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James Carlos Blake
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In 1903 seventeen-year-old Ketchel makes a violent break from his father and flees his family's Michigan farm to ride the rails as a hobo, brawling with tramps and brakemen and cops. He finds a home among the hard-living mine workers and seductive ladies in one of the last wild towns of the old west -- Butte, Montana -- where he falls in love with a free-spirited woman who will haunt his heart forever.
But Ketchel also discovers his true calling in Butte: cracking skulls as a saloon bouncer leads him to prizefighting, a bloodsport barely hindered by rules in that day. Despite his lack of formal training as a boxer, his ferocious and unbridled style quickly earns him a reputation as the "Michigan Assassin." He soon outclasses every middleweight in the West and, shortly thereafter, the world -- winning the middleweight title in 1908.
Only the reigning heavyweight champion, fearsome Jack Johnson, rivals Ketchel's claim to be the greatest boxer of the era. The first black to hold the world title and one of the most controversial figures of the time, Johnson becomes Ketchel's obsession. Driven to prove himself the best, Ketchel challenges Johnson to a title fight -- even though the "Galveston Giant" has anadvantage on him of forty pounds and several inches. Their match is one of boxing's most memorable dramas and leads to a unique bond between the two men. But its outcome also sets Ketchel on a willful and tragic course.
Steeped in the sweat and blood of the life of a legend, The Killings of Stanley Ketchel is a sweeping and powerful literary adventure by one of our most daring novelists.
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