Titanic Thompson: The Man Who Bet on Everything

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W. W. Norton & Company, Nov 22, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 272 pages
2 Reviews

Capturing the spirit of a freewheeling era, this rollicking biography brings to life the gambler-hero who inspired Guys and Dolls.

Born in a log cabin in the Ozarks, Alvin "Titanic" Thompson (1892-1974) traveled with his golf clubs, a .45 revolver, and a suitcase full of cash. He won and lost millions playing cards, dice, golf, pool, and dangerous games of his own invention. He killed five men and married five women, each one a teenager on her wedding day. He ruled New York's underground craps games in the 1920s and was Damon Runyon's model for slick-talking Sky Masterson. Dominating the links in the pre-PGA Tour years, Thompson may have been the greatest golfer of his time, teeing up with Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Lee Trevino, and Ray Floyd. He also traded card tricks with Houdini, conned Al Capone, lost a million to Minnesota Fats and then teamed up with Fats and won it all back. A terrific read for anyone who has ever laid a bet, Titanic Thompson recaptures the colorful times of a singular figure: America's original road gambler.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Cygnus555 - LibraryThing

This was a fun read - light and entertaining. I had never heard of Titanic before this book, but after hearing the pitch on NPR one afternoon, I decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did: I now know ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - daisy511 - LibraryThing

Titanic Thompson was quite an exciting character. His talents and the history of his times are captured in the book. The book is well written and provides a terrific glimpse into the world of early 20th century hustlers. Read full review

Contents

Prologue
1
Out of the Woods
5
Fun and Games
21
Alice and the Sergeant
43
Capone Houdini and a Couple of Corpses
61
His First Million
79
The Wrong Kind of Hero
95
Trial and Error
123
The Widowers Ambush
133
A Homecoming
165
Titanics Last Stand
183
Living Legend
209
Postscripts
225
Acknowledgments
233
Index
241
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

A former senior editor at Sports Illustrated, Kevin Cook is the author of Titanic Thompson, Tommy's Honor, Kitty Genovese and The Dad Report. He lives in New York City.

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