I generally try to give very in-depth and detailed reviews about the things that I like, but in this case, I really can't add much to what's already been said. This is an excellent, very well-written and researched book about a man whose legacy has been unjustly buried by many tennis enthusiasts over the years because of the considerable size of his ego and his convictions of having sex with young boys. The latter is obviously regrettable - of COURSE I'm not condoning child molestation - but reading the book gives you a better sense of Tilden the man, why he did what he did, and his struggles with his sexuality while having to remain closeted in the super-homophobic era that he lived in. In fact, in the case of his first conviction, DeFord makes a rather convincing argument that it was the minor who seduced Tilden, not the other way around, and that it was only Tilden's pride and faith in his own celebrity that prevented him from having the charges dropped, especially when the youth would not testify at the trial. Had he been allowed to be openly gay without fear of retribution, there's a very strong chance that Tilden would have not resorted to such nefarious methods of attaining sexual pleasure.
As far as Tilden the tennis player is concerned? He was, at the time of his peak, without peer, and may be the single most dominant player in tennis history. Whether he was the BEST is a different discussion, as it's hard to compare across eras, but the fact that he lost one match over the course of 1923-1924 (there is no record of him losing a match in '24 at all) speaks to his greatness. Not to mention the fact that this stretch of unparalleled dominance came AFTER Tilden had to have part of his index finger removed on his racquet hand. Roger Federer may be a better overall player than Tilden, but even the great Swiss Maestro has never had a stretch of dominance like Tilden at his best (such as winning 57 consecutive games in 1924). There has not been and may never be someone who dominates at such a level ever again.
This review ended up longer than I thought it would be, but the point remains: Bill Tilden does not deserve to be forgotten by the passing of time. If you are at all interested in tennis, buy this book ASAP and relive the tales of one of the best players to set foot on a tennis court. And for the love of God, someone make this man's story into a movie already!