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am 22. August 1999
Remnick's multi-facted biography of Classius Cly (Muhammad Ali) places into the focus the young champion as he was in the beginning, before he became a legend (faults included), and in my case, a hero. Most compelling were the mini-biographies of Liston, Pattterson, Malcom X, the various sport writers. These helped to place perspective into the story and let the reader be a part of those times. How soon we forget the overt racism that was ingrained in American life not so long along. I have never been a boxing fan, but have long admired Ali as a person who had the courage to do the right thing. Today it is easy to look back casually remark that his accomplishments were as a boxer. However, Remnick's Clay/Ali paints the brash (in those days the word uppity would have been used)confident young Negro that challenged existing conventions and won. We might even say that nobody ever "walked the talked" like Ali did. Yes, he was neither the bad negro or the good negro, he was and became Muhammad Ali, a negro who stood as an independent man, ready to change the way others preceived himself and the members of his race. Ali should go down not only as a great boxer, not only as a man that help to end the draft, but a man that helped to change the way Americans look at African-Americans. Ali is one of the true icons of American History.
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am 18. Januar 1999
At a time when the phrase, "You the man" seems to be applied to every "wannabe" during every sporting event on TV, this book tells the tale about the person who really is THE MAN! The mystique that is Ali comes to life as a truly special person . . a man who, though basically illiterate (he was initially given an 87 IQ (sub-intelligent) by his draft board), who never learned to read, and who has lived a large part of his adult life without being able to express himself. I found it fascinating to learn about his exposure to religion and his endorsement of a philosophy that was interpreted incorrectly by most of the newspaper reporters who covered his rise to the Championship during the 60's. This book, which follows Ali for a short period of his career . . . the 1st Liston bout up to the Patterson fight . . . casts a giant floodlight and illuminates many of the shadows that have confused many of us about this legend. I now know why . . . (I really never was able to understand my instincts before this read) I have come to regard this guy as "the Greatest" ! David Remnick should receive another Pulitzer Prize for this one.
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am 6. Januar 1999
The best book I have ever read about Muhammad Ali, especially due the in-depth analysis of the conversion of Cassius Clay to the Islamic Faith, as well as the detailed coverage of the two men who held the Heavyweight Championship crown prior to Clay/Ali, Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston. Anyone who is interested in the history of Ali will cherish reading this book.
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am 20. März 2000
Muhammad Ali is an almost universally revered figure today, but this book reminds us that it was not always so. This book covers the time between when young Cassius Clay won the Olympic gold medal in boxing until he emerged as the premiere fighter of the '60's when he beat Floyd Patterson in 1965.
Until Ali came along, heavyweight fighters were expected to fight flat-footed and use their superior strength and hitting power to defeat their opponents. Ali showed them a different way with his "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" way of fighting. And there was always his bragging. Ali knew very well what he was doing with his poems and his ever-running mouth. They sold tickets to his fights, pure and simple. But in his first fight with Liston even he wasn't sure if he could deliver on his boasts.
If you've ever wondered how it was in the '60's when Clay fought the bear, Sonny Liston, this is a must read. You'll learn things about Muhammad Ali that haven't been covered before. I'd recommend this book highly.
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am 27. Dezember 1998
David Remnick does a masterful job in placing the reader alongside Ali - from Ali's days as a youth in Jim Crow Louisville, to his success in the Olympics, to his "shocking the world" with his annihilation of an unbeatable Sonny Liston, to his controversial spritual growth obtained via the Nation of Islam. The beginning scene is exceptional with Remnick at Ali's farm in Michigan and is only continued throughout the book and finally when Ali walks Remnick to his car to leave Ali's home. The reader's respect and amazement over Ali's life (and this is only from youth to denouncing the draft)will further be stregnthened. Remnick does a great job of supplying the reader with "Ali-isms", quotes and memories from the Champ. Those who feel sadness of Ali's current state will be a bit relieved that Ali himself is most at peace with himself and condition. Through Remnick's work we are all reminded that Ali was and is, for all eternity, truly The Greatest.
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am 1. Dezember 1998
Is there anything left to say about Muhammad Ali? Absolutely, when the writer possesses the skills of David Remnick. The author does a marvelous job of presenting the former heavyweight champion as a complex individual during a most turbulent period in our history - the 1960's. Through his use of clear, readable language, Remnick focuses on, and simplifies, some complex social and psychological issues. The prologue and the epilogue, featuring the author's visit with the modern-day Ali, provide an effective structure, allowing the reader to better understand the man who, now more than ever, remains "King of the World." Somehow by the end of the book, we have a feeling for Ali the man and the reasons he has indeed transcended the world of sports. This is more than a book about a great boxer, or even a remarkable human being. Ultimately, Remnick has provided us with a book about the second half of the twentieth century in America. Great reading!
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am 19. Januar 2000
Perhaps I am not the best person to review this book as I am not a boxing fan at all, rather a person who appreciates good non-fiction and character studies. I picked up this book based on other reader reviews and the fact that that Time magazine named it the Best Nonfiction book of the year. The title of this book, as mentioned by other reviewers, is somewhat misleading as the book is only in part about Muhammad Ali. This book is more of a history about the era in which Ali became the champ. It is a well written account of Ali's association with the Black Muslim's and Malcolm X. It is also an informative account of the other famous fighters of his time and before. While the book is not a "gripping" book it certainly holds the interest of the reader. Surprisingly, after reading it I found myself less of a fan of Ali's than before,which may be the best evidence that the book is an honest account of the era.
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am 2. Dezember 1998
This book captures the context in which Ali first gained notoriety.It clearly describes how Ali broke the mold relative to sports figures by contrasting his style both in and out of the ring to that of his immediate predecessors Sonny Liston and Floyd Patterson. Ali was "THE GREATEST" in many ways. His influence on not only his own sport but on the entire culture is evident throughout this well documented and entertaining book. It is remarkable how much has changed in 35 years. Remnick brings many of the events of the early 60's clearly into focus. I found it fascinating to think about the proximity in time of such events as the Kennedy assassination, the Clay-Liston fight, and the Beatles invasion. Not that any of these things are necessarily related, but it WAS an amazing time. The writing here is crisp and the numerous quotes from eyewitnesses enhance the narrative. Well worth the time.
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am 12. Dezember 1999
I'm a big boxing fan, and am fascinated with both Muhammed Ali, how he evolved from Cassisus Clay, and Sonny Liston. There's a lot of great boxing writing, however, and I thought every angle of these two had already been covered, both in facts and in their roles as mythic figures. So it was with great pleasure (and surprise) I found David Remnick's book so terrific. Besides learning new facts that only a good investigative reporter could dig up 35 years after the fact, the book read like a great story. The prose really flowed, but not in a pretentious way that took away from the subjects, and I think even non-boxing fans would enjoy the tale of when these two tragic men (though Ali wouldn't become tragic for decades)met to fight for the heavyweight crown. I plan on buying a hardcover for my boxing book collection (a shelf I'm VERY discriminating about.)Thanks David Remnick!
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am 27. März 1999
This is not really a standard biography. It focuses only on a few of Ali's fights, ending with his bout with Floyd Patterson in 65. So those looking for a comprehensive overview of Ali's career will be disapointed. However, it does show why Ali is the greatest athlete of the 20th century. It does that by telling Ali's story in the context of his era and it is captivating reading. We get Ali in all his greatness -- and even in all his cruelty. He was a man, but a man that stood for something. That alone makes him rare in sport, especially today when all athletes seem to be interested in are endorsement deals or making rap records. Somehow I can't picture a Michael Jordan allowing himself to be thrown out of sport during his prime years, simply because of a deeply held religious belief. Pick up with book, you won't regret it.
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