A journalistically rigorous depiction of both Angelo Dundee and boxing.




A debut historical novel chronicles the career of one of the most successful boxing trainers of all time. 

Angelo Dundee, “born Angelo Mirena” in 1921, grows up in a hardscrabble neighborhood in south Philadelphia. In response to bullying by street toughs, he is encouraged to train at a local gym, a fateful move that will influence the rest of his life. Dundee goes off to war in 1944 but continues to work informally as a trainer and quickly establishes a sterling reputation as a cornerman “seconding” fighters. When he returns to the United States, he follows his older brother, Chris, to New York City to work at the famed Stillman’s Gym, picking up extra money sporadically as a bucket boy, barely making ends meet. But his luck turns after he moves to Miami and is signed as trainer for Carmen Basilio, a rising star who will go on to win the welterweight crown. In 1956, the Chicago Sportswriters and Broadcasters recognizes Dundee’s accomplishments and votes him Boxing Trainer of the Year. Brown meticulously documents the high points of Dundee’s extraordinary career, including training Cassius Clay (and after his religious conversion, Muhammad Ali), Sugar Ray Leonard, and George Foreman. The author expertly presents a portrait of Dundee as morally uncompromising, whether defending Ali’s decision to become a Muslim, battling the racism so common at the time, or standing up to mobsters. When a well-known gangster brings up the trainer’s wife in conversation, Dundee responds: “We can talk boxing, we can talk bourbon, or we can even talk birds and bees if you want, but we don’t talk about my wife.” Brown’s research couldn’t be more diligent, and while his prose never reaches literary heights—and the dialogue can be flat—he still provides an astute interpretation of a historically significant and captivating life. An installment in the Barbera Foundation’s Mentoris Project, which focuses on eminent Italians and Italian-Americans, this is an inspiring story of a man’s ascendancy from obscurity to greatness. 

A journalistically rigorous depiction of both Angelo Dundee and boxing.

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947431-20-1

Page Count: 236

Publisher: Barbera Foundation

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2019

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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