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King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero Paperback – October 5, 1999
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In extraordinary detail, Remnick depicts Ali as a creation of his own imagination as we follow the willful and mercurial young Cassius Clay from his boyhood and watch him hone and shape himself to a figure who would eventually command center stage in one of the most volatile decades in our history. To Remnick it seems clear that Ali's greatest accomplishment is to prove beyond a doubt that not only is it possible to challenge the implacable forces of the establishment (the noir-ish, gangster-ridden fight game and the ethos of a whole country) but, with the right combination of conviction and talent, to triumph over these forces. --Fred Haefele --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
But there's a special bonus in this book - a good portion of it deals with Sonny Liston. You talk about your seminal 20th Century characters. They don't get any more interesting than this guy: the abused son of a sharecropper, long stretches of imprisonment, a fight career directed by mob interests, a violent death. In short, a writer's dream. Remnick brings Liston together with Floyd Patterson (and you'll never find a greater constrast) and walks you through these two battles before turning his attention to Ali. Thus, you get a full portrait of Liston prior to encountering the force of nature that was then Cassius Clay.
The effect is a curious sympathy that you have for Liston as he enters the maelstrom developing around Ali. In most retellings, Liston is cast as the personification of evil. Remnick made me see him in a different light.
My advice for a great Ali study program:
1. Watch 'When We Were Kings' [Best documentary ever]
2. Read 'The Fight' by Norman Mailer
3. Read 'King of the World'
4. Buy any book featuring Howard Bingham's photography of Ali.
The first thing that struck me when I read the book is that its first section discusses Muhammad Ali (or Cassius Clay) very little. Instead, Remnick focuses on the two boxers who helped to gave shape to Ali's legend: Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston. The former was a reluctant champion from the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, and Remnick brings Patterson's reticence and self-doubt into full view. The latter was a street thug from an impoverished rural background, a vision of America's deepest fears about African-Americans.
Remnick details Liston's two devastating first-round demolitions of Patterson and illuminates the complicated relationship the public had with Liston. On the one hand, he was despised because of his criminal background and ties to the mob; on the other, Remnick makes clear, he was comforing because he confirmed stereotyped perceptions of black men. One of Remnick's great accompishments in the book is to humanize Liston without in the least diminishing his surly and even hateful demeanor.
With Liston the controversial heavyweight champ, the loud, abrasive, seemingly self-confident Cassius Clay, of Louisville, Kentucky, stepped into the national spotlight.Read more ›
It turns out that the bully in question was not just your familiar neighborhood bike thief, but Ali's own racist nation. Ali's life has become nothing if not a living metaphor of how a single moral individual should fight a thief and rapist as big and as formidable as ones own country. And racist America was a thief and a rapist -- not just one trying to steal Cassius Clay's bike -- it was trying to steal something much more important and valuable. American tried desperately, as it has succeeded doing with most black men, to steal Ali's manhood too. But try as it might-- stripping him of his chance at the title during his best years, of his means of economic survival, in trying to jail him -- it failed.
Sadly, the part of the story that Remick got wrong was the only important part: claiming that it was Ali who had re-created himself to suit the requirements of racist America instead of the other way around? Ali did no such thing! To suggest so, is not just an implicit lie; it is an explicit lie as well.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
GREAT READ for the Ali Fan,,,, this book comer thru in EVERY WAY and ON EVERY LEVEL!! Enjoy you willPublished 8 days ago by Amazon Customer
A really good book about an era in boxing which was very special.
It reminded me of what a great man Ali really was.
Well written and interesting. I didn't want it to end. Not trying to be a full biography, the focus is on the two Liston fights, which it uses as a platform for broader... Read morePublished 1 month ago by R. MacDonald
Fascinating man, very complex the book also gave great insight into the America of the 1960s.Published 1 month ago by LkyleHolland
This book is great as many of the other reviewers mentioned. One of my favorites all time. Just be really careful not to by the Audible or the MP3 version which are both heavily... Read morePublished 3 months ago by James G. Dangelo
Great book that introduces the turbulence in the era that was the 1960's.Published 4 months ago by College student
before my time I've always heard stories about him, it was great to read about himPublished 9 months ago by Tembi P.