David Remnick has been the editor of The New Yorker since 1998. He was a staff writer for the magazine from 1992 to 1998 and, previous to that, the Washington Post's correspondent in the Soviet Union. He won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1994 for his book Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. He lives in New York City with his wife and children.
"I ain't got no quarrel with them Vietcong," Ali said in 1967 on refusing to be drafted. He was sentenced to five years in prison, and though the Supreme Court would overturn his conviction four years later, principle lost himÄtemporarilyÄhis title, big bucks, the support of many admirers and the best years of his fighting life. Vietnam postdates most of New Yorker editor Remnick's (Lenin's Tomb) coverage, as he writes little about Ali in the post-Sonny Liston era. At its best, the book recalls the boxing writings of A.J. Liebling, while Remnick's frequent use of Ali's hilarious "rapper" doggerel adds to the melancholy humor through which he describes the Louisville kid who beat gambling odds on the way to the heavyweight title but couldn't beat the medical odds. "The history of [prize] fighters," Remnick writes, "is the history of men who end up damaged." Only in his middle 50s, the once graceful Ali, last seen worldwide clutching the Atlanta Olympic torch in a trembling hand, is disabled by degenerative Parkinson's disease. To many, though, he was disabled even earlier by his conversion to Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam, which, whatever its controversial separatist image, "orders [Ali's] life and helps him cope with his illness," according to Remnick. The author smartly records Ali's defiant besting of adversaries in and out of the ring and shows him to be a champion human being. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Nov.)
Born Cassius Clay in segregated Louisville, KY, in 1942, Muhammad Ali became "The Greatest" boxer and world champion, admired for decency, courage, and now for his debilities from thousands of head injuries and the onset of Parkinson's disease. We follow blow-by-blow reports of his first three momentous fights; his conversion to Islam; his friendship with and later rejection of Malcom X; the draft scandal that robbed him of three crucial years and probably $10 million; and, briefly, his four marriages. Dick Hill, always first-rate, reads this well-recorded set. King of the World will circulate well in popular biography collections.ÄGordon Blackwell, Eastchester, NY