Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

One of eight children born to an Alabama sharecropper, Joe Louis Barrow, publicly known as Joe Louis, was probably the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. When he arrived at the pinnacle of his well-earned fame in the 1930’s, he had also become the United States’ best known—and most admired—African-American celebrity.

In twelve readable and engaging chapters, Chris Mead recounts the consequences of these achievements upon Louis’ life. Champion: Joe Louis, Black Hero in White America explains how Louis was at once lauded as a credit to, and a model for, his race. At the same time, he tried living and behaving according to the somewhat different rhythms of his private personality. This scholarly, chronological narrative is rich in its detail and particularly exciting in its partial recapitulations of Louis’ ma-jor or pivotal fights. There are a dozen full-page and half-page photographs of Louis, his associates, and his family during various phases of the champion’s career. Mead’s brief bibliographical essays on each chapter’s secondary sources are themselves intrinsically interesting for the way in which they supplement the conversations and controversies detailed in the body of the work. In addition, there is an excellent, extensive, double-columned index that assists readers in weighing the relative importance of the scores of personalities mentioned in the book.

Mead’s study examines Louis’ entire career...

(The entire section is 416 words.)