Black Ajax

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BookCover.Black Ajax.gif
  • Written by George MacDonald Fraser
  • ISBN 078670618X
  • Format: Paperback, 248pp
  • Pub. Date: May 1999
  • Publisher: Avalon Publishing Group

Note: This is a novel, but has been highly recommended by Forum members.

When Captain Buckley "Mad Buck" Flashman, father of the notorious Harry, sees a black American boxer catch a fly in mid-flight, he realizes he has discovered the prize ring's best, and potentially most lucrative, fighter ever. What follows in George MacDonald Fraser's colorful re-creation of Regency England is the powerful, rollicking, and moving tale of Tom Molineaux, a freed slave from New Orleans, who challenged Britain's celebrated and undefeated champion Tom Cribb. The Black Ajax became no less famous a figure in England than Napoleon - and just as much a threat to its establishment - as he boxed his way into legend and created the precedent for modern black prizefighters.

Publishers Weekly:
Taking a break from his delightful series about the Victorian scoundrel Harry Flashman, Fraser gives us a superb novel about Tom Molineaux, a freed slave from Virginia, who was a boxing sensation in the early days of the sport in Regency England. Fraser's encyclopaedic knowledge of 19th-century British mores and slang and his splendid eye for period color have never been put to better use. He tells the story of Molineaux through a series of narrators: Molineaux's trainer and second; contemporary boxing journalists; Flashman's rakish father, who takes up Tom's cause for a time; his childhood sweetheart; a lascivious footman; and others. All of them are characterized with a perfect ear for their particular dictionand, for those taken aback by the authentic vernacular, there is a useful glossary. The portrait of Molineaux vain, strutting, childlike, at once hugely courageous and profoundly vulnerable is memorable. Has there ever been a more vivid picture of the thrills and horrors of the early bare-knuckle boxing days, when the sport was at once illegal and a national obsession? For anyone interested in the period, in the place of a black man in a highly stratified society and in a compelling story of courage and ultimate sorrow, this is the book.