Flesh and Blood

Washington Free Beacon | 1/19/2019 | Joseph Bottum
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BY: Joseph Bottum

The first time you get hit in the face, says Josh Rosenblatt, "you're overwhelmed with fear." The second time, "you take offense." Eventually it becomes "just another thing you do"—and, like most human activities, "sometimes you find meaning there," but "sometimes you find nothing."

Josh - Rosenblatt - Book - Account - Fighter

Reading Josh Rosenblatt's new book is a little like that. An account of trying to become a mixed-martial-arts fighter, Why We Fight keeps trying to hit its readers in the face. Sometimes you'll find meaning there. Sometimes you'll find nothing.

In truth, Why We Fight comes at its readers like the new fighter its author describes himself as having been: overenthusiastic at times, prone to telegraphing punches, swinging a few haymakers, windmilling a few blows. The book wants to be a powerful tale of violence, as seen by an educated man whose experiences and intelligence combine to discern the raw stuff of human existence. "Every man thinks meanly of himself for never having been a soldier," Samuel Johnson once opined, but it might not be true. Josh Rosenblatt seems to think meanly of himself mostly for never having been Ernest Hemingway.

Rosenblatt - Excurses - Legacy - Ashkenazi - Jews

As Rosenblatt indulges himself with excurses on the legacy of Ashkenazi Jews and bulks up his text with the history of personal combat, Why We Fight sometimes reads like a punch-drunk fighter, clinging to his opponent in a clinch he hopes will get him through to the bell. Why We Fight just isn't at the top of its weight class, the way A.J. Liebling's 1949 The Sweet Science was, the greatest classic ever written about boxing. Or even any number of other first-rate accounts: Norman Mailer's 1975 The Fight, for example, or George Plimpton's 1977 Shadow Box and Joe Layden's 2007 The Last Great Fight.

But that doesn't make Why We Fight bad. The author of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Washington Free Beacon
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