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Ali : a life
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Fiction/Biography Profile
African American men
Civil rights movements
Social activists
Time Period
1942-2016 -- 20th-21st century
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  Library Journal Review

In his latest work, Eig (The Birth of the Pill), an unabashed admirer of heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali (1942-2016), takes on the challenge of separating man from myth. This biography touches on and fleshes out legendary tales relating to Ali: the stolen bicycle that led to him to a boxing gym, the Olympic medal he supposedly hurled into the Ohio River, and his statement in opposition of the Vietnam War. Eig skillfully utilizes resources unavailable to previous authors, allowing him to present other aspects of Ali, including his rift with Nation of Islam mentor Malcolm X, his verbal and physical torment of his opponents in the ring, and his extramarital affairs. As a boxer, Ali was a combination of power and grace. Eig, who is working with Ken Burns to develop a documentary on his subject, equals this combination with his blend of research and storytelling. VERDICT A must-read for Ali fans, followers of the sweet science in general, and those curious about the maelstrom of events that shaped a generation. [See Prepub, Alert, 3/27/17.]-Jim Burns, formerly with Jacksonville P.L., FL © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

Of the many books on Ali recently published, this evenhanded account will likely be one of the most read. Eig (Luckiest Man) opens with Ali's 1964 fight with Sonny Liston, which would propel a fast-punching and even faster-talking young African-American into the spotlight of a revolutionary era. Rather than focus on boxing highlights, however, Eig broadens his account to include the Clay family heritage, the changing culture of the times, and the long physical decline that silenced the Louisville Lip even as he became a beloved international figure. Eig has produced a thorough overview of a complex person, but he is no boxing authority and his descriptions of bouts and technique are merely adequate. He also offers a rather thin argument that Ali was suffering from pugilistic dementia as early as age 28 (Eig's central exhibit is that Ali spoke more slowly during his comeback). Of course, Ali transcended his profession. Eig industriously traces how a brash kid evolved into a countercultural hero and, in his later years, became a trembling, muted icon. Sharp quotations and expert pacing make the 600-plus pages light on their feet but ultimately Eig's studied equanimity never quite captures exactly why Muhammad Ali was indeed "the Greatest." (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Winner of the 2018 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing<br> Winner of The Times Sports Biography of the Year <br> <br> "Stunning . . . Eig's brilliant, exhaustive book is the biography the champ deserves." <br> <br> The definitive biography of an American icon, from a New York Times best-selling author with unique access to Ali's inner circle <br> <br> He was the wittiest, the prettiest, the strongest, the bravest, and, of course, the greatest (as he told us himself). Muhammad Ali was one of the twentieth century's most fantastic figures and arguably the most famous man on the planet.<br> <br> But until now, he has never been the subject of a complete, unauthorized biography. Jonathan Eig, hailed by Ken Burns as one of America's master storytellers, radically reshapes our understanding of the complicated man who was Ali. Eig had access to all the key people in Ali's life, including his three surviving wives and his managers. He conducted more than 500 interviews and uncovered thousands of pages of previously unreleased FBI and Justice Department files, as well dozens of hours of newly discovered audiotaped interviews from the 1960s. Collectively, they tell Ali's story like never before--the story of a man who was flawed and uncertain and brave beyond belief.<br> <br> "I am America," he once declared. "I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me--black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me."<br> <br> He was born Cassius Clay in racially segregated Louisville, Kentucky, the son of a sign painter and a housekeeper. He went on to become a heavyweight boxer with a dazzling mix of power and speed, a warrior for racial pride, a comedian, a preacher, a poet, a draft resister, an actor, and a lover. Millions hated him when he changed his religion, changed his name, and refused to fight in the Vietnam War. He fought his way back, winning hearts, but at great cost. Like so many boxers, hestayed too long.<br> <br> Jonathan Eig's Ali reveals Ali in the complexity he deserves, shedding important new light on his politics, religion, personal life, and neurological condition. Ali is a story about America, about race, about a brutal sport, and about a courageous man who shook up the world.
Table of Contents
Preface: Miami, 1964p. ix
Part I
1Cassius Marcellus Clayp. 3
2The Loudest Childp. 7
3The Bicyclep. 20
4"Every Day Was Heaven"p. 29
5The Prophetp. 44
6"I'm Just Young and Don't Give a Damn"p. 53
7America's Herop. 60
8Dreamerp. 68
9"Twentieth-Century Exuberance"p. 86
10"It's Show Business"p. 96
11Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Beep. 113
12The Ugly Bearp. 128
13"So What's Wrong with the Muslims?"p. 133
14Becoming Muhammad Alip. 152
15Choicep. 164
16"Girl, Will You Marry Me?"p. 170
17Assassinationp. 179
18Phantom Punchp. 187
19True Lovep. 193
20A Holy Warp. 202
21No Quarrelp. 211
22"What's My Name?"p. 220
23"Against the Furies"p. 228
Part II
24Exilep. 237
25Faithp. 242
26Martyrp. 252
27Song and Dance and Prayerp. 266
28The Greatest Book of All Timep. 275
29Stand by Mep. 279
30Comebackp. 285
31"The World Is Watching You"p. 297
32A Different Fighterp. 299
33The Five-Million-Dollar Matchp. 306
34Ali v. Frazierp. 313
35Freedomp. 321
36Trickerationp. 335
Part III
37A Fight to the Finishp. 351
38Heart of Darknessp. 361
39Fighter's Heavenp. 370
40"Ali Boma Ye!"p. 380
41Rumble in the Junglep. 392
42Moving on Upp. 403
43Impulsesp. 415
44Ali-Frazier IIIp. 425
45Getting Oldp. 431
46"They May Not Let Me Quit"p. 435
47"Do You Remember Muhammad Ali?"p. 446
48Staggeredp. 453
49Crown Princep. 459
50Oldp. 466
51Humpty Dumptyp. 475
52The Last Hurrahp. 490
53Too Many Punchesp. 499
54"He's Human, Like Us"p. 509
55A Torchp. 520
56The Long, Black Cadillacp. 526
Postscriptp. 538
Acknowledgmentsp. 540
Notesp. 543
Appendix: Career Recordp. 605
Indexp. 608
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