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King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Heroby David Remnick
Synopses & Reviews
There were mythic sports figures before him--Jack Johnson, Babe Ruth, Joe Louis, Joe DiMaggio--but when Cassius Clay burst onto the sports scene from his native Louisville in the 1950s, he broke the mold. He changed the world of sports and went on to change the world itself. As Muhammad Ali, he would become the most recognized face on the planet. Ali was a transcendent athlete and entertainer, a heavyweight Fred Astaire, a rapper before rap was born. He was a mirror of his era, a dynamic figure in the racial and cultural battles of his time. This unforgettable story of his rise and self-creation, told by a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, places Ali in a heritage of great American originals.
Cassius Clay grew up in the Jim Crow South and came of athletic age when boxers were at the mercy of the mob. From the start, Clay rebelled against everything and everyone who would keep him and his people down. He refused the old stereotypes and refused the glad hand of the mob. And, to the confusion and fury of white sportswriters, who were far more comfortable with the self-effacing Joe Louis, Clay came forward as a rebel, insistent on his political views, on his new religion, and, eventually, on a new name. His rebellion nearly cost him the chance to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world.
King of the World features some of the pivotal figures of the 1960s--Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, John F. Kennedy--and its pivotal events: the civil rights movement, political assassinations, the war in Vietnam. Muhammad Ali is a great hero and a beloved figure in American life. King of the World takes us back to the days when his life was a series of battles, inside the ring and out. A master storyteller at the height of his powers, David Remnick has written a book worthy of America's most dynamic modern hero.
There had been mythic sports figures before Cassius Clay — Jack Johnson, Babe Ruth, Joe Di Maggio, Joe Louis — but when the young Cassius Clay burst upon the sports scene from his native Louisville in the 1950s, he broke the mold. Those were the years when boxing and boxers were at the mercy of the mob and the whim of the sportswriters. If you wanted a shot at a title, you did it their way. Young Clay did it his way — with little more than an Olympic gold medal to his credit, he danced into Sonny Liston's baleful view and provoked the terrifying champ into accepting him as his next challenger. The rest is history.
Mohammad Ali has become a mythic hero, an American icon, a self-invented legend to stand beside Paul Bunyan, Huckleberry Finn, and Buffalo Bill. As both a mirror and a molder of his times. All became the most recognizable face on the planet, the singular fighter inside the ring, and a key figure in the racial and cultural battles outside. This is the story of his self-creation, told by a master story teller in a book that will itself become a permanent part of our national mythology.
About the Author
David Remnick is the editor of The New Yorker. He began his career as a sportswriter for The Washington Post and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for Lenin's Tomb. He is also the author of Resurrection and The Devil Problem and Other True Stories, a collection of essays. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.
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