Jim Brown: A Hero's Life

Jim Brown: A Hero's Life

3.6 8
by Mike Freeman
     
 

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He intimidated people on and off the football field. He was brutal yet brilliant, narcissistic yet magnanimous, relentless yet unyielding. Most of all, he was the greatest football player of all time. He was Jim Brown.

Jim Brown was an astonishing physical specimen with tremendous skills and intelligence. An athlete who played a number of sports at Syracuse

Overview

He intimidated people on and off the football field. He was brutal yet brilliant, narcissistic yet magnanimous, relentless yet unyielding. Most of all, he was the greatest football player of all time. He was Jim Brown.

Jim Brown was an astonishing physical specimen with tremendous skills and intelligence. An athlete who played a number of sports at Syracuse University, he ultimately discovered that it was the violence of football that appealed to him most. The idea of physically dominating other men, surviving ferocious battles on the field against opponents who would just as soon call him a nigger as try to gouge out his eyes fueled an astonishing, record-making NFL career that led to the Hall of Fame. He battled his defenses, sometimes his teammates, and often the Cleveland Browns' legendary head coach Paul Brown.

But Jim Brown had ambitions greater than football. He used his athletic brilliance to launch a movie career, becoming Hollywood's first black action hero, culminating in a scandalous love scene with America's sweetheart Raquel Welch. He leveraged his popularity into helping the NFL's black players and becoming a civil rights activist. Never shy about expressing his opinions, Brown would become the subject of FBI investigations and surveillance throughout parts of his life.

Then there were the women. The patient wife who was essentially a single mother and who endured public humiliation. The girlfriends he ran through and the scandalous accusations of violence made by some of them.

A complex and fascinating story, Jim Brown is a towering biography of a living legend.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061745942
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
366,633
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Mike Freeman is an NFL Insider for CBSSports.com. Before that, he was an NFL writer, investigative reporter, and columnist for the New York Times; a columnist for the Florida Times-Union; and a sports reporter, features writer, and investigative writer for the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Dallas Morning News. He lives in New Jersey.

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Jim Brown: The Fierce Life of an American Hero 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
speed-learn More than 1 year ago
I'll start by stating a bias that few sports superstars lead lives worthy of a biography. Jim Brown is an exception. However, be warned that this book is more a bio of Jim Brown the man than a sports biography. Much of the book covers Brown¿s childhood, the years of his professional & collegiate football career and his College HOF lacrosse career. However, the book only intermittently chronicles Jim Brown¿s extraordinary on-field accomplishments. He led the NFL in rushing 8 of his 9 seasons, retiring with most single season $ career rushing records. However, don¿t expect much sentimentality or gridiron reminiscences. The book covers the many other facets of Jim Brown¿s life - his civil rights activism, his work to help inner city youth/gang members, his acting career, his legal troubles related to physically abusing women & his time in prison.

The book is a balanced portrait of Brown presenting good & bad, professional & personal. The author sees Brown as a hero not for his on-field accomplishments where he excelled due to a dominating combination of power, size & speed. He often outweighed anyone on defense & was always one of the fastest men on the field. Instead, Freeman finds Jim Brown to be a hero for boldly, consistently confronting racism & because he sought to live a life of purpose by helping others after his football career ended. Brown¿s activism is something that athletes with significant clout such as Michael Jordan & Tiger Woods could easily do. Brown believes that if modern athletes pooled only a fraction of their wealth & influence they could change the fortunes of thousands of young poor people. Brown¿s activism started early. He paved the way for integrating the football program at Syracuse in the 1950s which helped Ernie Davis who followed him in the Syracuse backfield to become the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. Jim Brown helped recruit Davis to Syracuse. He respected Davis because he ¿transcended racism¿ as Davis was liked by both blacks & whites. Brown not only proactively addressed racism but since retirement from Football has put his money to work to improve the financial conditions of African Americans. Freeman discusses a paradox of Jim Brown who stridently fought racial oppression, but who displayed a lack of respect for & physically abused women.

Freeman notes that athletes commonly experience the situation where the traits which helped them succeed on the field often lead to their downfall off the field (O.J. Simpson & Pete Rose as notable examples). The author believes Brown benefited & suffers from supreme arrogance, violent anger, & an intensely strong will to dominate. As one legal prosecutor stated it, Jim Brown could abide by football rules but needed to equally abide by the rules of society.

An unexpected highlight of the book is an 11-page mini biography of Coach Paul Brown. Before there was Vince Lombardi or Bill Walsh or Bill Belichick there was the football innovator Paul Brown. Evidence of Coach Paul Brown¿s greatness is that his teams played for the league championship in each of Coach Brown¿s first 6 years in the NFL.

The book serves more as an introduction to Jim Brown than a sentimental recollection of his career or an insightful analysis of his life. Jim Brown accomplished much based on where he started & the racism he faced, but in the end his legacy is diminished by char
Guest More than 1 year ago
While the author claims to show both sides of Jim Brown, he doesn't. He clearly glosses over the negative aspects of his life. There is very little about his football career in this book, and the true story of his life still needs to be written. He is a fascinating icon, but he is more flawed than the author lets on. All you need to know is that he gives praise to Jim's acting career. We all know he was a great player, but his acting was truly bad. Disappointing in every way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jbdunlap14 More than 1 year ago
For better or worse, Jim Brown has been relevant to this world. Not only is he the greatest NFL running back in history, but you learn he is probably the greatest lax player ever, and also played basketball at Syracuse University. That may not surprise people, but will surprise people of my generation or later, those born in the 1970's onward is that Brown was a ground breaking actor, his views on race are not the "standard" civil rights era beliefs, and that he, and helped bring soem peace to gang ridden L.A. Very worth the price.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As someone who has followed Jim Brown's career I looked forward to reading this book. It did not disappoint. What I liked the most was how the writer presented a great deal of facts and made Brown's complicated life flow very easily from page to page.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lots of fluff here. Very short on documentation. Many errors throughout the book. Court records not validated.Story was loosely put together with no flow. Disappointing to say the least.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought I knew a lot about Jim Brown until I purchased this book. I'm a huge fan of Brown's career and this work is the centerpiece of my Brown collection. A job well done.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was one of the better sports biographies I have ever read. It's extremely thorough and covers every aspect of Brown's life. I particularly enjoyed some of the really interesting stories about Brown's days in Cleveland.