• The Murder of Sonny Liston

  • Las Vegas, Heroin, and Heavyweights
  • By: Shaun Assael
  • Narrated by: R.C. Bray
  • Length: 6 hrs and 42 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (94 ratings)

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The Murder of Sonny Liston

By: Shaun Assael
Narrated by: R.C. Bray
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Publisher's Summary

On January 5, 1971, Sonny Liston was found dead in his home - of an apparent heroin overdose. But no one close to Liston believed that his death was accidental. Digging deep into a life that Liston tried hard to hide, Shaun Assael treats the boxer's death as a cold case. The result is a riveting whodunit that evokes a glorious and grimy era of Las Vegas.

Elvis Presley was playing two shows a night at the International. Howard Hughes was running his empire from the penthouse suite of the Desert Inn. And Middle America was flocking to the Strip, transforming it from an exclusive playground for the mob to a mecca for corporate dollars. But the city was also rotting from within. Heroin was pouring over the border from Mexico, and the segregated Westside was on the cusp of a race war.

Driving through town with the top of his pink Cadillac down, Liston was the one celebrity who was unafraid to bridge the two sides of Las Vegas. Cashing in on his fading notoriety in the casinos, he was dealing drugs, working for a crime syndicate, and trying to break in to Hollywood - all with a boxer's faith that he could duck any threat, slip any punch. Heroin addiction was the only knockout blow he didn't see coming.

©2016 Shaun Assael (P)2016 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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What listeners say about The Murder of Sonny Liston

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great read

Very well written and narrated story. It’s got everything you need in a true life account of a twisted American tragedy.
Historically rich narrative of a particular time and place featuring dynamic individuals living the high life in and around the margins of polite society.
True crime history and sports nerds will not be disappointed.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A Boxing Legends Story

What an intriguing listen!! This case is shrouded in mystery. The narrating was excellent. This story is a real who done it.

1 person found this helpful

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Solid listen

Stumbled across this after finding out about Tyson , Ali and other fixing fights. While this is on Liston, I found this an interesting book. Well written and helps put together or discover other parts of the Champs story. Worth a credit if you're open to something different.

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    5 out of 5 stars

In this desert, every fool has a flashy story ...

... to peddle, especially junkies and journalists, oh yeah, and jailbirds, stool pigeons and ex-cops too. There is something about an empty desert and a Hollywood hype mentality that mixes into a strange folklore, always gluing sparkles onto a much more tawdry truth and selling it. This author is at the top of this food chain. Here he is a top story collector and teller, with a natural feel for the subject, and great turns of phrase. This tale goes down like cheap whiskey in a trashed motel room at 4 a.m., chasing down the last tatters of fleeing dreams. The narration is pitch-perfect for this whole noir jaunt. This is as listenable as it gets.

Now, if you have known these tale-spinning junkies and so on, you know it is mostly spun up like cotton candy, often out of a lot of nothing. This is a land of ghosts, dead or almost dead, bathed in garish neon. My own impression is, the most probable story that fits is usually closest to the facts. Here is an intriguing story, with its dark corridors and twists, with its wild and weird risk-takers dancing (or golfing) through, but it isn't the crazy insoluble maze of the JFK murder. As with any degenerate junkie who dies with a kit nearby, I reckon the core of the story is too simple: Sonny just plain overdosed in his bedroom. He skated on the edge, from nowhere to the heights, to a crumbling place, and finally tipped over it. But that shouldn't keep you from the best tour of late 60s-early 70s degenerate (and star-studded) Vegas you can imagine.

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Good story that keeps you wondering really happened.

It’s an interesting story of Sunny Liston before, during and after he was a fighter. You learn about the drug habit he had, drugs he sold, the shady individuals around him. I also like how it talks about about other people lives that Sunny was dealing with at the time. The performance of the reader was a little hard to comprehend. He’ll start on sentence or subject to switch to another without any difference in his tone. Overall interesting book leaving wondering what if.....

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Really great really sad story with a lot of period characters and color

for a guy who was heavyweight champion of the world, he didnt seem to have a whole lotta control over his life. i tore thru this book and found it more a lens through which you can look at a certain time and moment in america than just a true crime story--although it was certainly a good one of those too. its about the 60s and 70s in america, race relations, muhammed ali, boxing, the history of las vegas, the mafia, music, police corruption, the heroin trade and overall just a look back at the formative years of one of the most american of all americas cities: las vegas.

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Excellent!!

Great book. Well researched and well written. Finally a few doors are opening on the LVPD corruption. Sadly it hasn’t changed much today.

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Sonny

Overall was okay, however; I expected more substance and content about Sonny. Didn't need the Vegas rhetoric.

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The tragic last few

years of the World Champion Sonny Liston. A thug who never fit into the role that was put on him. This book chronicles the last few years of his life in Vegas. The unsolved mystery of his death. A great read.