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Jacobs Beach: The Mob, the Fights, the Fifties Hardcover – December 15, 2010

13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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British sportswriter Mitchell offers an anecdotal survey of boxing in the 1950s, often considered the sport’s golden age. He takes a different view, however, citing the Mob’s corrupting influence on the sport during the era, both in fixing fights (“I coulda been a contenda”) and in determining who was selected to fight in Madison Square Garden, boxing’s mecca from the 1930s into the 1960s. It’s a fascinating story, full of great fighters (Robinson, Marciano, LaMotta) and the noirish characters who have always flourished on the edges of the sport, none more so than Mike Jacobs, who controlled boxing at the Garden through the 1940s and into the early ’50s. But when Jacobs’ health caused him to take a diminished role, the Mob stepped in, particularly the charming but lethal Frankie Carbo. Mitchell details Carbo’s manipulations, but, interestingly, he seems a lot more outraged by the corruption than do any of the boxing people he interviews, who largely support the golden-age theory. Either way, the book brings a colorful period in sports history to vivid life. --Bill Ott

Review

“Each chapter is a who’s who of the champs, palookas, ringmen, and wiseguys like Frank Costello and Frankie Carbo who controlled them…. Rich with marvelous anecdotes, this is as much a history of 20th-century boxing as it is a true crime story; it will please fight enthusiasts and mafia mavens equally. Recommended.” (Library Journal)

“Kevin Mitchell, an award-winning Fleet Street sports writer, tells brilliantly the story of that dark and shameful period.” (The Sun [London])

“Mitchell's account brings to life the fight world of that era…a cigar-chomping read.” (Wall Street Journal)

“A tour de force of reportage and research by an author who really knows his stuff.” (Independent on Sunday [London])

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus (December 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605981230
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605981239
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,915,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert C. Scudder on June 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Matowitz is right that the author lacks knowledge of American history, but it goes beyond that. The factual errors in this book are too numerous to detail here, but they jump out at anyone who is at all familiar with the subject at hand. Also, the author is downright insulting in places, especially when he calls James J. Braddock "a patsy who called himself a champion," which is not true at all. Braddock was a brave and dedicated man who triumphed over great odds by sheer will. (I met him once, and when I asked him how he defeated Max Baer he replied, "That's easy. I wanted it more than he did.") Also, the book contains a great deal of rumor and innuendo presented as fact, showing a lack of research.A really good author -- Bert Sugar, for instance-- would have written a much better book than this.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D_shrink VINE VOICE on December 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author had a Damon Runyonesque style to his description of the fight game and some of its luminaries, as in describing Don King, he said, "King didn't invent B*******, he just made it smell pretty." While in speaking of John Gotti he comments that "Gotti dressed pretty but thought ugly." Yet he totally dissed his head henchman Sam 'The Bull' Gravano by stating, "He lived by the oath of Cosa Nostra and he lived a little longer by breaking it."

However, the book primarily covered the 40's,50's, and early 60's without neglecting to mention the earlier and later figures. He gave a rather detailed explanation of Jack Johnson, America's first black champion, and his title loss due to numerous assignations with women of all races, which certainly was frowned upon in the early 20th century. He spoke of the common man's champion James J. Braddock whose life was somewhat glossed up and turned into the movieCinderella Man (Widescreen Edition) starring Russell Crowe. He went into some detail on the first Liston - Ali fight when he was still known as Cassius Clay. It seems that Liston went down early in the first round in a fight held in Maine with a punch that no one saw land. Then there was the famous 1947 fight between Billy Fox and Jake La Motta for the title. La Motta admitted in 1960 to a congressional committee, long after getting out of the fight game that it was a fixed fight.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dan Donovan on September 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I really wanted to give this book a great review. The author, Kevin Mitchell, is not without talent and is obviously passionate about boxing. Unfortunately his passion is not coupled with the hard work of making the book readable and accurate. He frequently uses British expressions (like "stone" for weight) that mean nothing to American readers. And the book is riddled with inaccuracies. The two that killed it for me are 1) attributing the "day that will live in infamy" speech to Gen. Douglas MacArthur rather than FDR, and 2) stating that the non-existent Gabe Genovese took over as boss of the Mob from Frank Costello, rather than his "cousin" Vito!!! Those kinds of errors would not be acceptable in a high school book report, never mind in a professional work of non-fiction. Save your money and give this book a pass.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Marty on December 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was really looking forward to reading this book. The mob of the '40 and '50s era,and it's relation to boxing of this time,is a fascinating topic for me.Unfortunately I'm still going to have to wait for this book.Cause this one ain't it.A lot of what was in this book is fascinating but because of factual errors that should have been easily checked out; it makes you wonder about any of the facts in this story.Especially the error about FDRs speech was amazing! To say nothing of the grammatical mistakes.Was there no editing or proofreading done at all? When a book comes out like this;it should have been a terrific book and very easily could have been.It' a shame.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Henry Tubbs on March 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After reading this book,which after you get by all the grammatical errors along the way,you can see that the author did a shallow job in his analysis of the "boxing" world during the 1940's & 1950's. Nothing new and much of which, added little in way what was already known to the boxing fan of that time period. If you are a new comer to the sport-you might find it enlightening, and you can find all the rumors of the past here under one roof.The LaMotta-Fox fight,Graziano's rumors,Gavilan- Graham are all here, but offers little of new proof other than what was stated at Commission hearings. It would be a tough new interview as most of the cast are long gone but a few boxing oldtimers might shed some new light here, but that came up empty. If you yearn to hear the words Zale, Pep,LaMotta, Clay and Liston-then you might find it a interesting read, but nothing is new here.Dont pay full price.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Thomas G. Matowitz Jr. on April 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Although he is English, I believe the author has gone to considerable lengths to convey the impression that he is a New Yorker and an insider. Unfortunately, this requires a knowledge of the vernacular, and basic American history, which he doesn't appear to possess.
On page 64 reference is made to one of Franklin Roosevelt's most famous speeches, the call for a declaration of war on Japan the day after Pearl Harbor. The quote is not only rendered incorrectly, but ascribed to , of all people, Douglas MacArthur.
Secondly, a few pages later, Roosevelt is described as a homely man who directed the allied war effort from a wheelchair while wrapped in a car blanket. In fact, Roosevelt wore a naval officer's boat cloak, an elegant response to the predicament of getting an overcoat on and off a man in a wheelchair.
I do not claim to be an expert on boxing, but these errors elsewhere in the text cause me to wonder about the rest of it.
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