Arthur Ashe

In celebration of the U.S. Open beginning today, our Review of the Week highlights the life of tennis star Arthur Ashe.

Arthur Ashe: tennis and justice in the civil rights era

Hall, Eric Allen. Johns Hopkins, 2014
331p index afp, 9781421413945 $34.95, 9781421413952 $34.95

book cover

Looking through the lens of the life of tennis great Arthur Ashe (1943–1993), Hall (Georgia Southern Univ.) contributes to a wide array of histories: sport, political, social, labor, gender, and race. This remarkably comprehensive book introduces readers not simply to Ashe the athlete and the person but also to Ashe the political activist, the labor organizer, and the civil rights crusader. Hall paints a careful picture of the segregated Virginia in which Ashe grew up and the tensions he faced in struggling to determine how best to survive and then change white domination of tennis, the US, and South Africa. Although Hall respects and admires Ashe, he offers a balanced, nuanced examination of a complicated subject, acknowledging the criticism, for example, of Ashe’s choice to compete in segregated South Africa and his lack of support for the women’s liberation movement and for women’s tennis. This book is more than a biography; it is a window into the wider world that existed when Ashe was alive. Hall’s research is meticulous, his contextualization of a life is impressive, and he writes his story clearly and deftly.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers.
Reviewer: S. K. Fields, University of Colorado-Denver
Subject: Science & Technology – Sports & Recreation
Choice Issue: Nov 2015