From Publishers Weekly
Few lives have been more zealously recorded in movies, photography and literature than Ali's. So it's fortunate that this book is not so much a memoir as a collection of the supreme athlete's spiritual contemplations. Structured as a series of minichapters on abstract virtues—love, friendship, peace, wisdom, understanding, respect, etc.—it consists of Ali's religious reflections, buttressed by personal anecdotes, Sufi parables, aphorisms, personal letters and poetry. What might be seen as mawkish or cloying from someone less universally beloved has real poignancy coming from boxing's brashest champion ("The Mouth" was one of his many nicknames), who is slowly being driven behind a wall of silence by Parkinson's. The book has the intensity of a deathbed confessional. Ali is settling his accounts, apologizing to Joe Frazier and Malcolm X for hurting them. But primarily he is giving advice to his many children, for whom he obviously feels an overwhelming love. (His daughter Hana addresses her love for her father directly in the book.) Besides Ali's love, readers will be struck by his remarkable faith. With the Black Muslims, he found not only an expression of his own pride in being black but also a personal relationship with Allah, which served as the wellspring for the remarkable courage he displayed both inside ("The Rumble in the Jungle") and outside (refusing the Vietnam draft) the ring. It's hard not to be moved by Ali's spirit. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Who could have imagined the Muhammad Ali who first shook up the world writing a "Recipe for a Good Life" that includes "one teaspoon of patience" and "one dash of humility"? No tablespoons of trash talk or fiery rhetoric here--this disorganized pastiche of poems, meditations, Sufi stories, recollections, and advice is thoroughly softhearted, sometimes cloyingly so. There's not much in the way of boxing--when Ali writes of the run-up to his Olympic gold medal in Rome, for instance, it's only to reveal his fear of flying and to impress upon readers the importance of conquering one's fears. And the writing is, well, . . . not good ("Everything that God created was put here for a purpose. The sun has a purpose. The clouds have a purpose. Rain has a purpose." And on the list goes). But still, Ali's fans will learn a lot about the kinder, gentler man he has become. He even apologizes, in a moving poem, for taunting and ridiculing Joe Frazier. In the book's best poetic moment, Ali wonders, "Who would win the Rumble between the / Butterfly and the bee?" The butterfly wins here by TKO (technical knockout). John GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved