September 16, 2002
Sportsmen & Gamesmen, a collection of biographical sketches
of 19th-century Americans by John Dizikes, has just been published in
a new edition by the University of Missouri Press.
Dizikes, professor emeritus of American studies, draws the distinction
between sportsmen who play the game for itself, and gamesman who are trying
to achieve something outside the game.
From Andrew Jackson to P. T. Barnum, Sportsmen & Gamesmen
tells the stories of Americans involved in popular sporting life. At the
time of the volume's initial publication in 1981, the New York Times
wrote "It's a pleasure to meet some of the less familiar sporting
and gaming figures that Mr. Dizikes introduces in his volume."
Included in the collection are James Cox Stevens, whose winning yacht,
America, lent its name to the sailing prize cup after its victory
in the initial race; the brilliant chess player Paul Morphy who went mad;
and the tale of a pugilist and his girlfriend, John C. Heenan and Adah
Through the lives he describes, Dizikes also reveals 19th-century American culture, and the gradual process of creating an American sporting culture distinct from the British aristocratic sporting tradition.