Synopses & Reviews
“Scandal on the Turf!” the Los Angeles Times
proclaimed. It was October 1940, a mere few months after Seabiscuit had won the Santa Anita Derby, and now this bombshell: “Six Jockeys Admit Horse Races Fixed.”
The Gambler and the Bug Boy recounts this dark chapter in horse racing history. At its center is Bernard “Big” Mooney, a flashy LA bookmaker who began his seedy career by threatening young jockeys with death if they didnt “pull” their horses. His unwilling partner is Albert Siler, a callow eighteen-year-old apprentice rider (a so-called bug boy) from eastern Oregon. Big Mooney manipulates this promising rider, while Siler tries to escape the gamblers criminal grip without ruining his career. The harrowing details of the unraveling plot and the botched court case that followed riveted the attention of the nation. Told in full for the first time, this story brings to light a little-known but fascinating horse racing scandal.
“Christgau is skilled at making memorable characters from his subjects. . . . History-minded handicappers will find much to appreciate.”—Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly Web Exclusive
“One could almost think that this entertaining work by Christgau . . . is a novel if it werent for the 40 pages of citations at the back. . . . Recommended . . . for those enjoying character-driven historical true crime.”—Library Journal Amy Ford
“Christgau tells this true crime story with skill, providing plenty of intrigue and suspense, and reminding anyone interested in racing why ‘suspicion [is] as much a part of horse racing as hope.”—Laurie A. Sterling, Aethlon
“In his customary fashion, John Christgau has spun an engrossing tale, rich in salient detail and peopled with memorable characters. From the starting gate to the finish line, The Gambler and the Bug Boy is a winner.”—Jay Feldman, author of When the Mississippi Ran Backwards Laurie A. Sterling - Aethlon
“This fascinating story of gambling and corruption has not yet been told. Fortunately, John Christgau brings the title characters into light and sets the stage effectively. . . . [A] well-researched piece that recounts a great story of intrigue in a place filled with mystery.”—True West Jay Feldman
"The wheel, the printing press, the light bulb, the airplane, the space ship, the jump shotand#8212;the progress of man can be measured by leaps into the void. This fascinating look at the athletes who changed basketball by jumping into the air and creating, when such a thing was taboo, is about sport and competition, but most of all it is about what Christgau describes as and#8216;the spirit of originality.and#8217; I couldnand#8217;t put it down."and#8212;Rick Telander
Before the jump shot, basketball was an earth-bound game. In fact, inventor James Naismith did not originally intend for players to move with the ball. The inspired invention of the dribble first put the ball handler in motion. The jump shot then took the action upward. But where, when, and how did the jump shot originate?and#160;Everybody interested in basketball knows the answer to that question. Unfortunately, everybody knows a different answer. John Christgau delves into basketballand#8217;s evolution, following the supposed inventors of the jump shot to the games in which they first took to the air. He discovers that a number of pioneer players, independently but from the same inspired possibility, can each claim credit for inventing the jump shot.
About the Author
John Christgau is the author of several books including Spoon, winner of the Society of Midland Authors Best Fiction Award. He played basketball for three years at San Francisco State University and was named to the All-Conference team twice.