- Hardcover: 221 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster (November 16, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743255690
- ISBN-13: 978-0743255691
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 112 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life's Journey Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 16, 2004
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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.
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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 Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Rabbi Joe Rapport of Congregation Adath Israel Brith Sholom in Louisville gave a moving account of the boxing great's encounter with a Christian man who needed a ride.
It's a story Hana [Ali] tells about her father towards the end of his book, "The Soul of a Butterfly".
Hana is driving her father to a bookstore on one Sunday to pick up some Bibles and Qurans for a project that he's working on. They pass an elderly man standing by the road with a Bible in one hand and his thumb in the air with another. They offer him a ride.
And he thanks them, saying that he's on his way home from church, he only needs to go a few miles down the street... Hana asked where he lives. He doesn't want to trouble them or go out of their way. He has no idea who is sitting in the front seat of this car.
Until Muhammad Ali turns around and says, 'It's no trouble at all. We're just on our way to a bookstore to buy some Bibles and Qurans.'
Once the man gets over meeting the greatest of all time, he insists that he has three Bibles in his house and he'd be pleased to give them to Ali in appreciation for the ride. Ali thanks him but says he wants to pay for the Bibles. The man says, no, the Bibles were meant as a gift. Ali asked him what he does for a living and it turns out that the man had a stroke and he's been forced into retirement. Ali then tries to hand him a big pile of money for the Bibles.
But the man refuses and this is where things get interesting. Ali says, 'Take the money, man, I'm trying to get into heaven.' And the man replies, 'So am I.'
Ali is not taking 'no' for an answer. He says, 'If you don't take the money, I might not get in.' And the man replies, 'If I do take your money, I might not get in.'
They arrive at his home and the man invites him in to meet his wife of 30 years. He gives Ali the Bibles. Ali slips the money under a napkin on the kitchen table. They are about to leave and Hana gives the man her phone number and tells him to call her if he ever needs a ride home from church again.
Sitting in the car, Ali turns to his daughter and asks, 'Would you really go out of your way and pick him up, drive him all the way home?' And she says yes. And with tears in his eyes, he says, 'That's me in you.'
He says, 'You're on the road to heaven.'"
This was purchased as a gift for someone. I'm glad I didn't have it shipped directly.