It is truly wonderful that a book such as this could be written and published. But it would be unfair to say everyone needs to read it.
Pile Driver is a biography of 1920s and 30s wrestler Charles “Midget” Fischer, a grappler who stood 5’3″ and thus mainly competed in lower weight divisions, claiming versions of both the world light-heavyweight and middleweight titles. While not as widely known as the heavyweights of the era, he has a historical claim to fame by reportedly creating what we now know as the piledriver in a 1931 bout.
Author Kenneth R Boness, who hails from the same tiny Wisconsin village of Butternet as Fischer, clearly put an immense effort into researching the book. Running more than 700 pages, it’s largely based on newspaper reports of the time, many of which are reprinted in full.
This brings the benefit that the book is utterly comprehensive about Fischer’s in-ring career and elements of his personal life. The downside is that, by his own admission, Boness decided it was simplest to tell the “straight” story rather than address the issue of whether and (more realistically) how Fischer was involved in working finishes and programs.
The focus of the book is both its greatest strength and weakness depending on your viewpoint. If the idea of 700 pages on a lesser-known figure of the pre-war era appeals, you’ll find much to love in Pile Driver. But unless you have a hardcore interest in this aspect of wrestling history, you’re likely to find it hard going.