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Throughout its history, boxing has thrilled, outraged and elevated fans with its intoxicating combination of primal violence, gutwrenching drama and stirring courage. That potent mix has attracted many of the world's finest writers. The Book of Boxing is a collection of their most powerful efforts.
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No other sport can boast a body of literature that begins with Homer, Theocritus, and Plato; advances through Virgil; matures through the pens of O. Henry, Jack London, and George Bernard Shaw; and flourishes in the hands of Hemingway, Norman Mailer, and David Remnick. But then, boxing is such a primal experience that it draws a distinctly muscular prose from writers who've gotten close enough to stand toe to toe and take it on.
W.C. Heinz, one of the 20th century's towering sports writers, and Nathan Ward have pulled together a remarkable literary stable of fiction, reportage, poetry, profiles, essays, and commentaries to build a tome worthy of being called The Book of Boxing. It's an anthology with a punch, certainly; but like boxing itself, it is aboutboth art and strength, finesse and force, defeat and victory. Fight aficionados will find plenty of old friends here: all of the above, for starters, plus Frank Menke's classic account of the Dempsey-Firpo brawl, Jimmy Cannon, Joe Louis, Mark Kram on the Thrilla in Manila, and James T. Farrell's brutal short story, "Twenty-Five Bucks." But you don't have to be a fight fan to appreciate the action; aficionados of good writing should just take a ringside seat and prepare to be knocked out again and again. --Jeff Silverman
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