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Terror in the City of Champions: Murder,…

Terror in the City of Champions: Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society…

by Tom Stanton

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In 1935 Detroit teams won the World Series, the Stanley Cup, and the NFL championship. This won the city the nickname of City of Champions. At the same time a shadowy organization called the Black Legion was gaining members in Southeast Michigan. Similar to the Klan, the Black Legion was anti-immigrant, anti-labor union, and also opposed to Blacks and Jews in the area. They intimidated people into joining the Legion once they had attended a first meeting and taken an oath. This is a very interesting look at Detroit in the middle 1930s. ( )
  velopunk | Aug 17, 2017 |
TERROR IN THE CITY OF CHAMPIONS by Tom Stanton recounts Detroit as the city of champions, with three major sports (baseball, football and hockey) having championships in 1935, while in the shadows of the city during the same time, a ruthless, violent organization know as the Black Legion, was thriving and terrorizing the entire North Michigan region.
As a Detroit Tigers fan myself, I'll admit a special draw this book and perhaps I will also carry a bit of a bias in how much I enjoyed this book. Stanton approaches the study of this time in three ways: He looks at the sports teams, particularly the Tigers, and how they became the champions, from putting the right puzzle pieces together, to overcoming obstacles and finally to reaching the pinnacle of their respective leagues. Stanton also delves deeply into the beginnings of the Black Legion, how they recruited, who the identified leaders were, and recreated many of their crimes. The third facet of the book was how the sports champions and at the same time the Black Legion was woven into the culture of Detroit, and to a degree the rest of the country, in the 1930's.
Stanton detailed many of the Detroit Tigers during the time and a natural desire for them to succeed comes forth. It seems likes Stanton has a sweet spot for Mickey Cochrane, the catcher/manager of the 1935 teams and rightfully so, because he was a key figure for the Tigers due to his dual participation. In the end there is a sadness to see his decline after all time and effort he put into making the Tigers champions.
Stanton recreation of Black Legion events and actions are written so well that you forget that he wasn't there and that he used multiple sources to cobble together his best estimate as to what really happened. I also like how Stanton made a point of considering not just the leaders and members of the Black Legion that were dedicated to the cause, but he also looked at the reluctant participant, many of them who waffled and questioned their participation in such a scandalous and criminal group.
I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Detroit sports and readers of historical prominence. Also, if I ever travel to Detroit, I hope to have time to explore some of the city where a lot of the book takes place, especially the field where Tigers Stadium used to be.
Thank you to Rowman & Littlefield, Lyons Press, Tom Stanton, and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! ( )
  EHoward29 | Apr 21, 2016 |
If you are into history of the depression years, sports and crime this is the riveting book for you. I am into two of those, history and crime though not sports and it was still riveting for me. Terror in the City of Champions opens with the arrival of Mickey Cochrane, a baseball star who roused the Great Depression’s hardest-hit city by leading the Tigers to the 1934 pennant. Not something the Tigers have become accustomed to. A year later he guided the team to its first championship. Within seven months the Lions and Red Wings follow in football and hockey—all while Joe Louis chased boxing’s heavyweight crown.

Amidst such glory, the Legion’s dreadful toll grew unchecked: staged “suicides,” bodies dumped along roadsides, high-profile assassination plots. Talkative Dayton Dean’s involvement would deepen as heroic Mickey’s Cochrane’s reputation would rise. But the ballplayer had his own demons, including a close friendship with Harry Bennett, Henry Ford’s brutal union buster.

Award-winning author Tom Stanton weaves a stunning tale of history, crime, and sports. Richly portraying 1930s America, Terror in the City of Champions features a pageant of colorful figures: iconic athletes, sanctimonious criminals, scheming industrial titans, a bigoted radio priest, a love-smitten celebrity couple, J. Edgar Hoover, and two future presidents, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. It is a riveting true story set at the confluence of hard luck, hope, victory, and violence.
. ( )
  SigmundFraud | Mar 14, 2016 |
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Detroit 1936: In a city abuzz over its unrivaled sports success, baseball fan Dayton Dean is arrested for murder. Though said to have a childlike intelligence, Dean possesses a vivid memory and a hunger for attention. He gives police a story about a secret Klan-like organization called the Black Legion, responsible for countless murders, floggings, and fire bombings. The Legion has tens of thousands of members in the Midwest, among them politicians and notable citizens—even, possibly, a beloved Detroit athlete. When Dean’s revelations explode, they all seek cover. Award-winning author Tom Stanton’s stunning work of history, crime, and sports, weaves together the terror of the Legion with the magnificent athletic ascension of Detroit. Richly portraying 1930s America, and featuring figures like Louis, the country’s most famous black man; Jewish slugger Hank Greenberg; anti-Semitic Henry Ford; radio priest Father Coughlin; and J. Edgar Hoover, Terror in the City of Champions is a rollicking true tale set at the confluence of hard luck, hope, victory, and violence.… (more)

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