Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Man of The Century

Summary: "I am the spy of the century," said Woodrow Lowe, age 108, to his interviewer. "I was also a white slave, a heavyweight contender, the ruler of China [until the Dowager Empress cruelly deposed him], and the man who started World War I; and if you don't believe me, you can get out of my house." Were the ancient husk's pronouncements those of a liar or madman? At first it seemed the answer to both was yes. Yet over the years emerged unimpeachable evidence of these and many other feats. Man of the Century is Woodrow Lowe's story, unlike any ever remembered or read. He fought John L. Sullivan in the Dakotas; he was the first man up San Juan Hill during the charge of the Rough Riders and stood with Teddy Roosevelt at his Second Inaugural (Teddy bailed him out more than once). He carried off Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassin, never to be heard from again. He was a slave of the Dervish in the Sudan. Diamond Jim Brady met his match in Woodrow. He was the blond boyo who, a club fighter with a distinctive cauliflower ear (thanks to John L.), found himself mixed in with a century of American and world history, and, remarkably, lived to tell about it in his fashion, at once a rollicking, shrewd recital, dramatized to the hilt, that defied the challenge of the dry historiographies, and created a fulsome story filled with characters - real and some mythic you'll never forget.

Why I Recommend it: This is in no way the best book ever written. It's not overly popular, well known and I believe it didn't even make it to paperback printing. The thing is, I have no idea why. I read. A Lot. And this book is wonderful. I love it. It's funny, well written, the characters are appealing and it seems at the same time fantastical and realistic. I love it, though I can't put my finger on why. It's more than worth a read if you can find it, your best bet is ABEBooks or the Library.

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