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Titanic Thompson: The Man Who Bet on Everything Paperback – November 14, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Cook (Tommy's Honor), a former Sports Illustrated editor, introduces his portrait of the larger-than-life "Titanic" Thompson (1892–1974) as a self-made man from the Ozarks who loved games of chance and had a knack for winning incredible sums of money. In a lyrical account of the gambling legend who inspired Damon Runyon's character Sky Masterson (Guys and Dolls), Cook describes Thompson as a "rogue wind that lifted girls' skirts and turned gamblers' pockets inside out." Thompson possessed the steel nerves of a card shark, the bravado of an outlaw, and the staying power of a satyr, preferring his girls young and pretty. Rumor has it that he drove a swank Pierce-Arrow (driving from town to town to ply his hustling trade), carried a gun (he reportedly killed five men) and a suitcase full of cash, and rubbed elbows with Houdini, Capone, and gamblers Arnold "the Brain" Rothstein and Nick the Greek. Thompson excelled at golf before PGA Tours began, competing with professional golfers Ben Hogan and Sam Snead. Cook's raucous narrative introduces readers to an eccentric, fascinating personality. 20 illus. (Nov.) (c)
Copyright © PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
In one respect, this biography of a gambler intersects with Cook’s previous title, Tommy’s Honor (2007): it involves beaucoup de golf. For the Thompson in question—whose real name was Alvin Thomas—was skillful enough to set up country-club hustles with such future icons as then-unknowns Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson. However, Titanic’s interest was not in the sport but in the spread, and as late as his 70s (in the 1960s), Thompson was booking wagers on a match he arranged between kids named Lee Trevino and Raymond Floyd. By then, Thompson may have aged, but his wives never did: five times married, Titanic affianced each one in her teens, winning dames over with his charm, looks, bankroll, and dangerous, predatory lifestyle. Cook has Thompson killing at least five men. Fascinated by how Thompson, a clever conniver who Cook recounts as cheating at poker, dice, checkers, billiards, horses, and, naturally, golf, was never plugged himself, readers will revel in every rambunctious page about an outlaw spirit who lurked on the frontiers of society, sports, and fair play. --Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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I recommend this book to all who enjoy a good story about little known people that lived larger than life. Few readers will not enjoy the time spread on this book.