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The Fight (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 27 Jul 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (27 July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141184140
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141184142
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 44,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Entertaining... Mailer continues his familiar shadow-boxing with the ineffable." -- Time In 1975 in Kinshasa, Zaire, at the virtual center of Africa, two African American boxers were paid five million dollars apiece to fight each other until one was declared winner. One was Muhammad Ali, the aging but irrepressible "professor of boxing" who vowed to reclaim the championship he had lost. The other was George Foreman, who was as taciturn as Ali was voluble and who kept his hands in his pockets "the way a hunter lays his rifle back into its velvet case." Observing them was Norman Mailer, whose grasp of the titanic battle's feints and stratagems -- and whose sensitivity to their deeper symbolism -- make this book a masterpiece of the literature of sport. Whether he is analyzing the fighters' moves, interpreting their characters, or weighing their competing claims on the African and American souls, Mailer is a commentator of unparalleled energy, acumen, and audacity -- and su

About the Author

Norman Mailer was born in 1923 and went to Harvard when he was sixteen. He majored in engineering, but it was while he was at university that he became interested in writing; he published his first story when he was eighteen. He was winner of the National Book Award for Arts and Letters in 1969 and of the Pulitzer Prize twice, once in 1969 and again in 1980. Norman Mailer was married six times and had nine children. He died in November 2007. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Aug. 1999
Format: Paperback
Anyone who has witnessed this greatest of fights and knows something of the build-up to this epic encounter will revel in this book. I found Mailers style as hard as Foremans head in the first few chapters, but stick at it, the rewards are there as the tension grows. Mailers description of the mood of each camp is the real gem, gradually building up to a titanic conclusion. Im not really a boxing fan, but I am fasinated by the whole Rumble in the Jungle saga. Read it before watching the fight.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By oto_jo on 29 Sept. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been planning to try a Norman Mailer book for quite a while and I thought this might be interesting. It wasn't and the conclusion is never, ever again. Within pages I was skim-reading and by about page 30 I gave up. Not sure what I thought about Ali, but I did reckon I had read enough about Mailer, despite his coy way of indirectly mentioning himself. There were potential flashes of insight about Ali, and Kinshasa but no real interest on the part of the author whose focus never really drifted from himself in the pages that I got through. I decided, life was too short to spend struggling through this book!
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By L on 14 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
Although Mailer's 3rd person treatment of himself is clearly the product of an explosive and gluttonous ego, it does, in parts, allow him to also speak about himself with more honesty and insight than the fragile nature of self-opinion often allows.

So although many reviewers are giving him a hard time for this it should be remembered that any type of writing which challenges the norm and provides a novel way of storytelling must have some inherent value. Even if you don't particularly warm to it - although personally I found it interesting and unobtrusive - then at least it will have provided a break from the 'traditional' way of narration.

As this was essentially a sports book I didn't want to devote to much time to the more philosophical sections which are interspersed throughout the story. Because of my lack of effort I can't fairly criticize these sections; I found them to be vague and unengaging but quite possibly with a bit more concentration their value would have been revealed.

Philosophy aside the book was skillfully crafted with some unique and intelligent use of language. Although this was my first Mailer book, his idiosyncracies reminded me of Amis (Martin) in their salience compared to many authors. Mailer give some great insights into boxing life which are only available to someone who enjoyed such proximity to the two fighters; however the book also seems to spend a little too long in building up to the fight. In the three days it took to read the book, two were spent reaching October 30th, whilst only one was spent consuming the actual fight. The prelude was not unenjoyable but certainly more inconsistent that the final third was.
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By Treefingers on 19 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
This was the first Norman Mailer book I read, and as such did not really know what to expect. It is certainly clear right from the start that he has a very keen eye on the sport. His description of the fight is like no other you will ever read or see, and thus would recommend this book to any fan of boxing or even sport in general.

Once you reach the fight itself, this is a gripping read.

There is also some very interesting insights into the characters and personalities on the scene, like Drew 'Bundini' Brown in Ali's corner who provides much amusement with his 'tête à têtes' with Forman's crew in the hotel lobby. You will also not see a better portrait of Don King in all the years since this was written. I also felt the portrayal of Ali interesting - rather than merely hero-worshiping him, the book deconstructs some of the myth which had grown up around him.

It would be wrong to say that this is simply a book about the fight, however. It would be better described as Norman Mailer's trip to Africa for the fight. Somewhat irritatingly, he writes himself a starring role in this story, and refers to himself in the third person throughout. For me at least, this device only serves to add to Mailer's clearly excessive ego, and is wholly unnecessary for the story itself. In fact, I am only giving this 4 stars instead of 5 because it annoyed me so much.

In short - this is definitely worth a read, but try to tune out for Mailer's constant egotistical and 'philosophical' ramblings as much as you can.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Timothy De Ferrars on 12 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Fight is a vivid account of the 1974 world heavyweight boxing match in Zaire, billed as The Rumble in the Jungle, between George Foreman and Mohammad Ali. Mailer writes about Africa with more than a nod to Joseph Conrad, and writes about boxing with all the sweep and authority that Hemingway showed on bullfighting, but this book is about more than boxing. Mailer, a white Jew from New York, confronts his prejudices about blacks and about Africa, and while this seems less than remarkable now, it is easy to forget that mild racism was not only normal then among English-speaking whites, but was in fact the received wisdom of the time. This book was therefore a work of some courage and risk for a writer of Norman Mailer's stature.

The use of the third person to describe the author is strange at first, and it seems possible that Mailer's ego might overshadow even the monstrous ego of Ali. But what emerges is more sensitive than that. Ali is portrayed as an aging prodigy tortured by doubt and surrounded by a retinue of oddballs, and Mailer succeeds in first isolating and then overcoming his buried prejudice and superstition.

This is a powerful and at times moving book, and I would recommend it to all, including those who are uninterested or even repelled by the sport of boxing.
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