on 26 August 2008
There are many biographies written on Muhammed Ali. Why would you only consider buying this? because almost all of the book (over 500 pages) contains quotes from either the "greatest" himself or from those directly associated with him.
Through the many different people that have been affected by Ali, they give their own accounts of who he was and what he had done to their lives, and their views of how he affected others.
Reading this, I began to understand the times in which he lived and the choices he made - what impact it had on people from all walks of life. Any celebrity is only known for what they are famous for. This book will make you appreciate why Ali has the love of the world.
Written with Ali's cooperation and with extensive interviews with figures associated with his life `Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times' makes for an in-depth and engrossing read. Each chapter is made up of many brief comments and stories as related by the people interviewed and Hauser links them all with connecting passages that clarifies certain points and guides the narrative. I was a little worried that the flow would be stilted and slow as a result, but if anything this book was the complete opposite and I flew through it in no time at all. It is exceptionally easy to read. This looks at most aspects of Ali's life and on the whole is complimentary, although it doesn't shy away from looking at all aspects of his character, good or bad. The sections looking at his early career and involvement in the civil rights movement was particularly fascinating and the descriptions of his various fights was exciting to read. It was also sad to read of Ali's exploitation by 'friends' and business associates during his career which I wasn't aware of before I started this book. There are three photo sections in this book with add to the overall package and show Ali in more quiet and tender moments with his family. Ali allows his medical records to be used for this book, as well as giving access to himself and members of his family and it is interesting to see what his daughter thought when seeing her father fight in the ring. You may not agree with all of Ali's beliefs or ideas, but you can't fault his integrity to them. If you have even a passing interest in boxing or Ali then this book comes highly recommended and it makes for an informative read about an intriguing and inspirational man.
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on 2 February 2004
First published in 1991, Thomas Hauser's extraordinary biography
preceded the so-called "Renaissance" of Muhammad Ali that followed his torch-lighting appearance at the Olympic Games in 1996. Since then, an army of books have jumped into publication
aiming to capture the 'true' Ali. Constant revisioning
of Ali's life and his influential presence in the world today
means that journalists across the world always have something to
write about when discussing or debating the importance of the man who is now affirmed by millions as "The Greatest".
Yet, Hauser's book remains for many the definitive account of the story of Muhammad Ali - a deep, complex and inspiring account of an undoubtedly deep, complex and inspiring man, peeling off the myth and gloss of Ali's "autobiography"
THE GREATEST which (along with the subsequent film) has been
largely criticised over the years for presenting a fictionalized
and 'saintly' image of Ali.
Hauser does not fall into the trap of saint-making; we read about Ali's rejection of Malcolm X, his torture of Patterson and
Terrell, his "bullying" of Frazier. We also read of a man who is a paradox: a man who stood up to the U.S. Government, sacrificed his title and faced the angst of America at a time when public figures like were being picked off one by one, yet
was manipulated and abused by those closest to him to the extent that his finances and ultimately physical health was almost sapped.
Yet, it is a credit to Hauser that in spite of his avoidance of saint-making the reader comes away seeing exactly why he (and now most of the world) recognise him as "The Greatest".
A fighter of incredible physical ability and mental strength,
who gained a life-time ambition but sacrificied it when he was
at the peak of his powers, and against all the odds when he was
regarded as the emblem of a bygone era. And yet, in both times of injustice and joy, was always ready to make people laugh,
encourage to believe in themselves and to teach them about the
important things in life.
on 17 August 2007
This is a weighty and worthwhile biography. The research is superb and the quotes from those around Ali highly entertaining and insightful. The anecdotes are interesting and amusing.
Anyone with any vague interest in either boxing, success, showbiz, politics or American history will love this book.
on 4 January 2008
As the title to this review suggests, the research behind this biography is mightily impressive. A great way to get the measure of the man, by taking accounts from various people from Ali's massive (understatement) entourage on events big and small through his life and boxing career.
If you view Ali with wonderment then this book will not only reinforce that view, it will leave you feeling as though you actually know the man yourself. You'll laugh and smile at the much publicised poems and fight predictions that were his trademark, but you also find that this great sporting and social hero was at times ruthlessly exploited, with his so called friends taking liberties with his generosity.
on 29 January 2014
''I'm expected to go overseas to help free people in South Vietnam, and at the same time my people here are being brutalized and mistreated, and this is really the same thing that's happening over in Vietnam. So I'm going to fight it legally, and if I lose, I'm just going to jail. Whatever the punishment, whatever the prosecution is for standing up for my beliefs [...].''
Never short of a suave, sparkling sentence or two, it goes without saying that the greatest fighter ever, Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali, wowed audiences in a plethora of arenas - both inside as well as outside the ring. For apart from being a stupendous boxer, he was nigh irresistible to (obviously) watch and (curiously) listen to.
The above quotation being not only a perfect example, but a mere tiny tip of the literary iceberg contained within these 516 pages.
To be sure, Muhammad Ali - His Life and Times - which has been described by The Times as: ''A superb book; hilarious, sad, moving and hopeful'' - ticks an array of boxes so far as a really good and fulfilling read is concerned. As it is indeed, sad, moving and hopeful. But like Ali himself, the book is also in your face, somewhat monumental and rather provocative; much to the credit of its author, Thomas Hauser, which ought hardly be surprising, as apart from being a Pulitzer Prize nominee, Hauser has written a number of books (among them: The Black Lights: Inside the World of Professional Boxing, Brutal Artistry and Mark Twain Remembers).
Admittedly however, some of the more idiosyncratically entertaining writing, was already written for him by Clay himself. All the author had to do was chronologically indulge his labour of love, and capture the full essence of a man to whom the title, 'bigger than life,' surely belongs and was surely never more warranted.
For instance, I found the opening gambit of this review in the seventh chapter, 'Exile,' which alone, is far more stimulating than a menagerie of entire books I've recently read. Reason being, a mere seven paragraphs later, Hausen once again quotes Ali on the subject of hate: ''I don't hate nobody and I ain't lynched nobody. We Muslims don't hate the white man. It's like we don't hate a tiger; but we know that a tiger's nature is not compatible with people's nature since tigers love to eat people. So we don't want to live with the tigers. It's the same with the white man. The white race attacks black people. They don't ask what's our religion, what's our belief? They just start whupping heads. They don't ask you, are you Catholic, are you a Baptist, are you a Black Muslim, are you a Martin Luther King follower, are you with Whitney Young? They just go whoop, whoop, whoop! So we don't want to live with the white man; that's all.''
Muhammad Ali - His Life and Times will undoubtedly appeal to the entire boxing fraternity; although there's absolutely no reason whatsoever, why it ought not also appeal to those to whom boxing means very little. Or next to nothing. Just one reason being, the subject's outspoken humanity.
What John Lennon endeavoured to attain for world peace, Muhammad Ali at least tried to attain for Black Human Rights (alongside many other issues). If nothing else, Ali believed - which to my mind, surely places him alongside the likes of Martin Luther King and South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
on 12 November 2013
I bought the book in an attempt to understand Ali's influence on the Nation of Islam movement in the US. His role as a Muslim hero among the Muslim population outside US was never in question. Most non-US Muslims are not aware that Nation of Islam has its own prophets which is blasphemous notion among traditional Muslims.
Cassius Clay's conversion to Muhammad Ali is covered in great detail. The style does become cumbersome sometime as the book reads like a long traps script of a documentary. There are even video links of interviews given in the book. Cassius gravitated towards Malcolm because of the strong message of self love, which is pretty common among most GOAT (greatest of all time) sports people. The other strong attraction was the confrontational narrative which must sound so familiar to Cassius as well. No wonder he wasn't attracted to the other black civil rights activist Martin Luther King as he must have sounded rather pliant in comparison. One definite advantage of the style used in the book is that I did feel like living in the 1960's America because the language was maintained.
What did the conversion do for Ali, as he must have gotten something out of this conversion himself? Well for me he became a lot more clearer and focussed as the core message of NOI (Nation of Islam) is about segregating from the white race by defining a new black profile, complete with their own religion, separate God, firm belief in self-love even down to the new name. For the new Muslim name broke their link with the original slave masters. In Ali all of NOI core fundamental values were realised as a living breathing ideal.
Trouble is that the same galvanizing message for self conscious blacks which worked so perfectly for Ali in the beginning, also started to cramp his progression as the message was only divisive in nature. In order to really progress he had to forgive his White tormentors which the NOI teaching squarely rejected outright. Mainstream Islam does not have the same issue on the racial level at least and therefore the Islamic brotherhood proudly accepts all colours. Unfortunately the same hospitality is not accorded to people belonging to other religions.
Ali Bomaye (Ali Kill him).
I love the way all the fights are build up and described by the author. Ali was the complete fighter, both verbally and strategically inside the ring. The author has not rushed or cut corners with the interviews, which seems out of deep respect to the legend. The legend who transcended his sport to become a symbol of love. Ali had a similar effect to what Tiger Woods had on the US stock market years after, only Ali's lifted the spirits of people all over the world each time he fought.
By the end of the book, a hero emerges. A hero who doesn't have to be either the brightest or the strongest nor the most sophisticated kid on the block. The only thing required is the profound recognition of right and wrong, and a strong urge with limitless energy to become a constructive member of the society, and Muhammad Ali had that.
His whole life reflected a fight for justice and equality for impoverished blacks of America against the White rich class, and this image deeply resonated with all the unrepresented poor of the world. Ali became a symbol for the poor, an icon for their hopes and aspirations to rise and develop.
` I am still gonna find out who stole my bike when I was 12 years old in Louisville, and I'm still gonna whup him. That was a gud bike.' Muhammad Ali.
on 16 July 2003
Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times offers a completely unbias, eye opening account into the life of the sports personality of the century. What makes this book so unbias is the way the stories are told by the people closest to him...... the people he fought, the people who trained him, the people he dedicated his life to and the women he married. Some of the quotes will open up a side to Muhammad not captured by any previous documentary or archieved clip. From reading this book you will understand as i did that Cassuis Clay, behind the attention seeking, headline grabbing exterior lies one of the most sincere, honest and generous people and not to mention the most naturally gifted athlete ever to walk the globe. He has done unmeasureable things for the black community and stood up for what he truely believed despite any consequences he may be subjected to. I firmly believe he is worthy of his title 'Sports Personality of The Century'------- Dan Talbot, bored student whos just read his first book!
on 28 March 2003
This is a simply fantastic portrait of the great man. Hauser takes us through Ali's life but 90% of the book is made up of first hand recollections from the participants. Wives, girlfriends, opponents, referees, lawyers, promoters, friends, Ali himself all tell the story of the Ali's life.
Everyone, friend or foe, contributes and no stone is left unturned. Utterly fascinating from start to finish and a biography worthy of Muhammad Ali. Even if you have no interest in the noble art this is worth reading to gain an full portrait of one of the 20th century's icons.
on 20 September 2015
It would be very difficult to improve on something like this, so if you're interested in knowing more about him, this is the book. Hard to know what to focus on as there are so many strands weaved throughout the story - his rise, fall then rise again, his objection to the Vietnam War, his religious affiliations, his accessibility, his mind games, his values, his entourage, his health. Was he The Greatest? All things considered, it sounds to me like he probably was.