This book is, in short, a member of that dying species, the must-read book. Muhammad Ali, is an American myth who has come to mean different things to different people. Mostly, though, Ali’s story is that of an American original with the courage and the knack to throw himself into the currents of his day.
There are times when Ali’s anger seems off-putting, especially when he drops his great friend and mentor Malcolm X cold, prodded and manipulated by Malcolm’s rivals in the Nation of Islam. But there can be no downplaying the genesis of that anger for a young man growing up black in the South. To those whose first glimpse of Ali came at the Atlanta Games, where he was treated almost as a lovable national mascot, it might be hard to remember the insane realities he faced. Remnick does his part to make sure that forgetting is not an option.