The Fight of the Century: Jack Johnson, Joe Louis and the Struggle for Racial Equality / Edition 1

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This book examines the history of race relations in the United States in the first half of the twentieth century through the lives and times of two leading African-American sports figures, the boxers Jack Johnson and Joe Louis. The author explores how the public careers and private lives of the first two African American heavyweight boxing champions both define and explain vital issues in U.S. history. He incorporates extensive research into the black press of the time. And he organizes the major events - the John Jeffries "fight of the century" in 1910, the Mann Act trial, Louis's two bouts with Max Schmeling in the 1930s, Louis's enlistment in the Army in 1942 - around the principle themes of the book: the persistence of prejudice and segregation from the early 1900s to the late 1940s; the two boxers' symbolic significance to black Americans; and the hopes that their success in the ring inspired.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Among the most prominent African Americans between the end of the first Reconstruction and the beginning of the second," heavyweight champions Jack Johnson and Joe Louis embodied the hopes of black America. Through their stories, historian Thomas R. Hietala explores race relations in his scholarly but accessible history, The Fight of the Century: Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, and the Struggle for Equality. He traces the extraordinary symbolic meaning their victories had for both black and white spectators and media, and the historical backdrop against which their respective victories took place, from the rash of exceptionally brutal lynchings of the 1910s and Woodrow Wilson's frankly anti-integration policies, to the evolution of the urban ghetto and the persistence of Jim Crow in the 1930s and 1940s.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765607225
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 7/31/2002
  • Series: Social and Cultural History Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: "Many Thousand Gone" 3
1. "A Retribution Seeks": White Repression and Black Redemption 13
2. "A Tempest of Dispraise": From Black Hope to Black Burden 48
3. "Under the White Man's Menace": Divisive Wars at Home and Abroad 87
4. "Outcasts Asylumed": Exile's Return and Legacy 129
5. "Don't You Fall Now": A New Race Ambassador Emerges 148
6. "No Other Dream, No Land But This": Black Americans and the Enemy Within 191
7. "Another World Be Born": In Search of Victory at Home and Abroad 243
8. "The Harder They Fall": A Champion's Life and Legend 295
Epilogue 323
Notes 331
Index 365
About the Author 377
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