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Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink by [Margolick, David]
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4.3 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fought with thunderclouds of war on the horizon, the 1938 heavyweight rematch between Detroit's Joe Louis and Germany's Max Schmeling qualifies as the sort of sporting event that coalesces into a symbolic moment with much larger themes. The African-American Louis's success and demeanor were an unsubtle rebuke to the Aryan theories of race; the affable Schmeling, for his part, would be shoehorned into the role of "Nazi Max," despite the uneasiness of the fit—later that year, on Kristallnacht, he would courageously protect two German Jews. Vanity Fair contributor Margolick (Strange Fruit) keeps his bold, colorful focus squarely on the hubbub leading up to the bout; the all-consuming welter of hype—almost every utterance in the book is tinged by race or geopolitics—makes for compelling reading. The fight pitted talent against tactics: Schmeling's previous defeat of the hitherto "unbeatable" Louis depended on Schmeling's shrewd perception of a flaw in Louis's technique. Louis was a critical transitional figure between the controversial first African-American champ, Jack Johnson, and the equally polarizing Muhammad Ali. Schmeling, in turn, was truly the antithesis of the thugs who were running his country. Every chapter in the company of such estimable and likable stalwarts is an unalloyed pleasure. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In 1938, radio announcer Clem McCarthy called the rematch between German Max Schmeling and American Joe Louis "the greatest fight of our generation." The greatest fight, as it turned out, was still to come and would be contested outside the boxing ring. This new book examines a world near war and grapple with the lasting importance of Louis versus Schmeling. Margolick provides a roaring ride through Nazi Germany and Depression-era America, as seen in the lives of Louis and Schmeling. Written with all the verve and wit of the best 1930s sportswriters (whom Margolis often quotes to great effect), Beyond Glory contains gripping accounts of Louis and Schmeling's two fights with each other and their bouts with other top contenders. But the greatest strength of Margolick's narrative is the larger history it supplies. For two boxers who claimed no interest in politics, Schmeling and Louis got caught up in one of the great political conflicts of the century. Margolick magnificently captures the tension--between white and black, American and German, Jew and Gentile, Fascist and Democrat--that defined the time. Readers emerge with nuanced characterizations of the fighters and the nations they represented. With its balance of popular history and riveting comeback story, Beyond Glory will be the definitive account of Louis versus Schmeling. And it's a hell of a good read besides. John Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 3144 KB
  • Print Length: 423 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (January 18, 2010)
  • Publication Date: February 17, 2010
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0034N7JKE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #941,669 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I write this review as a 50 year old baby boomer, who as a child lived in the South through the civil rights struggles of the 60s, having parents from New York City, having a father who trod across Europe in W.W.II, and having family lost and damaged by Nazi terror. Despite that, and despite knowing so much of that history, the doors to the past opened by David Margolick's Beyond Glory were wonderfully and surprisingly illuminating.

Margolick does this by not just retelling the wonderful story of these classic boxing matches, but by presenting much of the story through the words of the journalists of the day. In doing so, the book carefully chronicles the paths to and from these historic fights, and in doing so, not only tells the tale of wonderful boxing characters, but exposes both the pervasiveness of racism in America, and the astonishing face of anti-Semitism and racism that was the Third Reich. Even though it is recent history, which we think we know well, it is still surprising to see and understand the clarity and depth of these issues as reported in Beyond Glory, in part through the eyes and words of an earlier generation of newspaper reporters. (As newspapers today shrink and consolidate, the creativity and glory of those reporters is especially interesting.)

The magic of what Margolick has done is to present the history of the Louis-Schmeling fights by weaving the words of the journalists of the day, reporters long silent, who wrote in the style of the day--and with the prejudices of the day. Margolick does not spare us the ugly side of either American racism, or German repression.
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Format: Hardcover
Like Geoffrey Ward's account of the life of boxer Jack Johnson (in "Unforgivable Blackness" --2004) which was a cultural snapshot of racism and culture in the first third of the 20th century, Mr Margolick has written a boxing companion for the middle third of the 20th century. His tale of the bouts between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling in the 1930's offers another snapshot of racism and culture in American and Germany.

Max Schmeling was the Aryan champion for Hilter who had been humilated in his master race rantings by the four gold medals of Jesse Owens in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Though never a Nazi, Mr. Schmeling was part of the German propaganda machine with his 12th round knockout of Mr. Louis in 1936. Since their rematch was so anti-climatic in 1938 (Mr. Louis utterly dominated Mr. Schmeling in a first round TKO), Mr Margolick focuses on the politics of boxing, of America, and of Nazi Germany by contrasting their two very different careers and post-boxing lives. This will be considered the definitive story of their bouts and an excellent introduction to their lives.
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Format: Hardcover
I read more than 30 books a year and nominate "Beyond Glory" for my Book of the Year for 2005. David Margolick has produced a wonderfully engaging portrait of a bygone era: a time when heavyweight prizefighting was a BIG social and cultural event (Quick: Who's the world heavyweight champion today? Times have indeed changed.), racial inequality pervaded American society, and the world inched inexorably toward a reckoning with Fascist totalitarianism.

Louis and Schmeling fought two epic bouts. Margolick captures the intensity of these clashes with the magisterial skill of an accomplished storyteller. He brilliantly recounts Louis's powerful rise through the heavyweight ranks, and the increasing intersection of Schmeling's career with Nazi "master-race" agitprop. Schmeling's Jewish manager was barred from representing him in Germany, but still had no qualms about publicly saluting Hitler after one of his fighter's victories.

One of the treasures of this book is Margolick's frequent reference to contemporary newspaper accounts of the period. The 1930s were the halcyon days of American sports-writing and Margolick's liberal quotations from legendary writers like Grantland Rice, Damon Runyon and many lesser-known scribes enriches his storyline. The flourishing African-American press of the era also provides excellent source material, which Margolick incorporates deftly into his captivating narrative.

"Beyond Glory" is as much a social history as it is a fight chronicle. You don't have to be a fight fan (I'm not particularly) to reap considerable enjoyment from this fantastic book.
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Format: Hardcover
In Beyong Glory, his latest book, David Margolick has written an enthralling book about two boxers that captures not only the heart-stopping drama of the Louis-Schmeling fights but also American and German life in the 1930s. If you don't think that you care anything about boxing or even sports, this book will change your mind. I judge a great biography by not how well the central figures are presented but by how well the secondary personalities are realized. In Beyond Glory, Margolick surrounds Louis and Schmeling with flesh-and-blood characters. Nazi hacks, Runyonesque boxing sorts, famous wives--they make the Beyond Glory live. If you want to understand America in the 1930s, comprehening why Louis and Schmeling mattered would be a fine place to begin your study
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