By John Miller and Aaron Kenedi
Muhammad Ali was the greatest. And finally, there is the greatest book
about him. Utilizing the words of such heavyweights as Jackie Robinson,
Malcolm X, Reggie Jackson, Pete Hamill, Norman Mailer, George Plimpton,
Joyce Carol Oates, and Ali himself, "Muhammad Ali Ringside" (Bulfinch
Press Book, $29.95, 128 pp) is a stunner.
compilers and editors, John Miller and Aaron Kenedi, have put together a
feast of Ali from reproductions of fight posters, tickets, rare
memorabilia, and timeless photographs.
the introduction by James Earl Jones, through the literary tour of Ali in
the 1960s by Alex Haley to Norman Mailer's section on the 1970s, to Joyce
Carol Oates' piece on the 1980s, through Peter Richmond's essay on the
1990s and the boxer's battle of his life with Parkinson's Syndrome,
"Ringside" pulls no punches in its honest portrayal of this
bigger-than-life sports hero.
visual images in this oversized and superbly designed book are stunning.
There is a 1962 full-page photo of the man known then as Cassius Clay,
also known as the “Louisville Lip” in a bathrobe and posturing pose; a
Kelly green souvenir program blow-up for a world heavyweight title
elimination bout with Archie Moore; a double-page spread of the weigh-in
for a fight with a mean-looking Sonny Liston on the scale, a curious Ali
taking a peek at the weight, and a crowd of handlers and trainers looking
is Ali preening and adjusting the knot on his tie with the quotes: "I
am the greatest . . .I'm the prettiest thing that ever lived."
there is Ali carrying the torch at the Atlanta Olympics - the mark of
Parkinson's Syndrome on him, the power of his personality still vivid.
Throughout the book, all kinds of epigrams and blown-up quotes abound
adding texture and insight to its subject.
the one that is most significant is this one uttered by Ali: "(Boxing's)
dying'. I always said it would die when I left. Just look at it - there's
Hollyfield, there used to be Tyson. But there's no Muhammad Ali, no kind
really is no hero around today quite like Muhammad Ali. Outrageous,
courageous, funny, fearless - he was one of a kind. It is just terrific to
have this book - part scrapbook, part biography, part record book - all
Ali - to keep and to savor!
Wonderful hot stove reading is "Wait Till Next Year" by Doris
Kearns Goodwin (Touchstone, $13.00, 261pp). We meet the people who
influenced her life of the Pulitzer Prize winner and especially her father
who taught her the thrills of baseball and the joys of rooting for the old
Brooklyn Dodgers. If you have not read this book - go for it - it is a
Junction Boys" by Jim Dent (St. Martin's Press, $24.95, 290pp) is
sub-titled "How Ten Days in Hell with Bear Bryant Forged a
Championship Team". And that is what this winning book is about - a
1-9 Texas A&M team in 1954. It makes for really absorbing reading.
# # #
You can reach
Harvey Frommer at:
About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath,
The Sporting News, among other publications.
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Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer are the authors of
five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth
College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage
in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean.
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