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Unforgivable Blackness
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About the Author

Geoffrey C. Ward won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1989. With Ken Burns, he is coauthor of The Civil War and Jazz. He lives in New York City. From the Hardcover edition.

Reviews

Never heard of Jack Johnson? Profiled here by award-winning biographer Ward (A First-Class Temperament), he was the first African American boxer to win the heavyweight championship-in Sydney, Australia, in 1908-and a powerful temperament who ignored the color line. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"Unforgivable Blackness is likely to be the definitive biography of Jack Johnson . . . A significant achievement. Geoffrey Ward provides an utterly convincing and frequently heartrending portrait of Jack Johnson." --Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books "A formidable accomplishment . . . Ward has successfully brought this deep and colorful personality, this insufficiently understood and altogether amazing man, back to life." --David Margolick, The New York Times Book Review "Brings [Johnson] to life in all his vulgar, splendid glory. Engrossing and definitive, Unforgivable Blackness is a great biography of a great and utterly fascinating subject." --Allen Barra, The Philadelphia Inquirer "An engaging and well-researched popular biography . . . Throughout the book, Johnson's energy never flags, and neither does our interest. [Ward] has drawn a portrait of a fascinating figure, whose oversized personality fills every page." --Bruce Schoenfeld, Washington Post Book World "This remarkable book is at one and the same time a rousing story, a terrific biography, and first-rate history. With immense skill, Geoffrey Ward has not only brought Jack Johnson back to life but has provided a telling window onto what it was like to be a great black athlete in early-twentieth-century America." --Doris Kearns Goodwin "Geoffrey Ward's Unforgivable Blackness is a stunning exploration in the unbelievable bigotry of whites in early-twentieth-century America." --David Levering Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the two-volume biography of W. E. B. Du Bois From the Hardcover edition. ""Unforgivable Blackness" is likely to be the definitive biography of Jack Johnson . . . A significant achievement. Geoffrey Ward provides an utterly convincing and frequently heartrending portrait of Jack Johnson." --Joyce Carol Oates, "The New York Review of Books" "A formidable accomplishment . . . Ward has successfully brought this deep and colorful personality, this insufficiently understood and altogether amazing man, back to life." --David Margolick, "The New York Times Book Review" "Brings [Johnson] to life in all his vulgar, splendid glory. Engrossing and definitive, Unforgivable Blackness is a great biography of a great and utterly fascinating subject." --Allen Barra, The Philadelphia Inquirer "An engaging and well-researched popular biography . . . Throughout the book, Johnson's energy never flags, and neither does our interest. [Ward] has drawn a portrait of a fascinating figure, whose oversized personality fills every page." --Bruce Schoenfeld, Washington Post Book World This remarkable book is at one and the same time a rousing story, a terrific biography, and first-rate history. With immense skill, Geoffrey Ward has not only brought Jack Johnson back to life but has provided a telling window onto what it was like to be a great black athlete in early-twentieth-century America. Doris Kearns Goodwin Geoffrey Ward s "Unforgivable Blackness" is a stunning exploration in the unbelievable bigotry of whitesin early-twentieth-century America. David Levering Lewis, Pulitzer Prize winning author of the two-volume biography of W. E. B. Du Bois "From the Hardcover edition."" ""Unforgivable Blackness is likely to be the definitive biography of Jack Johnson . . . A significant achievement. Geoffrey Ward provides an utterly convincing and frequently heartrending portrait of Jack Johnson." --Joyce Carol Oates, "The New York Review of Books "A formidable accomplishment . . . Ward has successfully brought this deep and colorful personality, this insufficiently understood and altogether amazing man, back to life." --David Margolick, "The New York Times Book Review "Brings [Johnson] to life in all his vulgar, splendid glory. Engrossing and definitive, Unforgivable Blackness is a great biography of a great and utterly fascinating subject." --Allen Barra, The Philadelphia Inquirer "An engaging and well-researched popular biography . . . Throughout the book, Johnson's energy never flags, and neither does our interest. [Ward] has drawn a portrait of a fascinating figure, whose oversized personality fills every page." --Bruce Schoenfeld, Washington Post Book World "This remarkable book is at one and the same time a rousing story, a terrific biography, and first-rate history. With immense skill, Geoffrey Ward has not only brought Jack Johnson back to life but has provided a telling window onto what it was like to be a great black athlete in early-twentieth-century America." --Doris Kearns Goodwin "Geoffrey Ward's "Unforgivable Blackness is a stunning exploration in the unbelievable bigotry of whites in early-twentieth-century America." --David Levering Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the two-volume biography of W. E. B. Du Bois "From the Hardcover edition.

Johnson (1878-1946), boxing's first black heavyweight champion, was a lightning rod for controversy in early 20th-century America. Even many of his fellow African-Americans resented his unapologetic dominance of the ring and steady succession of white girlfriends and wives, viewing his behavior as a setback to race relations. Ward (A First-Class Temperament) depicts the fear and resentment Johnson spurred in white Americans in voluminous detail that may startle modern readers in its frankness. Contemporary journalists regularly referred to Johnson as a "nigger" and openly advocated his pummeling at white hands, though ample quotations from supporters in the Negro press balance the perspective. Ward first documents the obstacles the boxing world threw in Johnson's path (including prolonged refusals by top white boxers to fight against him), and then probes the government's prosecution of the champ under the Mann Act (which banned the interstate transport of females for "immoral purposes") for taking his girlfriends across state lines. Ward brings his award-winning biographical skills to this sympathetic portrayal, which practically bursts with his research-at times almost every page has its own footnote. Though the narrative drags slightly in Johnson's declining years, the champion's stubborn, uncompromising personality never lets up. Even readers who don't consider this a knockout will concede Ward a victory on points. Photos. Agent, Carl Brandt. (Nov. 1) Forecast: An accompanying documentary directed by Ward's frequent collaborator, Ken Burns, airing on PBS in January 2005 will boost sales. 60,000 first printing. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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