Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Buy Used
$4.24
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

A Flame of Pure Fire: Jack Dempsey and the Roaring '20s Hardcover – October 5, 1999

4.1 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

See all 12 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$8.99 $0.01

Best Books of the Month
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Jack Dempsey (1895-1983) launched the age of big-money, high-visibility boxing with his 1919 defeat of heavyweight champion Jess Willard. Then when Gene Tunney beat Dempsey in 1927, assisted by a referee's controversial "long count," it foreshadowed the end of an era. With his good looks, free-and-easy ways, and roughneck background--including an ex-wife who was a prostitute before and after their marriage--Dempsey was the perfect hero for the brawling, cynical 1920s. Even his sensational trial in 1920 on charges of draft evasion and "white slavery" (he was acquitted) suited the decade's appetite for lurid tabloid stories. Roger Kahn, who met the fighter in the mid-1950s, takes an idiosyncratic approach to biography. He begins with a 1960 encounter in Dempsey's restaurant, moves back to the fighter's hard-knocks apprenticeship, covers Dempsey's childhood after an account of the 1920 trial, and intersperses snapshots of the American scene with recollections and reflections from the champ throughout. This technique pays off. Readers get a vivid sense of the period and of Dempsey as its hard-living but honorable exemplar, and they come to share Kahn's affection and respect for the thoughtful, generous man he became in later years. Squeamish readers, be warned: along with the cultural history, there's lots of boxing action, graphically described. --Wendy Smith

From Publishers Weekly

"He was the wild and raucous champion of the wild and raucous 1920s," writes Kahn (The Boys of Summer, etc.) of the legendary heavyweight William Harrison "Jack" Dempsey. This "hobo, roughneck, brawler, fighter, slacker, lover, millionaire, gentleman" provides Kahn a vehicle for chronicling the jazz age itself. Dempsey emerged out of the still-wild West, having fought in mining towns throughout Utah and Colorado, lean and hungry for success as his country stood on the precipice of unprecedented wealth and power. His transformation from rural tough, the "Manassa Mauler," into the preeminent athlete in the world marked the arrival of sport as big business in a prosperous new America. When he won the heavyweight championship in 1919, Dempsey did it in front of 20,000 people. Less than eight years later, he drew a crowd of 120,000 for his first bout with Gene Tunney (which he lost), still the largest ever in boxing, and made a fortune. In graceful and fluid prose, Kahn presents the con men, gangsters, prostitutes and starlets who inhabited the turbulent, Prohibition-era story of Jack Dempsey. The larger-than-life storytellers of the ageAlegendary sportswriters like Grantland Rice, Ring Lardner and Damon RunyonAfeature prominently. Kahn delivers a performance of which any of those whiskey-swilling, rakish scribes would have been proud. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; First Edition edition (October 5, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151002967
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151002962
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #532,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have to admit that I am a special fan of Roger Kahn's writings, especially his books on baseball. I don't claim to be a boxing fan, but, as the author said, more than enough has been written on Babe Ruth and not enough on Jack Dempsey. Kahn gives descriptive accounts on Dempsey's bouts with Jess Willard, Georges Carpentier, Gene Tunney, Luis Firpo, and others. The 1920's has often been called The Golden Age of Sports and the author enlightens the reader with happenings from the political and social world of the '20's as well. The great sports writers of the period such as Haywood Hale Broun, Paul Gallico, Grantland Rice, Ring Lardner, and William O. McGeehan are all here as well. In reviewing the Demspey/Tunney fight in Chicago it is interesting to note that Kahn says, "I am looking at a crooked referee." You do not have to be a boxing fan to enjoy the book. I am not. If, however, you enjoy American history the decade of the Roaring Twenties provided us with a cast of characters that Roger Kahn will bring back to life for you. What are you waiting for? Give yourself a treat.
Comment 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Roger Kahn has done it again! In this mesmerizing biography of Jack Dempsey, Kahn has brought back to vivid life a time in America's history that my parents and grandparents used to talk of with such fondness. I was hooked from beginning to end. This book is a must-read for not only people interested in the life of Jack Dempsey, but for anyone who longs to experience another time and place as can only be conjured up by a magical author. Surely as spellbinding as anything Kahn has written and easily the most enjoyable read I've had in a long time.  
Comment 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
For almost anyone the name Jack Dempsey is synonymous with "Champ." Born in 1895, William Harrison Dempsey came to fame in the turbulent, jingoistic, bigoted aptly named "roaring '20's." His is an authentic rags to riches saga of a young man who at 11 years of age decided he would be the heavyweight boxing champion of the world. He devoted himself full time to his chosen profession, assuming the name "Jack" from a past boxing champion that died young. Immensely strong, he worked hard at anything he did. He knew poverty, saying, "I was often a hobo, but never a bum." He literally battled his way to the top, knowing personal grief along the way, being cheated by unscrupulous managers, loving many women, marrying disasterously twice, becoming the most famous man in the world, and losing the championship in what was probably a rigged fight by the time he was 32. He maintained his dignity throughout and was as his epitaph stated, "a gentleman and a gentle man." Roger Kahn does a wonderful job of capturing Dempsey and his times. The book is not so much a biography as a history of an era, full of fascinating information. The actual fights Dempsey had play only a small part of the book, but are well presented. Kahn actually knew the champ and his respect for the man and his life show through in this very readable and worthwhile book. It deserves a wide audience. Jack Dempsey lost his championship to Gene Tunney in 1927, but he lost it with guts. His personal credo was always to fight hard, never alibi, and never whine. Not bad rules for today.
Comment 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
If you like sports, boxing, or history, you must read this book. If you're fascinated by the world of celebrities, read this book. Roger Kahn has put together an engaging, fast-moving biography that often reads more like a novel. His portrayal of the many colorful characters populating the boxing scene at the time is incisive and humorous. The boxing scenes are engrossing and, not knowing much about Dempsey's career, I was as enthralled and eager for the outcome as if the matches were happening today. More than the boxing, I learned that Jack Dempsey was even more of a champ outside the ring than inside it. He handled himself with class and dignity, and conducted his affairs with honesty and integrity. He also remained humble and generous throughout his life. Not what you'd expect from the most ferocious boxer in history. At his peak in the ring Dempsey was unmatched; as a celebrity he was second to none, even years after he retired. As a magnet for attention and the ability to fill an arena, Dempsey was easily the equal of modern-day stars such as Michael Jordan--if not superior. Roger Kahn brings it all to life, vividly, and for me this is an unforgettable book about an unforgettable man. Here's to the Champ!
Comment 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
This is a fine biography of heavyweight champ Jack Dempsey, concentrating on his years in the ring during the 1920s. Kahn is especially compelling in his super-detailed accounts of the major bouts fought by Dempsey against Jess Willard, Georges Carpentier, Luis Firpo, and the two Gene Tunney matches that ended his fighting career. He makes no bones about how much he respects and admires his subject - "the candor, the quiet pride, the kindness, the wit, the fists like boulders" - and in his writing he's able to convince the reader to share his opinions.

Dempsey grew up in harsh poverty among the mining camps of Utah, Nevada, and the rest of the inter-mountain West, often fighting town toughs for $5 a pop. He never forgot what that was like and although winning and forwarding his career meant never having to return to that existence, he felt a closeness to people who had to struggle to survive. He made some poor choices during his career and life - corrupt management, the wrong women, unfortunate Hollywood connections - but also had to endure public malignancy: he was called a "slacker" after WW I for not fighting in the war and he went through an ugly, highly public divorce. In the ring he was a "killing machine," but outside it he displayed a sensitive nature. All this Kahn reveals marvelously.

Less marvelous is his insistence on placing Dempsey's life during the `20s within the framework of the times. Thus we get a surface-like overview of the corrupt President Harding, prohibition, Al Capone, Lindbergh, the movies, and scores of other pretty well-known or irrelevant events - all there to add "color" but not much substance. Less emphasis on some of this would have reduced the 450-page length of the book without diminishing its worth.
Read more ›
Comment 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews


Pages with Related Products. See and discover other items: biography books