Jim Brown: Last Man Standing

Blue Rider. May 2018. 352p. illus. index. ISBN 9780399173448. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780698186071. SPORTS
Jim Brown, a former fullback for the Cleveland Browns, is a complicated individual who demands respect as an American sports icon comparable only to the late Muhammad Ali and basketball star Bill Russell. Brown has written two autobiographies (Off My Chest; Out of Bounds) and was the subject of Mike Freeman's Jim Brown: The Fierce Life of an American Hero. Sportswriter Zirin, though, is the first to examine fully Brown's political views, especially relating to black pride and power. Zirin begins each chapter with "You are…," in an attempt to imagine the feelings of a person who will figure later on in a given chapter, whether Syracuse Coach Ben Schwartzwalder, Cleveland owner Art Modell, Black Panther leader Huey Newton, or former gang member Rockhead Johnson. While this practice comes across as an artificial representation, the author still manages to paint a complete portrait of Brown. Zirin also deals with this uncomfortable subject of Brown's alleged domestic abuse.
VERDICT The audience for this book will be readers more interested in Brown's politics and personality than his football career.
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