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Cinderella Man: James J. Braddock, Max Baer and the Greatest Upset in Boxing History

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4.07  ·  Rating details ·  535 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
James J. Braddock, dubbed “Cinderella Man” by Damon Runyon, was a once promising light heavyweight for whom a string of losses in the ring and a broken right hand happened to coincide with the Great Crash. With one good hand, Braddock was forced to labor on the docks of Hoboken. Only his manager, Joe Gould, still believed in him, finding fights for Braddock to help feed hi ...more
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Published April 25th 2005 by Random House Audio
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Arminius
Feb 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports, nook-book
Cinderella man is a book about an underdog in boxing as well as an underdog in life trying to make something of himself in the toughest economic times of the 20th Century. It centers itself around James J. Braddock. Braddock was a very nice man who wanted to take care of his family. One of the few industries of the 1930's where one could make money was boxing. Braddock was a good boxer who at times slacked. Part of his slacking was due to the fact that he suffered from fragile hands that rarely ...more
Rachel
Jul 19, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
James Braddock was a Depression-era light heavyweight contender who after a series of losses and a broken right hand, looked all but washed up. Working sporadically as a day laborer on the New Jersey docks and having to go on county relief to get enough money to feed his family, through the loyalty of his manager Joe Gould, he managed to work his way back into the ring and eventually to a title shot against heavyweight champion Max Baer.

It's one of the better stories in sports history, yet autho
...more
Abraham Mathew
Oct 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classic. Just as good as the movie.
Tracy
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you watch the movie, this book is based on that screen play with some additional information from other sources. In one respect I was disappointed because I was hoping it was a true biography, and would have more about his childhood, And more about his life after he became heavyweight champion. Other than that it was really enjoyable read about a man who fought back from very difficult odds, and always put his family first.
Al
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: boxing aficionados and sports illustrated subscribbers
ALSO RECOMMENDED TO PEOPLE WHO WENT DRINKING AT THE PIERS IN JERSEY CITY, HOBOKEN, WEEHAWKEN, EDGEWATER AFTER THE HIGH SCHOOL DANCE AND PEOPLE THAT HAVE WALKED THE STAIRS FROM BOULEVARD EAST TO PORT IMPERIAL.

It's incredible how much the movie embellished, exaggerated, or just flat out got wrong. This book sets a lot of things straight by telling it straight and in the process, it is way more compelling than the movie. The book opens you up to a world of boxing that is different than what it is t
...more
Nathan Peterson
All my life I've loved watching sports. Everything from the history to the stats and more importantly the thrill a person gets when the unexplainable happens. When something so unlikely happens; that you stand there and say "I don't believe what I just saw." The story of James Braddock is on of those unexplainable moments.

All throughout the book I felt like I was witnessing history in the making although I wasn't there I could feel the excitement that people would have felt then and there.

I lo
...more
Scott
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After watching the movie directed by Ron Howard I decided I needed to read the book. I actually bought the book over a year ago at D.I. Anyways, I was surprised by how closely the movie followed Braddock's story. The book flowed well, was fast paced and an easy read. It really is an interesting story. I thought the author did a good job of writing this with relevant good solid information. It follows both the rise and fall of both Braddock and Baer. Braddocks story is a good one. I also learned ...more
Jason
Sep 12, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick review, fuck you Syllvester Stallone, you stole your Rocky storylines directly from James Braddock's life.

A great primer for folks who wanna learn about boxing in its heyday. Lots of "characters" and stereotypes which turn out to be true. Max Baer figures prominently in this book, but not until the middle, so the story-telling aspect of the book felt uneven. Jeremy Schaap is not afraid to latch onto old-timey sportswriter language here and there and I approve.

Reasons to read:
1. You don'
...more
Lonnie
Sep 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: boxing/human interest fans
Thoroughly researched and very interesting book about the life and times of the subject and his opponents. The movie, "Cindarella Man", was great but employed a lot of artistic license in dramatizing the final fight. Max Baer is represented more accurately here and Braddock's ups and downs are told in more detail without taking away from the real drama of the final fight. Braddock's rise, fall and rise is extrordinary as is his character as evidenced by his devotion to his family throughout his ...more
Ulrich Krieghund
Feb 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this in reverse order, that is after viewing the film. I thoroughly enjoyed the parallel journeys of both Braddock and Baer. Certainly Baer was far more clown than killer, and his litany of nicknames attest to a bright but brief shining star. Braddock's rise from being down and out is nestled within the context and travails of the Great Depression.

Interestingly enough, since Braddock won the belt but didn't even successfully defend it even a single time, other heavyweights such as Buster
...more
Stacy
Mar 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful read, if you are a fan of boxing. Jeremy Shaap writes a wonderful rendering of the boxing career of Jame. J. Braddock.
The story spends much time reviewing other boxers, along the way as well... Such as Jack Dempsey and Braddock's amazing fight with Max Baer. The book also gives some insight into Max Baer. This caused me to want to cheer Baer on, as well, while reading.

I am glad to have read this book (in two days), as I have been waiting to read before watching the movie.

For sport
...more
Brendan Babish
Mar 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
Really good book that depicts not just the man, but also the era and the sport extremely well. In addition to being a cracking good story, Braddock's ascendency to the title was very moving. However, one interesting wrinkle: though the book crescendos with Braddock's defeat of Max Baer, I found his defeat to Joe Louis more inspiring. Louis was a far superior fighter, yet Braddock allowed himself to be pummeled for eight rounds rather than just take a dive in the second or third round, which is w ...more
Charles Isom
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating book. While the main focus of the story is the now-famous fight between Braddock and Baer, I was truly impressed with how much background material was included about the other figures of the time. My only complaint is how quickly the book ended after the big fight, with only a few pages to wrap up the lives of the main characters. I suppose that is a testament to how good the book was.
Lilian
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Amazing story of tenacity and perseverance. Initially, I didn't understand why there were entire chapters devoted to Max Baer when this is supposedly James J. Braddock's story. Afterwards, I understood it served as a comparison between the two boxers. They both had the qualities of being memorable athletes, but their stories were vastly different. If you thought the movie was good, obviously because the original source material was amazing, well-researched and well-written.
Bill Bennett
Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what can I say! One of the rare books that you're upset when it ends. This is not just for sports fans. It gives a wonderful look into the depression era and into the life of a man who refused to be beaten by the economics of the times. Irregardless of how you feel about the brutality of "the sweet science" most of us would hope that children grew up to be just a little bit like James J. Braddock.
Jacob Sabin
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best biographies I have ever read. Focuses mainly on James the Bull Dog of Bergen Braddock, it also covers the career of Max bear, whom Braddock would win the title from. The life and career of Braddock is truly inspirational and this biography does an amazing job at telling the story. I literally read the book in a day. Highly recommend it to any sport fan or any person who likes stories of those who are counted out in life making it to the very top.
Paula
Aug 28, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me first say I am not a boxing fan, but in the early 20th century it was a big deal in America so I thought Id check it out. I enjoyed having some context, what was happening in America at the time and knowing the story of these famous fighters Braddock, Baer, Dempsey, etc. It was a worthwhile read if you are interested.
Nathan
To his detriment, Schaap refuses to take the reader inside the ring, preferring instead to show us the pugnaciousness of his subject, and his fight scenes, though evocative, become repetitive. Yet, somehow, the book grows on you; for what it is - a straightforward story of a blue-collar prizefighter - it works decently well.
Ted
Feb 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports, society
I'm not really a big boxing fan, but a friend raved about and loaned this book to me. It was a real page-turner - great book about Braddock and Baer, but also about Depression times, the New York/New Jersey locale, and the fight scene in the heyday of American boxing. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in any of those things.
Sean
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw a clip of the movie and decided to read the book. I can't compare it to the movie, obviously though I'm sure I'll get around to seeing the movie eventually, but the book was really good. I love a good story and that's exactly what this book is. If you're into boxing or just a sports fan in general I have no doubt you'd like this book as well.
Alshia Moyez
Sep 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
I loved this, I mean "really" loved this book. The writing itself was kind of jarring. Aybe you'll see why once you start this book. You have to get used to the uncomplicated prose. Actually, it just reads like a boxer sat down and wrote it, but it's still one of my favorites! If you like drama, sports, and historical, you might really like this.
Ben
Jan 23, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars.

It's well-researched, but sometimes I felt like I could have skipped over some parts and not missed anything.
Still, it was very interesting to see the difference between Braddock and Baer and what it took to get to the pinnacle of boxing.

James Braddock's life is one heck of a story.
Garth
Jul 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With the current economic situation, I've enjoyed reading about the 1930's depression and dust bowl, but this book is more. It's a story about three contrasting personalities: Braddock, Baer and Braddock's manager. Enjoyed the movie and the book equally.
Shaun
Apr 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, but it wasn't my favorite. I do plan to watch the movie Cinderella Man, which is based on this book. This was written by the same author as the biography of Jesse Owens. It was a good story, but just not compelling in my opinion. I give a mile recommendation for this book.
Michael
Jan 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd already seen the movie, so I knew the basic story. But since I'm currently heavily interested in boxing, I decided I'd read the book too. I really enjoyed it. Schaap does a great job keeping the narrative moving. This is a fantastic story, and Schaap tells it well.
Andy Tischaefer
Not a book that I thought I would be interested in, but I picked it up cheap and gave it a try. A nice read, full of details about boxing in the early 20th century, the lives of Braddock and Baer, and what it meant to be a champion boxer at that time. Recommended.
Doc Mcgarey
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


Terrific period piece of Depression era 1930s New York. Braddocks story is one that brings to life the real struggles of the times. He is a fighter in every sense of the word. I like this red for young athletes and their parents on what it takes to succeed.
Lisa
Sep 01, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, audiobook
I saw the movie several years ago and thought the story was compelling.
Recently I happened across the audiobook at the library, but somehow the life and excitement have been sucked out of it.
I did not finish this audiobook because there are plenty more good ones waiting for me!
Shauna
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. I loved the intricate detail it went into with each of the fighters history. I really enjoyed the writing style. And of course, a heart-warming story about how an underdog who loved his family, overcame all odds.
Lenny
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Boxers fighting during the Depression. They either fought or they starved.Excellent true life biographies.
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From wikipedia article on author Jeremy Schaap (b. August 23, 1969, New York City) is an American sportswriter, television reporter, and author. Schaap is a six-time Emmy award winner for his work on ESPN's E:60, SportsCenter and Outside the Lines.
He is a regular contributor to Nightline and ABC World News Tonight and has been published in Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine, Time, Parade, The W
...more
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