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Approaching Ali : A Reclamation in Three Acts
by Davis Miller


Overview -

On Easter weekend 1988, then struggling writer and movie store clerk Davis Miller drove to Muhammad Ali's mother's modest house in Louisville, knocked on the front door, and waited for an answer. It had been over two decades since he'd first glimpsed The Champ on a black-and-white television--when Miller was an eleven-year-old boy, shattered by the unexpected loss of his mother--and he felt the time had come for him to personally thank the man whose fearlessness, grace, and tenacity gave him the power to overcome a near-paralyzing depression.  Read more...


 
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More About Approaching Ali by Davis Miller
 
 
 
Overview

On Easter weekend 1988, then struggling writer and movie store clerk Davis Miller drove to Muhammad Ali's mother's modest house in Louisville, knocked on the front door, and waited for an answer. It had been over two decades since he'd first glimpsed The Champ on a black-and-white television--when Miller was an eleven-year-old boy, shattered by the unexpected loss of his mother--and he felt the time had come for him to personally thank the man whose fearlessness, grace, and tenacity gave him the power to overcome a near-paralyzing depression. When the door finally opened, Miller would not only get to meet his "spiritual constant" but also begin a surprising and tender new friendship that would forever transform his life.

Today, more than twenty-five years later, the two still share an uncommon bond, the sort that can be fashioned only in serendipitous ways and fortified through shared experiences. Miller now draws from those remarkable moments to give us a quietly startling portrait of a great man physically ravaged but spiritually young. Beginning with a series of three interconnected anecdotes about Miller's first meeting with the champ--which formed the basis of "My Dinner with Ali," a legendary piece of sports journalism that was anthologized in The Best American Sports Writing of the Century--Approaching Ali continues as a historic tribute, composed of linked vignettes spread out over decades, that is unlike anything else that has been written about one of the world's most famous and loved men.

As readers will discover in these pages, Miller is the Everyman, Ali the Superman in physical decline. Commingled together, the two voices form the all-time most intimate portrait of Ali's day-by-day life in his postboxing career. Through Miller's eyes, we witness the aging and ailing Ali playing mischievous tricks on unsuspecting guests, performing sleight of hand for any willing audience, and walking over ten miles each day to enjoy an ice cream sundae and talk with strangers. Miller goes on to reveal a side of the boxing legend we never knew was there, whether it be Ali handing out hundred-dollar bills at a Los Angeles bus stop, showing a group of inner-city children the ocean for the very first time, or unexpectedly cracking jokes with the distinctly insightful words he is still able to summon.

Following in the grand contemporary literary tradition of writers such as Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe, and Nick Hornby, Miller gives us a series of extraordinary insights into a man that he has been approaching nearly his entire life. The result is both a new introduction to the human side of a boxing legend as well as a loving and beautifully written reclamation of Muhammad Ali's life after the ring.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781631491153
  • ISBN-10: 1631491156
  • Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
  • Publish Date: November 2015
  • Page Count: 240
  • Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Sports - General
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Cultural Heritage
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Historical - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-11-02
  • Reviewer: Staff

Journalist Miller (The Tao of Bruce Lee) here explores his long fascination with boxing icon Muhammad Ali and their eventual friendship. As a sickly, undersized teenager in North Carolina in the 1960s, Miller clung to the exploits of Ali as an escape from the loss of his mother and the bullying he suffered. Throughout various reinventionscompetitive kickboxer, journalist, editor, fatherMiller never lost his focus on Ali and eventually became enough of an intimate to serve as the Boswell of the champs post-boxing life, which was increasingly affected by Parkinsons syndrome. Hero worship provides the impetus for the memoir, but Miller doesnt ignore Alis philandering and his abuse of Joe Frazier, or the mounting damage wrought by Parkinsons. In clear, observant prose, Miller details how the most outspoken and graceful heavyweight of all time now struggles to knot a tie or make himself understood. Yet in the wreck of the black Superman, Miller discovers and celebrates a spiritual Ali, a bodhisattva molded by the unlikely path of boxing and the Nation of Islam. Miller writes affectingly of his own life as well, a tactic that deepens the impressionistic swirl of his meetings with Ali. Readers may not share Millers adulation, but his engagement and journalistic integrity provide a unique perspective on a man he portrays as a hero for the world. (Dec.)

 
BookPage Reviews

Books for the well-read gentleman

Sports heroes, military giants, one handsome movie star and savory recipes to satisfy even the burliest man’s appetite—these are the hooks that drive this holiday season’s selection of gift books for guys.

INTO THE WAR ROOM
Best known for his novel Forrest Gump, Winston Groom is also a well-published historian. His latest project, The Generals: Patton, MacArthur, Marshall, and the Winning of World War II, is a multi-tiered yet wholly accessible examination of the intertwined careers of three brilliant American soldiers: George Marshall, George Patton and Douglas MacArthur. All three were born in the 1880s, gained critical experience in World War I and became key players in World War II. Groom outlines each man’s personal life and military exploits with special focus on the Second World War, where Marshall excelled as an army administrator, Patton as a fiery commander of forces on the European front and MacArthur as an inspirational leader in the Pacific theater. Groom balances the strictly biographical data with well-researched historical accounts, and along the way he offers invaluable perspectives on the world politics that critically influenced his subjects’ lives.

PIGGING OUT
Accomplished author and competitive hunter Jennifer L.S. Pearsall serves up Praise the Pig: Loin to Belly, Shoulder to Ham—Pork-​Inspired Recipes for Every Meal, a comprehensive collection of more than 50 pork recipes. Pearsall’s culinary celebration begins with a thorough overview of pork cuts and styles of preparation and cooking (roasting, smoking, etc.), plus an excellent discussion of bacon brands and pork-savvy kitchen tips. Then come the recipes, with inviting full-color photos, starting with Chili-Rubbed, Salsa-Braised Chops with Spiced Rice, moving to Roasted Pork Tenderloin Chili and ending with Connecticut Clam Chowder. In between are hearty sandwiches, soups (porkestrone!), breakfast dishes, puddings, mac and cheese variations and appetizers to die for, including a Bacon and Roasted Corn Salsa that demands the immediate gathering of ingredients. No self-respecting pork lover could ever refuse this book of porcine delights.

MAN BEHIND THE MUSTACHE
Man’s man Burt Reynolds has had a hit-or-miss acting career. Yet his life has certainly been eventful, as his new memoir, But Enough About Me, clearly attests. Penned with veteran author Jon Winokur, Reynolds’ book is frankly revealing but rarely mean-spirited. For example, Burt’s short-lived marriages to Judy Carne and Loni Anderson were admittedly rocky, but he always takes the high road when he can. More enlightening are his reminiscences of his close friendships with Bette Davis and Dinah Shore, both women of substance whom Burt cherished. Coverage here is chronologically ordered, from Reynolds’ youthful days as a Florida football star to his early acting adventures in New York City to his arrival in California in the 1950s, where small television roles eventually led to feature films, including the critically acclaimed Deliverance (1972) and Boogie Nights (1997), for which he received an Oscar nomination. The enduring Reynolds turns 80 in February, and his surprisingly entertaining show-biz retrospective should find a wide audience.

HEAVYWEIGHT HERO
Journalist Davis Miller’s obsession with Muhammad Ali has spanned from his childhood to the present day, and his book Approaching Ali: A Reclamation in Three Acts represents the culmination of that relationship. The heavyweight champ first inspired Miller when he was a sickly, depressed child. As a teen, Miller had an opportunity to spar with The Greatest, an event that spawned a short news account for Sports Illustrated and helped point him toward a writing career. In this latest testament to his hero, Miller blends new material on his more recent experiences with Ali with reworked excerpts from his previous writings, presenting what he believes to be “the all-time most intimate and quietly startling portrait of Ali’s day-by-day life, as well as the only deeply detailed look at his enormously rich years after boxing.” Ali, now 74 and courageously battling Parkinson’s disease, remains one of the great figures of 20th-century sports, and this profile finds the boxer’s playful good nature and magnanimous personal spirit intact.

TALLYING THE SCORE
Veteran sportswriter Gary Myers recounts the careers of the game’s marquee quarterbacks in Brady vs Manning: The Untold Story of the Rivalry That Transformed the NFL. Myers successfully achieves a dual biography of these iconic figures, focusing not only on what the pair have meant to the National Football League but also what they’ve meant to each other. The relationship between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning emerges here as one of keen mutual respect—both on and off the field—despite the differing nature of their media personas. When Myers isn’t connecting the dots of the Brady-Manning friendship, he serves up thorough profiles of their separate lives, including their college football careers and their arrival on the pro scene: Manning as the coveted #1 draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 1998 and Brady as an unheralded 6th-round pick of the New England Patriots in 2000. There are no shocking revelations here, just good information, solid quotes from important football folks and interesting viewpoints on two important athletes.

 

This article was originally published in the December 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews