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Jack Johnson battled his way from obscurity to the top of the heavyweight ranks and in 1908 won the greatest prize in American sports - one that had always been the preserve of white boxers. At a time when whites ran everything in America, he took orders from no one and resolved to live as if colour did not exist.
This is the winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the year award. He was the first black heavyweight champion in history (1908-1915) and the most celebrated - and most reviled - African American of his age. In Unforgivable Blackness, prize-winning biographer Geoffrey C. Ward brings to vivid life the real Jack Johnson, a figure far more complex than the newspaper headlines could ever convey. Johnson battled his way from obscurity to the top of the heavyweight ranks and in 1908 won the greatest prize in American sports - one that had always been the preserve of white boxers. At a time when whites ran everything in America, he took orders from no one and resolved to live as if colour did not exist. Because of this, the federal government set out to destroy him and he was forced to endure a year of prison and seven years of exile. As Ward shows, Johnson was seen as a perpetual threat to white and African Americans alike - profligate, arrogant, amoral, a dark menace and a danger to the natural order of things. Unforgivable Blackness is the first full-scale biography of Johnson in more than twenty years. Accompanied by more than fifty photographs and drawing on a wealth of new material - including Johnson's never-before-published prison memoir - it restores Jack Johnson to his rightful place in the pantheon of sporting and social warriors.
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
Publication date: 08/01/2015
Publisher: Yellow Jersey Press an imprint of Vintage Publishing
|Publication date:||8th January 2015|
|Publisher:||Yellow Jersey Press an imprint of Vintage Publishing|
|Genres:||Biography / Autobiography, Sport,|
|Categories:||Biography: sport, Boxing,|
Geoffrey C. Ward won the national Book Critics Circle Award in 1989. He is the author of Unforgiveable Blackness and, with Ken Burns, he is co-author of The Civil War and Jazz.More About Geoffrey Ward