With one good hand, Braddock was forced to labor on the docks of Hoboken. Only his manager, Joe Gould, still believed in him, finding fights for Braddock to help feed his wife and children. The diminutive, loquacious Jew and the burly, quiet Irishman made one of boxing's oddest couples, but together they staged the greatest comeback in fighting history. In 12 months Braddock went from the relief rolls to face heavyweight champion Max Baer, the Livermore Butcher Boy, renowned for having allegedly killed two men in the ring.
A charismatic, natural talent and in every way Braddock's foil, Baer was a towering opponent, a Jew from the West Coast who was famously brash and made great copy both in and out of the ring. A 10-to-1 underdog, Braddock carried the hopes and dreams of the working class on his shoulders. And when boxing was the biggest sport in the world, when the heavyweight champion was the biggest star in the world, his unlikely upset made Braddock the most popular champion boxing had ever seen.
Against the gritty backdrop of the Depression, Cinderella Man brings this dramatic all-American story to life, evoking a time when the sport of boxing resonated with a country trying desperately to get back on its feet. Schaap paints a vivid picture of the fight world in its golden age, populated by men of every class and ethnic background and covered voluminously by writers who elevated sports writing to art. Rich in anecdote and color, steeped in history, and full of human interest, Cinderella Man is a classic David and Goliath tale that transcends the sport.
©2005 Jeremy Schaap; (P)2005 Books on Tape, Inc.
Thank goodness I was "exposed" to the namesake movie only after listening to this book! (Neither the movie credits on IMDb nor the special features on the DVD version list Jeremy Schaap, which leads me to suspect that the only things that the two have in common are the story and the title.) There are so many things I loved about the book that unfortunately didn't make it into the Ron Howard movie--the ambience of the boxing world (and the world beyond sports) in those days, the highly disciplined (and quite possibly extremist) training that Jim Braddock put himself through in preparation for his fight against Baer, the much more sympathetic depiction of "characters" (including Baer, who became a sacrificial scarecrow in the movie) other than Braddock and his immediate entourage...(the list goes on)
Occasionally, truth is more compelling than fiction. Damon Runyon's quote, “In all the history of the boxing game, you'll find no human interest story to compare with the life narrative of James J. Braddock,” is a very good summary of this book. I'm not a boxing fan, but I found this book to be completely absorbing. Jeremy Schaap (author) and Grover Gardner (narrator) bring the characters to life in this entertaining history of boxing during the depression era. If you have seen the movie, then I urge you to listen to this book for a more complete picture of the circumstances surrounding the match between Jim Braddock and Max Baer. If not, then prepare yourself for a thoroughly enjoyable journey back into boxing's illustrious history.
This book is a fascinating historical account of the boxing careers of Jim Braddock and Max Baer. In the movie, Baer is portrayed as a comic book villain, a la Mr. T in Rocky III. In the book, a far more complex character is revealed.
While the film was emotionally compelling, the book reads like a historical account. If you like sports and/or history, you will enjoy this book. If you're expecting to have a more in depth version of Ron Howard's film, you will be disappointed.
Grover Gardner's delivery was, as usual, above par.
It really is too bad such a great story is weighed down by such a nondescript and blas? title because the story is a very entertaining one. Set during the peak of the Great Depression, Cinderella Man walks us through the peaks and valleys of turn-of-the-century boxing before entourages and scandal turned the public off. Although mostly focused on the story of James J. Braddock, we also hear of his contemporaries, their rises, reigns and falls.
This story will inevitably raise comparisons to a contemporary "Cinderella" story: Seabisquit. The horse, however, wins this match hands down. Nevertheless, take a listen to both and transport yourself easily to a different time.
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