The Harder They Fall
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Budd Schulberg's celebrated novel of the prize ring has lost none of its power since its first publication almost fifty years ago. Crowded with unforgettable characters, it is a relentless expose of the fight racket. A modern Samson in the form of a simple Argentine peasant is ballyhooed by an unscrupulous fight promoter and his press agent and then betrayed and destroyed by connivers. Mr. Schulberg creates a wonderfully authentic atmosphere for this book that many critics hailed as even better than What Makes Sammy Run? "The quintessential novel of boxing and corruption."―USA Today "The book will stand not only as the novel about boxing but also as a book that indirectly tells more about civilization than do most books about civilization itself."―Arthur Miller. "Brilliant, witty, and amusing―the best book on fighting that I have read."―Gene Tunney.
second-floor hall was Ruby’s suite—she and Nick had separate apartments—an upstairs sitting room decorated completely in white. At the far end of the room, facing us, was a white piano. A man was sitting on the bench at the piano, but he wasn’t playing. He had his back turned to it and his head was thrown back as if he were a mute going through the emotions of singing grand opera. We didn’t see Ruby at all until we were half way into the room. From where we stood, her head had been hidden by the
drama to all the matches that follow. For the sadism and cruelty of the Roman circus audience still peers out through eyes of the modern fight crowd. There is not only the conscious wish to see one man smash another into insensibility, but the sub-conscious, retrogressive urge to witness violent tragedy, even while the rational mind of the spectator turns away from excessive brutality. These psychological factors, combined with Stein’s authentic viciousness and Toro’s bogus savagery, made their
hitched. Hell, I was in the saddle with a different tomato every night until I got hitched. You oughta settle down and start having some kids, Eddie. Them kids, that’s what makes you want to work like a bastard.” From his inside pocket, Nick drew a handsome leather wallet, initialed in gold, N.L., Jr. “Here’s what I’m giving Junior for his graduation—he finishes the lower form up at N.Y.M.A. next week.” I took the wallet and turned it over in my hand. It was from Mark Cross, the best. Inside
Red threw his arms around George in a broad gesture of sportsmanship and mitted the crowd happily. They gave him a big hand as he left the ring. Most of them thought he had won. There were scattered boos for George as he climbed out through the ropes. “Nice work, George,” I shouted over to him as he passed on his way up the aisle, and he turned for a moment to give me that easy smile. The boos and the cheers, the glory and the name-calling, it was all in a night’s work to George. Five minutes
can’t dream it up. A small crowd of busybodies pressed around him. A couple called out, “Attaboy, Chief!” The Indian waved feebly. He must have been pretty sick from swallowing all that blood. In his own stupid, and unnecessarily brutal, martyrdom, he had won his victory. To us it had been just another little skirmish in the long campaign, but the Indian had given his blood in a cause neither Nick nor Miniff nor Vince could ever understand. 15 I DIDN’T BOTHER TO go back to the dressing room.