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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

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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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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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A 3 for reading

I began Ali: A Life my interest being raised having just finished reading Being Jamall. I was thrilled to find not only did I follow his rise as a boxing great I was treated to a rich background of what it’s like to be black in America and choosing Islam as your faith. An extraordinary reading experisnce.

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The Greatest!!

What did you love best about Ali?

His love for all people and his sense of humor.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Ali, who else?

Which scene was your favorite?

Lighting the Olympic flame.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Yes. I both laughed and cried.

Any additional comments?

Extremely well written. And, extremely well read. Highly recommend.

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Great book.

I’ve learned some much about Muhammad Ali by listening to this book and all the knowledge I had prior to reading was enhanced. 5 stars.

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Inspiration

Well written Biography of my hero Muhammad Ali. One of the most in-depth books every written about “The Greatest”. I really, really enjoyed it. Finally, I grew in my Love, adoration and respect for one of the most important men in Global History.

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  • Ruth
  • Chicago, IL USA
  • 02-17-18

Fascinating and well-researched

This biography shows a more complete view of Muhammad Ali, both strengths and weaknesses. You learn a lot about the social context of Ali’s life: civil rights, the Nation of Islam, boxing culture, the casual and pervasive sexism. Very timely.

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  • Doc B
  • New Orleans, LA
  • 01-15-18

Great performance and biography

From start to finish this was a captivating biography. The author captured the life of only of the most interesting people to ever walk this earth.

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excellent book

this is an excellent book that not only speaks to the amazing life of Ali but also speaks to the trials and tribulations of America in the 1940s to present day. this book bridges the gap of understanding between the two sides and the man that wasn't afraid to call it as he seen it.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful