King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero

David Remnick

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King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero

King of the World Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero 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 s he broke the mol

  • Title: King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero
  • Author: David Remnick
  • ISBN: 9780330371896
  • Page: 203
  • Format: Paperback
  • 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 athThere 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 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.

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    One thought on “King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero

    1. Darwin8u on said:

      "It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up."-- Muhammad AliPre-Review Smack Talk:I will review this sucker tomorrow. David Remnick better quake. I'm coming for this book. I read it from cover to cover. I know the words better than Remnick could hope to ever know it. Of course he wrote it, because the words ran from him. I know Remick's words better than his mamma knows him. Tomorrow. Yes. I'll give this book till tomorrow. And then I'm coming. I'm coming wit [...]

    2. Steve Kettmann on said:

      My S.F. Chronicle review from 1998:David Remnick deserves a nod of thanks for, among other things, helping us associate the words ``King of the World'' with something other than a pop movie director so awash in Oscar-night self-congratulation that he seemed intent on drawing sniper fire. Remnick, who is editor of the New Yorker, is a writer to watch, and he and the greatest sports figure of the century are an excellent match. Some will complain that this compact study of Cassius Clay's evolution [...]

    3. Sean Wilson on said:

      This is my first David Remnick book and it certainly won't be my last. He writes with such fluidity and clear vision that every page is a delight to read.This isn't really a pure biography on Muhammad Ali, rather, it is an insight into his early years leading to his championship fight (and rematch) with Sonny Liston, his conversion to Islam, his match against Floyd Patterson and his views on the Vietnam war and eventual refusal to be drafted by the Army. Amongst all of this is also a fantastic h [...]

    4. Thomas on said:

      majority of this book deals with the timeframe between Cassuis Clay's first heavyweight title fight against Sonny Liston, and the rematch between Liston and (now) Muhammad Ali. an instructive window into a time before Ali was an internationally-known sports icon, and before his refusal to be inducted into the US Army.well-written, and an interesting window into a time BEFORE Ali was the most polarizing figure in sports. the evolution from being just a talented black boxer to racial lightening ro [...]

    5. Samuel Bae on said:

      David Remnick's King of the World, tells the story of Cassius Clay, a boxing legend also known as Muhammad Ali, who faces America's segregated society and boxing politics while trying his best to become the greatest boxing champion of all time. The book is set in the U.S. during the mid and late 20th century, where the colored stand separated from the whites and boxing is a very popular source of entertainment. Surrounded by many problems, Muhammad Ali continued his path to be the greatest boxer [...]

    6. Steven Kent on said:

      Oh man did I love this book!This book is the story of the rivalry between Ali and Sonny Liston. Yeah, yeah, everyone says it is about Ali because everyone idolizes Ali; but Liston gets equal treatment here.So here's the deal. Today everyone talks as if they have always loved Ali, but back in the sixties, his Muslim beliefs scared people and his outspoken ways led many to hate him.Then there was Sonny Liston, cold, menacing, the man with the largest hands of any heavyweight champion. Liston had k [...]

    7. Carol Storm on said:

      Beautiful, thoughtful, vibrant, dynamic -- this is a biography truly worthy of its subject!

    8. Eric_W on said:

      David Remnick is perhaps best known for his award-winning work on Russia since the collapse of Communism (Lenin's Tomb and Resurrection: The Struggle for a New Russia). His most recent book deals with Cassius Clay and his transformation into Mohammed Ali. "Boxing in America was born of slavery." Southern plantation owners would often pit their strongest slaves against each other, sometimes to near death. Frederick Douglass objected to the sport because he believed it "muffled the spirit of insur [...]

    9. Patrick on said:

      A superb biography and history by a masterful writer. This book has been described as a biography of Muhammad Ali, but it's really much more than that. Actually, it's a story about how three men (Sonny Liston, Floyd Patterson, and Cassius Clay who renamed himself Muhammad Ali) all responded in different ways to the identity choices African Americans faced as a result of the simultaneous civil rights and the black nationalist movements in the early 1960's. At times this book reads more like an ad [...]

    10. Mitchell on said:

      Wow, this has to be one of my favorite all-time sports biographies. The prose is pure butter: elegant, but also smooth and riveting. One does not need to be knowledgeable about the sport of boxing, nor a particular fan of boxing, to find this book entertaining and enlightening.This book covers Ali's childhood through his Patterson/Liston fights. The book starts out by describing Patterson's and Liston's tough childhoods, and their rise to fame in the chaotic boxing world. Both of these opponents [...]

    11. Marc on said:

      While Muhammad Ali is the main focus, this lively book is in effect a triple biography of the three dominant heavyweight boxers of the first half of the 1960s: Ali, Floyd Patterson, and Sonny Liston, each of whom fought the other two once or twice between 1961 and 1965. The first quarter of the book focuses on Patterson and Liston, their backgrounds, key events in their lives, and detailed accounts of their two matches, in 1962 and 1963. Then Ali arrives on the scene, and the narrative really pi [...]

    12. Sam on said:

      This book tells Ali's story mostly from his middle-class childhood in Louisville through his refusal to fight for the US in Vietnam, and also brushes briefly over what happened later in his life, and the physical and mental toll his boxing took on him. It gives a complex picture, repeating and examining the legends and also recalling some of Ali's troubling beliefs. "A black man should be killed if he's messing with a white woman," he once said, according to this book. Remnick's writing is clean [...]

    13. heidipj on said:

      I'm not a fan of boxing. But I guess I got sick of being in the pub and listening to men go on and on about about Muhammad Bloody Ali for hours. I mean all he did was biff people right? Err no. I was probably lucky in picking up this book. There are probably a dozen biographies about Ali but this one is fabulous, I could hardly put it down. Did I mention that I wasn't a fan of boxing. I'm still not. But I'm now definitely a fan of Muhammad Ali. He is beautiful, he is a legend and he has helped s [...]

    14. Bobby Bermea on said:

      Entertaining, engrossing and refreshingly grounded in the humanity of not just Ali, but also Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston. So much has been written about Ali, there's a lot of ground that simply does not need to be covered again. By focusing his book on a specific moment in a blossoming myth, Remnick, with simple, elegant prose, paints a picture of a time and a hero and makes it clear that both would be very different without the other.

    15. Jennifer on said:

      I am not really into sports but this book is really about one of America's most important historical figures. Ali was a testament to determination and self-preservation. Loved it.

    16. Paul Billy-Bong-Gong on said:

      its not what you did its the way you did it. like the way he writes, intwinned with my way of thinking. whatever that says.

    17. Kyle Crosby on said:

      *No Spoilers* Character(s): Cassius Clay/Mohammad Ali=5. Remnick does an excellent job describing Mohammad's character in every little detail."He was beautiful again. He was fast,sleek,and twenty-two"(Remnick 20) this exemplify's Mohammad's image during his first fight and how he was at his prime. Mohammad Ali is one of my greatest role models so of course his character is the best. He stays true to himself all throughout his life; he never once doubts himself and believes from day one that he w [...]

    18. Andrew Martin on said:

      Follows Ali's early career up through the Liston and Patterson fights, stopping with Vietnam and the draft. Along the way we're treated to first-rate capsule biographies of Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston. It is really a shame that we don't get book-length Remnick any more - the guy is a professional.I'm not really sure how a book-length treatment of Ali ends up leaving out all the Frazier fights (the Fight of the Century? Thrilla in Manilla?) and the Foreman fight (Rumble in the Jungle? - I me [...]

    19. Monica on said:

      Remnick is a wonderful storyteller. This book is about the early years of Cassius Clay and his transition to Muhammed Ali. It tells the story of boxing prior to Ali and his early impact. Prior to Ali, organized crime had quite a grip on boxing. The story ends at Ali refusing to be drafted. This tale is also about racial inequality and one talented, handsome young athlete who found himself in a unique position to successfully rattle the status quo in boxing and in America. Too young to "know his [...]

    20. Rick on said:

      One of the best books I've read on boxing and on one of my personal heroes, Muhammad Ali. Oddly, although written rather recently, the book covers a very short time frame in Ali's career - namely the time between his winning the gold medal at the Olympics and his being stripped of the heavyweight title for refusing to serve in the Army. If you don't know the story of Cassius Clay and his rise to fame as the black Muslim Muhammad Ali (and too many people don't), then this book is an awesome place [...]

    21. David Hollingsworth on said:

      This book isn't a normal biography. It gives you the story of Muhammad Ali, but also gives you the story of the two previous heavyweight champions before him and puts them into the historical, cultural, and sociological context of their time and place in boxing history. It reads like a case study almost as much as it does a narrative.The writing itself is very well done. Remnick has a talent for balancing personal drama, social dynamics, and historical narratives to create a book that is as enga [...]

    22. Mark Desrosiers on said:

      Unfortunately, there isn't very much information here that you haven't already read in Thomas Hauser's Ali biography or (even better) Nick Tosches' The Devil and Sonny Liston. Remnick's mastery of post-journalese narrative does make the book a decent, quick read. But I grimaced every time Remnick deliberately tried to take Ali down a peg or two (ha ha ha Cassius Clay buying a parachute on the plane trip to Rome; for shame, Ali was a total womanizer). Not that I think Ali is beyond criticism: it' [...]

    23. Tom Gase on said:

      Really well researched book by David Remnick on Muhammad Ali and his rise to fame as Cassius Clay and his first fight against Sonny Liston. This book, unlike what I thought, does not focus on Ali's entire life, but instead just a period from 1960 to around 1966. The main focus is Ali's two fights with Liston (one as Clay) including the second fight that features possibly the best photograph of the last century in sports (trust me, you've seen it). My problem with the book is it takes a little to [...]

    24. Evanston PublicLibrary on said:

      Remnick opens the story on February 25, 1964, when Muhammad Ali was twenty-two and about to face the fierce heavyweight champion Sonny Liston: "for the first and last time in his life, [Ali] was afraid." It's a shrewd distillation of a historic moment. Not many expected Ali to win--just as not many expected him to become arguably the dominant personality of late twentieth-century America.In his youth, Ali [then Cassius Clay] wasn't out to show the world "a new kind of black man," but Remnick pow [...]

    25. haetmonger on said:

      a good, quick read. remnick's writing style has changed since he wrote this in '98 -- it feels like a more novelistic at parts than the stuff in the bridge and his more recent stuff in the new yorker, but that worked just for fine me point of interest for others who have read the book: remnick insists that ali wrote much of his trademark doggerel by himself, including a 32-liner called "song of myself". this seemed unlikely to me (the whitman reference was a pretty good tip-off), and some quick [...]

    26. Inry on said:

      I recently read Ali one of the best boxers that ever lived. This book was a really good book because it talks about Ali’s whole life, how he started fighting and how he goes through hard times. Ali was one of the best boxers that ever lived that’s one of the reasons why I life this book. Its hard to believe that he won all those fights in his whole career he only lost 3 fights out of like fifty or more fight and most of them were all ko’s. It incredible how much money he won over his it ti [...]

    27. Paula on said:

      Most of you know I love sports. I was never into boxing but always curious. There are a ton of Ali bios out there but I chose this one for two reasons:First, David Remnick is a fabulous writer--hence the Pulitzer. But secondly, his talent with this book really lies within the way he approaches the athlete. You'd be surprised that the first couple chapters are not about Ali at all. In fact, he is hardly mentioned in the entire first section. Instead, the chapters are devoted to other key boxers d [...]

    28. Saf on said:

      Focusses around the two fights Ali fought against Sonny Liston but the scope of this book is wide enough that all the other issues of the time are tackled too. Remnick does a good job of placing the reader in the time and place when boxing and historic events intertwined and the resulting narrative is informative, intelligent and entertaining.(Blah, blah that sounds too serious.) If you know nothing about boxing or Ali this is a probably a good place to start as it exposes the racism, hatred, co [...]

    29. Caitlin on said:

      I liked this more for the picture it paints of the boxing world and african american history than out of any admiration for muhammad ali. Remnick starts by telling the stories of Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston, and how the press depicted them as good negro/bad negroing the scene for the explosive appearance of Ali. The discussion of civil rights, african american history, the role of the sports press and Ali's embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood are all fascinating. Oh, and the mob's control of [...]

    30. Sarah Sammis on said:

      I've never watched a boxing match but as a child I knew who Muhammad Ali was. Having read The Autobiography of Malcolm X last year King of the World by David Remnick seemed like a logical follow-up.King of the World chronicles the first few years of Cassius Clay's boxing career, his conversion to Islam, his rocky marriage (and divorce) to Sonji Roi. Remnick divides his time among describing the boxing matches, Clay's personal life, the political atmosphere and his friendship with Malcolm X.Boxin [...]

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