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A Flame of Pure Fire. Jack Dempsey and the Roaring '20s [Hardcover]

Roger Kahn
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Nov 1999
Jack Dempsey was perfectly suited to the time in which he fought, the time when the United States first felt the throb of its own overwhelming power. For eight years and two months after World War I, Dempsey, with his fierce good looks and matchless dedication to the kill, was heavyweight champion of the world. A Flame of Pure Fire is the extraordinary story of a man and a country growing to maturity in a blaze of strength and exuberance that nearly burned them to ash. Hobo, roughneck, fighter, lover, millionaire, movie star, and, finally, a gentleman of rare generosity and sincerity, Dempsey embodied an America grappling with the confusing demands of preeminence. Dempsey lived a life that touched every part of the American experience in the first half of the twentieth century. Roger Kahn, one of our preeminent writers about the human side of sport, has found in Dempsey a subject that matches his own manifold talents. A friend of Dempsey's and an insightful observer of the ways in which sport can measure a society's evolution, Kahn reaches a new and exciting stage in his acclaimed career with this book. In the story of a man John Lardner called "a flame of pure fire, at last a hero," Roger Kahn finds the heart of America.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 489 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Brace (1 Nov 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151002967
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151002962
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.1 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 416,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"The fact that Jack Dempsey was one of America's preeminent celebrities in the 1920s was the result of both the man himself and the special decade in which he flourished. That is why Roger Kahn devotes almost equal attention to the two phenomena. Together, they give us a brilliantly written picture of a champion and his era."--Ring Lardner, Jr.

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A YOUNG WRITER WHO HAD RECENTLY DISCOVERED William Harrison Dempsey surely was a seductive idea. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dempsey of The Roaring 20's 30 Aug 2002
When Jack Dempsey climbed into the ring to box Jess Willard for the world heavyweight crown, this excellent book shows a photograph of Jack's left hand wrapped in bandages.
Maybe you think - so what? Well, after Jack had demolished Willard, the Kansas said Jack had come into the ring with his gloves on and his hands encased in plaster of Paris. This one photograph puts everything straight. Jack needed only his fists to win.
This book gives you an accurate view of Jack's life and the times he lived in. It is beautifully written and is a pleasure to read. If you are a Jack Dempsey fan then this publication is for you.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb biography 21 Mar 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Jack Dempsey is one of the legendary figures of boxing. A man whose myth grows and grows and whose life is crying out to be turned into a hollywood film. His destruction of Jess Willard, his million dollar fights with Georges Carpentier and Gene Tunney and his 4 minute war with Luis Angel Firpo have turned him into a twentieth century icon. This book tells you all of the details of these stories and also catalogues some of the less well known aspects of his life. Dempsey comes across as a complex figure, a ferocious in ring warrior who would do whatever it took to win a fight, but also a gentle and generous man outside of the ring whose easy going nature made him a target for less charitable people. He lived a hard life before he became World Champion and even though he became immensely successful and popular in his later years he never forgot who he was or where he came from. If you are interested in Dempsey and the history of boxing in the early twentieth century, this is the only book you will ever need to read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I'm a big boxing fan and also an avid reader, so it was a great joy to find a book which shed so much light on one of the great heavyweight champions and was also so well written. Kahn spends quite some time giving background on the '20s, he describes the (sometimes hypocritical) attitudes towards the First World War and Prohibition, this serves to "flesh out" the character of Dempsey and give some appreciation of some of the choices he made. The contrasts between the irresponsible jingoism and scare-mongering of America at this time with the personal struggle of Dempsey against his harsh poverty is very effective.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well researched, detailed and authorative - but I did find the style a little meandering at times which caused me to lose interest and put the book down (perhaps because it was so authorative). Interesting to see how much of the text was copied/borrowed from Jack Dempsey's book on Championship Fighting - for those who have not got a copy of that book, the Flame of Pure Fire gives an interesting snippet of some of Jack's tips for punching hard!

Generally though, although authorative, I personally I felt some of the info would have been better off being left in the footnotes to keep the flow of the narrative going.

Worth reading if you are keen to learn more about Jack Dempsey and boxing's hey day at the turn of the twentieth century. The 'HarvestBook' is also a very fine copy and a pleasure to leaf through - contains some great photos.

If you like this you will love the Jack Johnson Biography by G Ward which is set at a time just prior to Dempsey's reign.
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