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Publisher's Summary

The definitive biography of an American icon, from a New York Times best-selling author with unique access to Ali's inner circle

He was the wittiest, the prettiest, the strongest, the bravest, and, of course, the greatest (as he told us over and over again). Muhammad Ali was one of the 20th century's greatest radicals and most compelling figures. At his funeral in 2016, eulogists said Ali had transcended race and united the country, but they got it wrong. Race was the theme of Ali's life. He insisted that America come to grips with a black man who wasn't afraid to speak out or break the rules. He didn't overcome racism. He called it out. "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."

Ali went from being one of the most despised men in the country to one of the most beloved. 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, breaks new ground and radically reshapes our understanding of the slippery figure who was Muhammad Ali. Eig had access to all the key people in Ali's life, including his three surviving wives and his managers. He also had access to thousands of pages of new FBI and Justice Department files as well dozens of hours of newly discovered audiotaped interviews from the 1960s.

Jonathan Eig's Ali breaks bold new ground, revealing Ali in the complexity he deserves, shedding important new light on his politics and his neurological condition. Ali is a story about race, about a brutal sport, and about a fascinating man who shook up the world.

©2017 Jonathan Eig (P)2017 Recorded Books

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Left me Conflicted

Overall, I recommend this book to anyone.

And I say that never having followed (or, for that matter, been interested in, in the slightest] boxing

The language and story telling is clear; the story interesting; the narrator fine

BUT: ( a big but)

The longer it went on, the more I was struck by the contrast between the adulation that Ali produced, and the lifestyle which, absent the misplaced adoration we place on athletes, was really quite despicable in many ways. Yes, he was sometimes kind. Yes, he was a great [although arguably not THE GREATEST) boxer. But his behaviour lifestyle was almost 100% narcissistic, self absorbed, and hurtful to those who cared for him. He slept with constant women, often prostitutes, often teenagers, without any regard that the hurt this caused his first, second, and then third wife. He slept with women in the same hotel as his wife was staying, he slept with them in his own home when his children were on another floor. He didn't care. His own self-described lifestyle was "Wee! Me!!!". I guess such selfishness is excused if you're a good athlete. Despite earning over $50 million, he was in constant financial difficulties, something difficult to the stomach given how many millions of people don't even earn a percentile of that. His first wife was left in poverty,. his children competed for his attention with those who fawned over him.He thought being a father was too much of a restriction on his lifestyle. And on and on. Even the source of much of the adulation, his stand against racism, was inconsistent with calling Joe Frazier a "gorilla" or his use of the N-word with (on) him.

So the longer I listened, the greater the gap became between Ali the man and Ali the legend. The longer I listened, I thought the legend was without foundation.

I'm not saying this isn't a book worth buying. It is. It's an interesting story. I just didn't buy into the legend. Or, better put, the book reinforced that the "athlete as peacock" ( a phrase used in the book] is just that, peacock over a "real "human being

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The greatest

This is one of my favorites reads this year. I’ve wanted to read about Ali since he passed away and I’m so glad I waited for this book. It’s well researched and covers Ali’s entire life and career. It doesn’t gloss over his faults or shy away from the controversaries. I think I would have enjoyed this as a book, but what really made it enjoyable was the narrator. He did a fantastic job of capturing the excitement around each fight and he brought Ali to life with his cadence when quoting Ali’s famous rhymes. Highly recommend this on audio. Well worth the time investment.
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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A complex person

This book fills out Ali very well and it is one of the best read books on Audible in my opinion. He was far from a perfect person but still extraordinarily larger than life.

He was extraordinarily boastful at the same time very humble, such a contrast in one person.

He could be very cruel to his opponents and to his wives but also very kind.

He was very simple and childish about practical worldly and financial matters but in other ways very principled and correct like a great sage.

He was a man of the 60s and 70s, profligate in his sexual exploits and casually sexist.

I had to pause and take two days off at certain points in the book. I could not stand how he was being exploited by people around him, notably Don King and Herbert Mohammed and how he continued to subject himself to head blows even after it was clear that he was deteriorating neurologically and the same crew of exploiters encouraged this incapacitated man to take on more fights.

I highly recommend this book.

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    3 out of 5 stars

A very complete telling of Ali’s life.

This is a cradle to the grave retelling of one of the greatest Americans to live in the 20th century. The author meticulously recounts every fight in Ali‘s career both inside and outside the ring. It doesn’t sugarcoat his bad deeds or make Metz out of the man which is refreshing. But you do come away humbled by his grace as he aged. My biggest complaint about this audiobook is the fact that the reader Kevin free mispronounces som it doesn’t sugarcoat his bad deeds or make Metz out of the man which is refreshing. But you do come away humbled by his grace as he aged. My biggest complaint about this audiobook is the fact that the reader Kevin free mispronounces more than one name in the retelling of Ali’s life story. For instance he whiffed on the pronunciation of Lyle Alzado, I name even a casual sports fan should be familiar with.

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wonderfully read!

Inspiring story of an amazing life! A person flawed and beautiful and there will never be another like Muhammed Ali! I enjoyed that the book was very detailed and was sad for it to end!

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  • Ex
  • 10-09-18

illuminating and doesn't pull punches

all told. this is a slightly negative assessment of Ali, making clear all his faults and mistakes and missteps - I say this in the book's favor. he's a far far more complicated and complex person than I previously thought.

good performance as well.

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Truly One Of The Best Sports Biographies!!

I recently joined the Amazon Audio Book Club..This was my first read!! I took it to the gym daily... and I must admit...this fascinating book had me anxious to return every day! I have read several books on Muhammad Ali, but, THIS book FAR surpasses Any of the other reads! I was impressed by the authors descriptions of the actual bouts...I am a huge Ali fan, and I have seen all of the fights..I could literally see the fights once again, thanks to the author!! Muhammad Ali was not only the Greatest Heavyweight Champion, but, truly one of the top ten MOST important people of our past century!! The narrator is TOPS!! I just KNOW I am going to be let down on my next audio book, it can never live up to this one!! A MUST READ!!!

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On point Biography

A thoughtful and wonderfully detailed description of a Legend I I'm glad I know better now!

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  • JF
  • 08-06-18

Great Book

Great book which provides a unique insight into the Champ. Well worth a credit. Enjoy!

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Comprehensive, compelling, inspiring.

The story of Ali is inspiring as a self made man and renowned boxer; the struggle with money and marriage was fairly presented; the fight scenes breathtaking. Well worth the read.