Vince Ciaramella's Reviews > Black Man vs. the World: Jack Johnson's Trials, Tribulations, and Triumphs

Black Man vs. the World by Adam J. Pollack
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it was amazing

Epic is scope, researched down to the atom, and entertaining beyond belief, Black Man VS the World is the newest tome on one of boxing’s most interesting and controversial figures, Jack Johnson. Adam J. Pollock’s account of the first African-American heavyweight champion leaves no stone unturned when bringing Johnson back to life a century later. Details not found in any other books are at your fingertips. How the author found all this information is beyond me. Let me drop the adjectives and strip down the review to the bare bones.
What I like about this book is that it not only does a great job at detailing and chronicling the career of Johnson, but the author doesn’t skimp on the scenery. You really get an idea of what the times were like when Johnson walked the Earth. Sadly, it was a time of racism at its height. But one needs to know that because it wasn’t just the weights and the sparing that forged Johnson into the man he was. It was the times that strengthened his mind and soul. Johnson simply did his own thing. The pushback from society only fueled him more and more.
What I love about Jack is his willingness to smile and pulverize. You’ll know what I mean once you finish this book. I don’t know if I could have walked through life with a grin on my face while the world wanted to kill me just because I was born with a different skin color. While he fought many opponents in the ring, the specter of racism was always around the corner looking to K.O the champ. It was an opponent not even Johnson could send down for the ten count.
Adam J. Pollack does his subject a great service by letting Jack speak for himself and not inferring what Johnson was thinking or doing. That is one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to historical biographies. As I stated earlier, Pollack digs deep to find facts and details that I have never read in previous bios of Jack Johnson. This is a piece of old-world craftsmanship in a world flooded with throwaway works of “scholarship”.
The only drawback this book might have is its size. That might scare some because it’s a commitment. I would say that for someone who just wants a Readers Digest backstory of the first black heavyweight champion, this book might not be for you. If you want a book that will detail all that is Johnson down to the subatomic particles, this is it! At this point there is really no reason to do another Johnson bio as Adam J. Pollack has written the definitive account on the subject. I cannot recommend this enough to anyone into boxing, race relations, or just general early twentieth century history .

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Reading Progress

January 1, 2019 – Started Reading
March 28, 2019 – Shelved
March 28, 2019 – Finished Reading

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