Black Ajax

George MacDonald Fraser, Author Carroll & Graf Publishers $23 (2300p) ISBN 978-0-7867-0553-5
Taking a break from his delightful series about the Victorian scoundrel Harry Flashman, Fraser gives us a superb novel about Tom Molineaux, a freed slave from Virginia who was a boxing sensation in the early days of the sport in Regency England. Fraser's encyclopedic knowledge of 19th-century British mores and slang and his splendid eye for period color have never been put to better use. He tells the story of Molineaux through a series of narrators: Molineaux's trainer and second; contemporary boxing journalists; Flashman's rakish father, who takes up Tom's cause for a time; his childhood sweetheart; a lascivious footman; and others. All of them are characterized with a perfect ear for their particular diction--and, for those taken aback by the authentic vernacular, there is a useful glossary. The portrait of Molineaux--vain, strutting, childlike, at once hugely courageous and profoundly vulnerable--is memorable. Has there ever been a more vivid picture of the thrills and horrors of the early bare-knuckle boxing days, when the sport was at once illegal and a national obsession? For anyone interested in the period, in the place of a black man in a highly stratified society and in a compelling story of courage and ultimate sorrow, this is the book. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/30/1998
Release date: 04/01/1998
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 248 pages - 978-0-00-649981-7
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-7867-0618-1
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7531-0344-9
Compact Disc - 978-0-7531-1240-3
Hardcover - 248 pages - 978-0-00-225585-1
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