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In the spirit of Flashman and in the inimitable George MacDonald Fraser style comes a rousing story of prize fighting in the 19th century. Reissued in a stunning new package, Black Ajax will attract a new generation of fans. When Captain Buck Flashman sees the black boxer catch a fly in mid-flight he realizes that he is in the presence of speed such as the prize ring has never seen. Tom Molineaux may be crude and untutored, but if 'Mad Buck' knows anything (and like his notorious son, the archcad Harry Flashman, he has an unerring eye for the main chance), this ex-slave from America is a Champion in the making, on whose broad shoulders the ambitious Captain can climb to sporting and social fame. Under his patronage, the 'Black Ajax' is carried on a popular tide of sporting fever to his great dream: to fight the invincible, undefeated Champion of England, the great Tom Cribb. The story of Molineaux and his eventual battles with Cribb is told through a series of superbly original and individual voices - colourful, powerful and funny. Together they create a magnificent picture of Regency England and a portrait of a flawed hero who surmounted the barriers of ignorance, poverty and race hatred to bring the prize ring a lustre it had never known before, and may never again.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780006499817
ISBN-10: 0006499813
Format: Paperback
(197mm x 130mm x 17mm)
Pages: 256
Imprint: Harper
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publish Date: 20-Jul-1998
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


US Kirkus Review » A rip-roaring fictional retelling of the story of black bare-knuckle prizefighter Tom Molineaux, an American freed slave who challenged England's beloved heavyweight champion Tom Cribb in the early years of the 19th century. The same fractious energy that characterizes Fraser's popular Flashman novels courses throughout this wonderfully flavorful tale, which, following a Prologue set in 1818 (Molineaux's last year), presents the testimony of various "witnesses" to the fighter's life and career as elicited by an unnamed "industrious inquirer." The most voluble talkers are Thomas "Paddington" Jones and mulatto Bill Richmond, the "retired pugilists" who train and manage Tom; noted boxing journalist Pierce Egan (whose hyperbolic prose is expertly re-created); and especially Captain Buckley "Buck" Flashman (father of the better-known Harry), a goodnatured rogue who charms all and sundry with mellifluous harangues about the exhilarating horrors of the Napoleonic Wars and the merry licentiousness of the good old days - and who's equally capable of supervising Tom's career and of betraying "his" fighter for a fast purse. Through their and several others' memories of Tom's progress up from slavery through conquest and celebrity to dissolution and untimely death, Fraser builds a stunning picture of his eponymous hero as a magnificent athlete destroyed by the temptations of fame, battling gamely even when "woozy wi' daffy and collywobbles and half the strength drained out o' him by a night's fornicating"; and, even more impressively, of a Regency England characterized by "churches half-empty and hells packed full, fashion and frolic the occupations, and sport the religion." It all races by so quickly that there's scarcely time to savor the glorious period argot (much of it explained in a hilarious and helpful Glossary). You'd have to be dicked in the nob to dislike this book. It's bloody marvelous. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - George MacDonald Fraser

The author of the famous 'Flashman Papers' and the 'Private McAuslan' stories, George MacDonald Fraser has worked on newspapers in Britain and Canada. In addition to his novels he has also written numeous films, most notably 'The Three Musketeers', 'The Four Musketeers', and the James Bond film, 'Octopussy'. George Macdonald Fraser died in January 2008 at the age of 82.

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