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Jim Brown: The Fierce Life of an American Hero Paperback – October 16, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; Reprint edition (October 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060776838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060776831
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,126,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the context of today's world of sports-commercialization, bloated salaries and superstar athlete egos-the newest from sports writer and author Freeman (Bloody Sundays) is not just a definitive biography of pioneering African-American athlete Jim Brown, arguably the best football player ever, but a fascinating look at a culture in transition. Broken down by decade, each section of the book covers a distinct phase in Brown's life and career, based on old coverage as well as new interviews with family, friends and enemies. In an engaging, honest and powerful narrative, Freeman covers all aspects of the American hero, including his amazing athletic feats-besides football, he was also a top-notch lacrosse player-as well as his work with the Civil Rights movement, his explosive anger and his run-ins with the law. Beginning in the fifties, Freeman convincingly recreates the dirty game of the time, in which shoves and blinding jabs to the eyes were commonplace-especially for Brown, as Freeman uncovers in candid interviews with players and coaches who admit to pointed attacks on the running back. Though he forgives the American hero a little too easily for his history of domestic abuse, Freeman captures the life of a legend with grace and passion, while brilliantly exposing the hypocrisy and cruelty suffered by the black athletes of yesterday.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Of the great running backs of football's modern era, the first and probably best was Cleveland Browns fullback Jim Brown, who played from 1957 through 1965. As Jackie Robinson did in baseball, so Brown helped break down football's color barrier and revolutionized his game, bringing quickness and finesse to what had been a power position. So any biography that reminds fans of Brown's importance to football well serves the strong sports collection. Freeman, former Florida Times-Union columnist who now writes for cbs.sportsline.com, brings competence, if not great wit, to his task, tracing Brown's life, from his embattled and unorthodox youth (Brown was one of the nation's premier lacrosse players as a high-schooler) to his Syracuse University playing days, through his nine seasons with Cleveland (playing every game), through his acting career, and into his years as an effective advocate for black causes. If Freeman explores Brown's ugly side--domestic abuse, womanizing, his penchant for intimidation off the field--he counters by showing the man's positive side, including his immeasurable contributions to the black community. Alan Moores
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It was so bad I went through it in a short evening.
Brown is a very interesting personality - champion player, movie star, abuser of women, civil rights activist - it is all there.
I just finished reading this book and although it slowed at times it was worth the read.
T. Thurston

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. Spell VINE VOICE on January 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just old enough to have seen Jim Brown in his prime I therefore read this out of respect for the football player, activist, and occasional jail occupant. The author clearly has great respect for Brown and details the steps he took to be granted interviews from this controlling, contentious man. This book is a great summation but really without any revelations. Brown was a great football player from a broken home in Georgia whose mother brings him to New York and works as a domestic to raise him. High school coaches guide him to a great Syracuse career while he experiences racism and events that will shape his life.

Brown left the NFL at the top of his game for a career in movies. The book seems to glorify the Jim Brown acting career which seems to me to be quite a stretch. Whether it compensated Brown better than staying in football is never made clear. After acting and football we are left with Jim Brown the activist and possible abuser. I applaud Brown for his long history of effective activism but am conflicted on how to balance this with the domestic violence incidents which he continually tries to explain away. This is for the reader to decide but it is apparent that the author also has this same conflict.

Overall, this is a fine book. But does it really add new ground? Not really. Does it give great insight into a unique period America? Probably, in my opinion this is the book's greatest failure. While he touches on what is happening in America during this period, particularly the support for Mohammed Ali as he objects Vietnam duty, there is no great reflection to open this historical period to the reader. Therefore I was left with a biography of maybe the greatest football player who is now an activist and who doesn't want anything written about him. There is just not enough insight or reflection to call this an exceptional book. But if you have a specific interest in knowing of Jim Brown, this book will serve that purpose.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By RBSProds TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Five REVEALING Stars!! Mike Freeman has written the penultimate biography of Jim Brown, even beyond his own autobiography, primarily because it updates later events of the complex Mr Brown's life. Covering his life and various 'careers' from his Syracuse University days to pro football with the Browns (and what many of us consider his early departure from a game he dominated like no other) to his movie career (and yes, the famous Raquel Welch love scene from the movie "100 Rifles") to his community activities to his stormy personal relationships and encounters with law enforcement, it's all here. And during it all, Mr Brown exuded confidence, bordering on or exceeding arrogance.

The lurid aspects of his private life in terms of marriage, the many women, and the problems with the law are fully exposed with no attempt to sugar coat it. But anyone who misses the fact that Jim Brown is a very intelligent man will also miss the real man behind the legends. As recounted here, I remember the photo of Brown "in handcuffs and chains" over a traffic violation where no one was injured, but until now I never knew the outcome: a jury found him not guilty in a half an hour. Brown is revealed as a man who, justifiably or not, felt he was the target of everyone from the local police up to the FBI and CIA because of his activist activities. Decades later, when his FBI file surfaced and was released to the National Archives, there was both shock and vindication of his suspicions. What an ex-FBI agent recounts about the agency and Jim Brown is even more shocking and saddening.

If you saw his appearance on CNN's "Larry King Show", you'll know it was different from Joe Namath's appearance on CBS' "60 Minutes", because Brown and King hardly mentioned football, except in passing (pardon the pun).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. Thurston on February 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading this book and although it slowed at times it was worth the read. Jim Brown probably the greatest running back to play football in any era is laid out warts and all in this bio.I believe the book reveals alot in regards to how Brown evolved into the person he is now. The social and racial prejudice he encountered early in life chiseled not only his body but personality into a hard edged, tough to get close to icon.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Geoff Pietsch on January 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Jim Brown has long fascinated me. I went to high school near Manhasset, where Brown was a great high school star, just a year or two after Brown. Somehow I managed to miss seeing him then but really began following his career when he went to Syracuse and then to the Cleveland Browns. Needless to say, our local paper on Long Island, Newsday, plus the City papers gave him lots of coverage. I was never a fan of his action movies - not so much Brown, I just don't like that type of film - but I always have admired his activisn for civil rights and in the toughest inner city neighborhoods. So I came to this biography with high hopes - and came away disappointed.

I had hoped to learn a lot about his high school years and his later athletic career and then about his courageous efforts on behalf of civil rights and gang kids. Yet, at the end, I knew very little more than what I'd already learned from general newspaper and magazine articles and from seeing Brown in T.V. interviews. On the other hand, if you want a lengthy discussion of Brown's troubles with, and bad behavior towards, women, you will like this book. I don't fault Freeman for dealing with that part of Brown's life; I do think he gives it disproportionate attention. The overwhelming majority of Brown's life has been - there is no other word for it: heroic. And that is especially true of his post-athletic life since his football prowess was in an "extracurricular" endeavor.

From my perspective, this is a 1 or 2 star book that gets a somewhat higher rating only because of the intrinsic interest of the man himself, Jim Brown.
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