smuggled guns to the Irgun for battles leading to Israel's independence. And he may have been one of the Jewish tough guys who terrorized Nazi sympathizers in Chicago in the 1930s. Another was Jack Ruby, a friend of Ross's; Ross last entered the public eye when he was questioned by the Warren Commission about Ruby's early entanglements with Chicago gangsters.

As Century notes, Ross was special. He retained religious ties throughout his life. He didn't have much of a mean streak, apologizing to his sparring partners for hurting them and showing little taste for putting away a weakened opponent. To Jews, boxing was a means to an end, a way out of poverty. When times changed, twenty years later, there were no more Jewish boxers. This little book is a reminder of what life was like for American Jews before they succeeded.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Strong and compact 23 Mar. 2006
By David Cohen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The book is a slender but effective biography of Barney Ross, a boxing champion whose life was a remarkable series of ups and downs. The boxing prose isn't a match for A.J. Liebling, but the author does a good job with the fight material, and he's just as adept in examining other periods in Ross' life (wartime heroism, followed by postwar heroin addiction).

There are two notable subtexts in the book - one that involves a search for a bygone world of immigrants and ethnic identification, and the other that deals with the uneasy relationship between the intellectual and the physical among 20th century Jews. That may seem like weighty stuff, but it's not - the author does a solid job of keeping the book constantly readable.
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