Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An amazing tale of an amazing man, 28 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (Paperback)
Most people have heard of Joe Lewis, Mohammed Ali and Mike Tyson however the very first black heavyweight champion of the world isn't that well known. Putting it simply Jack Johnson was born 100 years too early. His lifestyle nowadays would be something akin to a famous rapper and quite frankly most of his antics put in a modern context are fairly tame compared to many modern celebrities.

However in the 1900's being an independently minded black man who slept with and married white women pretty much made him the most hated black man in the world. It is perhaps the horrifying level of racism that stops Jack Johnson's story being better known. To put it bluntly if you're white and reading this book you will end up feeling very guilty indeed as the papers write endless column inches on how evil he is and the US courts show that they are by no means colour blind either.

The irony however is for Johnson he never saw his fights as black versus white but merely the fact that as the best boxer of his generation he had a right to have a shot for the title. He was a remarkable man completely out of step with his time, obviously an awesome boxer but also eloquent with a passion for reading, history and music- he was in many ways a more rounded personality than Ali.

It doesn't quite get the full marks for me as while the book is very well researched at times the writer is determined to show you all of his research which bogs down too many stories with a flood of facts and foot notes. A willingness to relinquish some of the data to allow the story to breath a little more would have improved the book.

Overall though read this with a certain slack jawed amazement it's a story that demands as wide an audience as possible.

If you liked this there's more historical debate and fun at @HistoryGems on Facebook and Twitter
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4.7 out of 5 stars (31 customer reviews)
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J. Duducu
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Location: Ruislip

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