Sting like a Bee: Muhammad Ali vs. the United States of America, 1966–1971

Leigh Montville. Doubleday, $30 (368p) ISBN 978-0-385-53605-9
In this revealing history, sports writer Montville (Ted Williams) portrays Muhammad Ali, one of the most celebrated athletes of the 20th century, during the tumultuous 1960s. The day after felling Sonny Liston to win the 1964 heavyweight championship, 22-year-old Muhammad Ali pledged allegiance to the Nation of Islam. The hysteria that followed grew ever louder as the fighter went on to reject his “slave” name and refuse draft induction, saying “I don’t have no personal quarrel with those Viet Congs.” After a series of court battles, Ali was convicted and given a five-year sentence for refusing to be drafted. Stripped of his passport and boxing titles, Ali scraped by on speaking gigs and performing as a lead for a Broadway musical, Buck White, as his lawyers fought to keep him out of prison. With dry humor, Montville portrays the central figures of Ali’s life—mostly hustlers and religious idealists—as well as the controversies surrounding an African-American who both condemned racial injustice and praised George Wallace. Montville only touches on the brutality of the NOI and the megalomania of Elijah Muhammad. Before his battle with the U.S. government, Ali was a unique talent; afterward, he was a pariah who became a hero. Montville shows how Ali earned the title he came up with for himself: “The Greatest.” (May)
Reviewed on: 05/15/2017
Release date: 05/16/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-307-95032-1
Ebook - 978-0-385-53606-6
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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