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Blows to the Head: How Boxing Changed My Mind (Excelsior Editions) Hardcover – January 7, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"`Why am I fascinated by boxing?' asks Binnie Klein. And like a savvy fighter, she approaches her question from a variety of angles: Is it to do with being Jewish? Being a woman? Approaching middle age? Is it about family history? Klein tackles these questions with a deft and admirably light touch. The result is the warmest, funniest, and most tough-minded boxing book I've ever read." -- -- Kasia Boddy, author of Boxing: A Cultural History

"...[a] delighted tone permeates Binnie Klein's memoir of her boxing obsession ... [the] passages are lean and strong, and convey the allure of pushing a body and mind past their usual limits ... [Klein] doesn't hold back from considerable self-reflection, but it never seems self-indulgent, only pensive." -- ForeWord Reviews

"A graceful, deft celebration of body and soul. Brava to Binnie Klein for tapping her strength--physical, emotional, and spiritual--and for telling a knockout of a personal story." ---- Janet Carlson, author of Quick, Before the Music Stops: How Ballroom Dancing Saved My Life.

"For everyone who ever believed in the ever-mortal wheel of change, Binnie Klein's wonderful tale of change is one of the most unusual stories ever told, one of how she reinvented her own wheel through the sport of boxing and turns around to gaze at the remote past and of what the future holds for her." -- -- Bert Randolph Sugar, author of Boxing's Greatest Fighters

"It's impossible not to be engaged by the story of Binnie--the youngest of three Brooklyn Jewish sisters who was supposed to be a boy named Benny. She skips school to watch General Hospital with her depressed mother, feeling mystified by her ornery, cigar-loving salesman father's love of boxing. Blows to the Head is an inspiring, poetic, and psychologically astute chronicle of how--in her midfifties--this unathletic, brainy psychotherapist finally found a strong, quick-footed, and powerful way to triumph over her past." ---- Susan Shapiro, author of Lighting Up: How I Stopped Smoking, Drinking, and Everything Else I Loved in Life Except Sex and Speed Shrinking

"Until now, I have avoided anything to do with boxing on the grounds that it was brutal and uncivilized. Reading Binnie Klein's elegantly literary, funny, philosophical, moving, and endlessly intriguing Blows to the Head has changed my mind! It's a wonderful discovery." ---- Katharine Weber, author of True Confections and Triangle

From the Back Cover

"I peered through the Venetian blinds in our den, with its view of the playground next door, and watched mournfully as the popular girls played softball. I wanted to run fast, hit hard, and wear a cute uniform. These girls seemed to know something about life that I didn't."

When Binnie Klein took up boxing in her midfifties, the reaction from friends and acquaintances was always the same: "You?" Why, after all, would a middle-aged Jewish psychotherapist with no previous history of athletics take up boxing? In Blows to the Head, Klein offers a provocative tale of an unlikely contender whose unexpected fascination with boxing takes her beyond the ring and leads her back to her roots and to a surprising chapter of the Jewish immigrant experience. With candor and wit, she reveals a series of memories and insights that would never have been possible if she hadn't been drawn toward a pair of boxing gloves during a physical therapy session. In a story that will captivate and inspire women and men, athletes and nonathletes, Klein shows us that if we turn over the "weird stones" on our path, the ones we usually ignore, we may find ourselves on an unexpected journey that will summon vitality back into our lives.


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Product Details

  • Series: Excelsior Editions
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: State Univ of New York Pr (January 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1438430019
  • ISBN-13: 978-1438430010
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,435,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher Carden on January 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
First off I will say that I am not a fan of boxing, despite the important historical and cultural impact that personalities in the sport such as Muhammad Ali and Joe Louis had during the last century. I've read too much about the corruption, hype and brutality that unfortunately has dogged certain segments of the sport since - well, the beginning of human history. However, from the whimsical cover to the final page, "Blows to the Head" is a beautiful, winning and openly personal meditation on the sweet science that convinced me how pure and fulfilling boxing can be in the right hands (no pun intended), and how life-affirming and positive it is for one incredible woman. Binnie Klein "turns over stones" and finds her "out of the box" self as she describes her fascinating personal journey of mind, body and spirit by taking up boxing at an age when many people are considering slowing down and working on Sudoku puzzles as a lifestyle.

Through a variety of compelling anecdotes, the author relates in intimate detail her rigorous training full of blood, sweat and tears with an amazing boxing coach whom she originally discovered through an AARP article, and who becomes a part-Angelo Dundee and part-shaman to her. However, this book contains a lot more layers in addition to describing a woman's personal heroine-quest accompanied by Everlast gloves. With incisive humor and a unique perspective, she relates how she spied a pair of boxing gloves on a wall, and among other circumstances those gloves not only helped to open up to her a luminous new world of personal fitness, strength, and colorful personalities, but also a new-found interest in history and her family's genealogy.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Being a speed bag enthusiast, the cool cover of this book caught my Eye. The early Vaudeville days had many great speed bag performers, including many females. But alas, too few pictures exist that show them. So this cover is a gem. I figured I'd give the book and the author a chance to tell me how boxing changed her life.

And I am glad I did! Inside is a powerful life story about an amazing woman that awakens to her love of boxing in her mid fifties, and gives it a go. Starting from scratch she chronicles her foray into a classic boxing training regime, doing perfect justice to the pain, sweat, injuries, fear of being hit and the colorful cast of characters that surround the inner world that is boxing. But it is more than a boxing story, This author is a highly educated Psychotherapist, incredibly observant of her own behaviors and the human conditions around her. The stories and insights of the books cast of characters is an eye opening walk through some history of the times that few may know, but all should appreciate. I found her writing style very easy to read and completely engaging. Speckled with humor and insights into humanity that proves her degree in psychotherapy was money well spent. What I most admire is the fact that she pays homage and absolute respect to everything that is boxing, including it's history, the trainers, the fighter (Male and Female) and the fans. She clearly loves the sport and the people in it. However, I say again, This is NOT a book so much about Boxing as much as the effect it can have on the lives of those who live it. As a boxing fan myself I whole heartedly recommend this book. The story is interesting and well written, so if you care little for boxing or boxers this book will still provide you with a few solid hours of enjoyable reading.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've been interested in women in boxing for a long time, so I snapped up this book. The author's story is so relatable in that she's not a world-class athlete trained to boxing from birth, but rather a normal middle-aged person who got curious and decided to take it up. She looks at boxing through the perspective of a mental health professional (which she is) to analyze how it can affect the self-esteem and world view of a typical American woman not raised to be an athlete. The hidden delight of this book came in the fact that half of the book is about her training with her talented coach (she doesn't fight any matches so it's mostly fitness training), and the other half is about re-connecting with her Judaism. I know nothing about Judaism, but I greatly enjoyed soaking up the knowledge (the chapter on the Jewish gangsters was especially interesting), and hearing her family stories. Lovely clear writing style. Highly recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
Binnie Klein is a fabulous writer and memoirist, and as she takes you through her process of discovering, in middle age, her desire to take up a sport that many consider violent--well, let me just say that you go right along with her, willingly, happily, cheering for her every step of the way. The things she discovers about herself, about her heritage, about her family will blow you away and give you a deeper understanding of so much about our culture that you may never have known. Her engaging voice, her curiosity, her self-effacing generosity--and ultimately the widening of her heart to take in so much of life, will make your own heart sing. I loved this book and recommend it to everyone--even those, like me, who never thought much about boxing except perhaps to think, "Why do people want to go stand in a ring and hit each other?" Now I know--it's so much more than that.
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