Jim Brown: The Fierce Life of an American Hero
Mike Freeman. William Morrow & Company, $25.95 (289pp) ISBN 978-0-06-077682-4
In the context of today's world of sports-commercialization, bloated salaries and superstar athlete egos-the newest from sports writer and author Freeman (Bloody Sundays) is not just a definitive biography of pioneering African-American athlete Jim Brown, arguably the best football player ever, but a fascinating look at a culture in transition. Broken down by decade, each section of the book covers a distinct phase in Brown's life and career, based on old coverage as well as new interviews with family, friends and enemies. In an engaging, honest and powerful narrative, Freeman covers all aspects of the American hero, including his amazing athletic feats-besides football, he was also a top-notch lacrosse player-as well as his work with the Civil Rights movement, his explosive anger and his run-ins with the law. Beginning in the fifties, Freeman convincingly recreates the dirty game of the time, in which shoves and blinding jabs to the eyes were commonplace-especially for Brown, as Freeman uncovers in candid interviews with players and coaches who admit to pointed attacks on the running back. Though he forgives the American hero a little too easily for his history of domestic abuse, Freeman captures the life of a legend with grace and passion, while brilliantly exposing the hypocrisy and cruelty suffered by the black athletes of yesterday.
Reviewed on: 10/30/2006