Joe Louis: America’s Hero ... Betrayed
Everybody from Dick Gregory, Bill Cosby, and Maya Angelou to Jimmy Carter, Jerry Lewis, and Gay Talese gets to talk about Joe Louis, a.k.a. “the Brown Bomber,” including his son, his several biographers, Rocky Marciano’s brother, and the former sports editor of The Daily Worker. This, with the usual first-rate archival work of HBO Sports, is the infuriating story of a sharecropper’s son who thought he had actually become an American when he knocked out Nazi favorite Max Schmeling in the first round in Yankee Stadium in 1938. Louis lost years of championship purses by enlisting in the U.S. Army a month after Pearl Harbor, was betrayed by his racketeer management team, and then joined a circus act—selling hair pomade and cigarettes; pro wrestling—after being hounded by a vengeful IRS that treated him like Al Capone. He wound up a greeter in Las Vegas and a cocaine-addled paranoid.