(This is a recommendation from August that I forgot to post.)
OK, pseudo-intellectuals, it’s time to climb back in the ring and go a few rounds with another literary recommendation.
But don’t worry, reading this jarring, lively story won’t hurt a bit. Readers always manage to slip the punch. It’s the guys who climb in the ring who get their heads knocked off. That’s particularly true in the heavyweight division, where big, ferocious guys like Mike Tyson rule.
At one time, Tyson was the most fearsome fighter in the most watched division. He appeared invincible as he mowed down every opponent, some of whom were so intimidated that when they went down for the count they had no interest in or intention of trying to get back up.
Until, that is, Tyson climbed in the ring for a 1990 fight in Tokyo with a big, athletic, heretofore underachiever named James “Buster” Douglas. That fight changed the direction of both men’s lives, hence the title of Joe Layden’s terrific book, “The Last Great Fight: The Extraordinary Tale of Two Men and How One Fight Changes Their Lives Forever.”
This well-told tale, the latest recommendation from Jim’s Pseudo-Intellectual Book Club, provides great insight into both the sport and business of boxing. Believe me, the tawdry nature of boxing itself is nothing compared to the sleaze that’s routine behind the scenes. Just as interesting are the personal stories of Tyson, a young thug plucked from the ghetto and turned into brute in the ring, and Douglas, a skilled but indifferent athlete who could take boxing but preferred to leave it.
For those who don’t know the story, in one of the great upsets in ring history Douglas took Tyson’s crown that night. The defeat sent Tyson into a semi-permanent slide downhill while the victory carried Douglas on a meteoric, albeit brief, ride to the top.
While devoted to a sports many find repugnant, it’s a fascinating story filled with family intrigue, jealousy, greed, deceit and self-destruction - all the things that make life worthwhile. You won’t go wrong with this page-turner.
Here are previous recommendations from Jim’s Pseudo-Intellectual Book Club.
[-] “Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission” by Hampton Sides.
[-] “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt” by Edmund Morris.
[-] “A Night to Remember” by Walter Lord.
[-] “April 1865: The Month That Saved America” by Jay Winik.
[-] “Seabiscuit: An American Legend” by Laura Hillenbrand.
[-] “Lindbergh” by A. Scott Berg.
[-] “The Kennedy Men: 1901-1963” by Laurence Leamer.
[-] “The Brother: The Untold Story of the Rosenberg Case” by Sam Roberts.
[-] “Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy” by Jane Leavy.
[-] “Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions” by Ben Mezrich.
[-] “Harry & Ike: The Partnership That Remade the Post-War World” by Steve Neal.
[-] “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” by Michael Lewis.
[-] “Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley & Livingstone” by Martin Dugard.
[-] “In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors” by Doug Stanton.
[-] “Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34.” by Bryan Burrough.
[-] “Flags of our Fathers,” by James Bradley.
[-] “Cary Grant: A Biography” by Marc Elliot.
[-] “Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager” by Buzz Bissinger.
[-] “Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York” by Kenneth Ackerman.
[-] “They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967” by David Maraniss.
[-] “Flashman” (a novel) by George MacDonald Fraser.
[-] “Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling and A World on the Brink” by David Margolick.
[-] “Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics and the Battle for the Soul of a City” by Jonathan Mahler.
[-] “Five Families: the Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires” by Selwyn Raab.
[-] “The Rivalry: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and the Golden Age of Basketball.” by John Taylor.
[-] “American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies” by Michael Kauffman.
[[-] “The Looming Tower: al-Qaida and the Road to 9/11” by Lawrence Wright.
[- ) “A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood’s Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports” by Brad Snyder.
[-] “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game” by Michael Lewis.
[-] “The Education of a Coach” by David Halberstam.
[-] “Arc of Justice: A Sage of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age” by Kevin Boyle
[-] “The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived The Great American Dust Bowl” by Timothy Egan.
[-] “The Wrong Man: The Final Verdict on the Dr. Sam Sheppard Murder Case” by James Neff.
[-] The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House” by John Harris.
[–] “FDR” by Jean Edward Smith
(-) The Unlikely Spy (a novel) by Daniel Silva.
(-) “Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love and Betrayal” by Ben Macintyre
(-) The Interpretation of Murder (a novel) by Jed Rubenfeld
(-) The Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House and Tried to Steal the Country” by Laton McCartney .