Jim Brown

Last Man Standing
Narrated by: Dave Zirin
Length: 8 hrs and 24 mins
4 out of 5 stars (21 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A unique biography of Jim Brown - football legend, Hollywood star, and controversial activist - written by acclaimed sports journalist Dave Zirin. 

Jim Brown is recognized as perhaps the greatest football player to ever live. But his phenomenal nine-year career with the Cleveland Browns is only part of his remarkable story, the opening salvo to a much more sprawling epic. Brown parlayed his athletic fame into stardom in Hollywood, where it was thought that he could become "the black John Wayne." He was an outspoken Black Power icon in the 1960s, and he formed Black Economic Unions to challenge racism in the business world. For this and for his decades of work as a truce negotiator with street gangs, Brown - along with such figures as Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, and Billie Jean King - is revered as a socially conscious athlete.  

On the most hypermasculine cultural canvases of the United States - NFL football, the Black Power movement, Hollywood's blaxploitation films, gang intervention both inside and outside prison walls - Jim Brown has made his mark. Yet in the landscape of the most toxic expression of "what makes a man" - numerous accusations of violence against women - he has left a jagged mark as well.  

Dave Zirin's book redefines an American icon, and not always in a flattering light. At 81 years old, Brown continues to speak out and look for fights. His recent public support of Donald Trump and criticism of Colin Kaepernick are just the latest examples of someone who seems restless if he is not in conflict. Jim Brown is a raw and thrilling account of Brown's remarkable life and a must-listen for sports fans and students of the black freedom struggle.

©2018 Dave Zirin (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Jim Brown is heroic but no hero. Dave Zirin gives us an extraordinary life of fame, manhood and masculinity that is not always a compliment to its subject but is undeniably important. Last Man Standing confronts the three third rails of American Life - race, class and gender - through an American icon whose triumphs are matched only by his flaws.” (Howard Bryant, author of The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism)   

“Dave Zirin incisively explores the fault lines of race, gender, masculinity, and celebrity while chronicling the career of an American legend. As athletes and women speak out against racial and sexual violence, Jim Brown: Last Man Standing provides compelling context for understanding the urgency of today’s activism.” (Barbara Smith, black feminist author and activist, cofounder of the Combahee River Collective and Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press) 

“In this deeply engrossing, bracingly honest book, Zirin reveals that ‘Jim Brown’ is far more than a mythic name, far more than one of the greatest athletes of all time. This is no fawning homage. This is a sculpted work of truth, a quintessentially American story that will resonate today in a time of burgeoning social activism among athletes.” (Jonathan Coleman, author of Long Way to Go: Black and White in America and coauthor (with Jerry West) of West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life

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Looking for a biography, look elsewhere

Previous to this book, I've read That First Season re Vince Lombardi, Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend, and Muhammad Ali's autobiography. Each of those books were in depth looks at sports figures and their off the field effects, good or bad, and kept the backdrop of the on the field accomplishments in mind while journeying through time & events.

LMS spent just over one chapter discussing Jim Brown's actual football accomplishments despite it spanning nearly a decade and him being, as most suggest, the greatest football player ever. I thought that was odd but it was only Chapter 2 so I thought I'd give it more time.

From there, the book spiraled into portrayals of his off the field actions, some good (Black Economic Union & AmeriCAN contributions), some bad (his violence against women). The backdrop to all of this discussion literally seemed to be focused on Jim Brown's 'member' via various references to Manhood & literal descriptions of his genitals at times. Yes, Brown did say some of these things in his own quotes but the predominant take here consists of a critique of toxic masculinity in the football world (they literally used the phrase to open a chapter) and the dominance of women outside of it. Again, I thought maybe it was a few chapters but the overwhelming substance of the book was basically taking that down while at the same time attempting to portray Brown positively as a trailblazer.

Obviously having read Ali's autobiography & having Being Kareem next on my listening list, I'm happy to hear about social changes that occurred over time and how an athlete influenced that so I was prepared to hear how Brown was such a big part of that. What I didn't sign up for was a minimum of sports coverage on the greatest football player ever and 90% of the rest of the book somehow exposing his actions when they've been visited by the press countless times before, even referenced herein. This book has no business putting Brown in a Browns uniform on the cover when it has basically nothing to do with that period. They should have titled it: 'Woke: Taking Down The Last NFL Player Standing.' It would have been more appropriate. Truly the worst book I've ever read on Audible since becoming a member roughly a year ago.

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Very Rich!

This book is very rich with Black history, American history. It's a great contribution to the archives for current and future generations to come.

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Wow This Is So good!

Conscience Black radical femiminism reckoning with our struggles to stop lynching atrocities inflicted on Black Women's lives. Grateful.

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Performance leaves a lot to be desired

The story is well done, dutifully covering Jim Brown’s life from his birth to today in great detail. The problem lies with the performance. For example, the narrator annoyingly says “Quote-Unquote” for the first chapter or two, then changes halfway through to no longer say it for quotes. This and other problems create a painful listening experience that takes away from an otherwise interesting book.