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Jim Brown


In the first independent biography of one of the most important athletes ever, Mike Freeman explores the many facets of the controversial and enigmatic Jim Brown. Even at 66–years old, Jim Brown still possesses the qualities, in abundance, that made him one of the most important athletes of the 20th century. Brown's hardened will was the catalyst that moulded him into such a great athlete and provided him with the confidence to become an unflinching symbol of black pride and self–reliance. His legend remains as sturdy as the body–scattering runs that lifted him to prominence. There is no doubt about it: he is the greatest pure runner football has ever known. Brown was a physical masterpiece, intimidating on and off the field. He is the only player to be inducted into the Pro Football, College Football, and Lacrosse Halls of Fame. It was his magnetic appeal that enabled Brown to crush previously taboo sexual images of blacks in Hollywood. It was Brown who became the first black action star, with leading role in The Dirty Dozen.

But Brown had ambitions greater than football. He used his athletic brilliance to launch a movie career, becoming Hollywood's first black action hero, culminating in a scandalous love scene with America's sweetheart, Raquel Welch. He leveraged his popularity into helping the NFL's black players as well as becoming a civil rights activist. Never shy about expressing his opinions, Brown and his organizations would become the subject of FBI investigations and surveillances throughout parts of his life. JIM BROWN: THE FIERCE LIFE OF AN AMERICAN HERO is part biography, part cultural historythat chronicles not just Brown himself, but how the passion and chaos of the period in which he rose to stardom, mainly the 1960s, and in particular the civil rights movement, influenced Brown and how he influenced that decade. Brown remains an engrossing figure, one who still attracts the attention of both sports fans and non–sports fans alike. There are many shades of Jim Brown: The All–American; The Best Player Ever; The Hollywood Star; The Activist; The Father; The Violent Temper that got him locked up. This is the stunning story of an athlete who overcomes racism during the civil rights movement, to become a leader in his community.

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Forty years after his retirement from pro football, Jim Brown is still commonly referred to as the greatest running back ever and sometimes simply as the greatest player in NFL history. Throughout, he has been a confident, intelligent role model, working intently for black economic independence and for the alleviation of urban gang violence. Yet, he had frequent run-ins with the law over his alleged violent treatment of women; he had no relationship with the children he fathered. Can this flawed man be a hero? Sports journalist Freeman (ESPN: The Uncensored History) attempts to answer in the affirmative while dealing honestly with all evidence to the contrary. He addresses Brown's football career only sporadically, jumping around and using quotes from other writers to serve as analysis. One of Freeman's key sources is an anonymous former FBI agent who spied on Brown in the 1960s and 1970s. This deep background adds much to the book, but the author gets a bit out of his league when he delves into the general ethics of spying. Overall, this study of an important figure in recent American sporting and cultural history is an engrossing read on several levels. It would be welcome in any library.-John Maxymuk, Rutgers Univ. Lib., Camden, NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"Definitive...a fascinating look at a culture in transition...Freeman captures the life of a legend with grace and passion."--Publishers Weekly "[Freeman is] an excellent storyteller...what resonates most is Brown's fierce determination to do things his way."--Sports Illustrated Definitive...a fascinating look at a culture in transition...Freeman captures the life of a legend with grace and passion. --Publishers Weekly" [Freeman is] an excellent storyteller...what resonates most is Brown s fierce determination to do things his way. --Sports Illustrated"

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