Ali knocked me out! Like a multifaceted diamond, complex and fascinating, Ali shines as the greatest and prettiest. Adored or hated, this rebel was champion of the world.
Superb writing brings to life his early history, the fights, the women in his life, religion, and travels. Excellent! Recommended By Adrienne C., Powells.com
Jonathan Eig had incredible access both to enormous amounts of new material (including interviews and FBI files) and to the most important people in Muhammad Ali's life. His diligent research has produced this fascinating, readable, and definitive biography of Ali, which might change your understanding of one of the most absorbing figures in sports history. Recommended By Matt K. , Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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 himself). Muhammad Ali was one of the twentieth century’s most fantastic figures and arguably the most famous man on the planet.
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, radically reshapes our understanding of the complicated man who was Ali. Eig had access to all the key people in Ali’s life, including his three surviving wives and his managers. He conducted more than 500 interviews and uncovered thousands of pages of previously unreleased FBI and Justice Department files, as well dozens of hours of newly discovered audiotaped interviews from the 1960s. Collectively, they tell Ali’s story like never before — the story of a man who was flawed and uncertain and brave beyond belief.
"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."
He was born Cassius Clay in racially segregated Louisville, Kentucky, the son of a sign painter and a housekeeper. He went on to become a heavyweight boxer with a dazzling mix of power and speed, a warrior for racial pride, a comedian, a preacher, a poet, a draft resister, an actor, and a lover. Millions hated him when he changed his religion, changed his name, and refused to fight in the Vietnam War. He fought his way back, winning hearts, but at great cost. Like so many boxers, he stayed too long.
Jonathan Eig’s Ali reveals Ali in the complexity he deserves, shedding important new light on his politics, religion, personal life, and neurological condition. Ali is a story about America, about race, about a brutal sport, and about a courageous man who shook up the world.
"Jonathan Eig’s Ali: A Life is the first comprehensive biography worthy of this titanic figure. The author of acclaimed books on Lou Gehrig and Jackie Robinson, Eig weaves together Ali’s athletic feats, cultural significance and personal journey. Fortified by hundreds of revealing interviews, Ali vigorously narrates the story of the man who transformed the landscape of race and sports...Eig paints Ali’s bouts with vivid detail and captivating sweep...Ali stirs together the sweet and the spicy, the gifts and the failings, the charm and the rage, the grace and the greed, the pride and the ego. Together, they made Ali the transcendent athlete of his age." Washington Post
"Finally, after so many works focusing on this fight or that, the whole man, the whole life, is presented here. And what a revelation it is — to be able to see how this remarkable man was shaped by his world, and how that world was, in turn, profoundly influenced by this exceptional and complicated kid from Louisville. Bravo!" Ken Burns
"Some people want to grow up to be an astronaut. Or maybe even president. Or heavyweight champion of the world. I always wanted to be a storyteller. The hardest story to tell is one that’s been told and told well before. In Ali, Jonathan Eig, a fearless reporter, as relentless on his turf as Muhammad Ali ever was within the ring, has taken on one of 20th century America’s biggest, baddest, most important stories and told it bigger and badder than it’s ever been told before. Ali: A Life floats like a butterfly and stings likes a bee. Stop the fight. It’s over. Eig in a knockout." Jane Leavy, author of Sandy Koufax and The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood
"Finally Muhammad Ali has a biography as big, complex, and memorable as the man himself — or as close as any book can come. From panoramic views of Ali's place in racial, political, and cultural conflicts, to gripping accounts of his fights, to vivid close-ups of his outsized personality and relationships based on new sources, Ali will fascinate you from beginning to end." T.J. Stiles, author of Custer's Trials and The First Tycoon
About the Author
Jonathan Eig is the author of four critically acclaimed books, two of them New York Times bestsellers. He was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Monsey, New York. Eig is a former staff writer for the Wall Street Journal, and he remains a contributing writer there. He has written for the New York Times, The New Yorker, Esquire, the Washington Post, and other publications. He has appeared on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and in two Kens Burns films for PBS. He is currently working with Burns to develop a documentary on Muhammad Ali. He lives in Chicago, IL.