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Evel: The High-Flying Life of Evel Knievel: American Showman, Daredevil, and Legend Paperback – May 1 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (May 1 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767930525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767930529
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 748 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #416,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


An Esquire Best Book of the Year
A Boston Globe Best Sports Book of the Year
“Slick, pulpy, eye-filling, exhaust-belching. . . . Smart, rowdy fun. . . . [Montville writes] as if pulling a wheelie across every page. . . . Evel is never dull.”
The New York Times
“[Evel] goes beyond the action-figure image, painting Knievel in all his contradictions. . . . In Montville’s capable hands, Knievel soars again in all his profane, self-deluded glory.”
Sports Illustrated
“In the late 1960s and early 1970s . . . the coolest man on earth was Evel Knievel. . . . Montville brings him vividly back in an outlandishly entertaining new biography.”
New York Post
“Engrossing. . . . A wild ride on the back of Knievel’s cycle.”
Los Angeles Times
“Awesome. . . . A rollicking good tale. . . . Montville nails it just right.”
The Hollywood Reporter
“If Knievel lived ‘as if his pants were on fire,’ then his biographer writes like a house on fire. . . . In describing the complex, contradictory stuntman’s battles with the demons that would ultimately destroy him, [Montville] pulls out all the stops.”
The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg)
“The best biographies not only tell you what people did, they capture their personalities as well, making readers feel as if they are sitting down at a long, well-lubricated dinner with the subject. Mark Twain: A Life by Ron Powers is one such bio, and another is Leigh Montville's brilliant recent biography of Evel Knievel: Evel.”
—Jim Caple,
“Fresh and exciting. . . . A fast-paced thrill ride through a life of success, sex and excess that is sure to leave you winded.”
The Montana Standard
“Montville has been doing big time things with his clever writing mind and his flying keyboard fingers for decades. . . . The job he did on [Evel] tops the others, good as they are. The outrageousness of his subject and Montville's matchless ability to entertain and report make it so.”
Hartford Courant
“Greatly entertaining. . . . A biography as sensationalist and superior as the daredevil himself.”
Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Three-time New York Times bestselling author Leigh Montville is a former columnist at the Boston Globe and former senior writer at Sports Illustrated. He is the author of The Mysterious Montague, The Big Bam, Ted Williams, At the Altar of Speed, Manute, and Why Not Us? He lives in Boston.

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Inside This Book

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa03f8504) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0413030) out of 5 stars One Of A Kind Oct. 6 2012
By mrlewis1962 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Really liked the way this book was written It did not spend too much time with childhood and great grandfathers as other Bio's tend to do just to take up 20 extra pages.For me it was a non stop ride of evel's lust for life.I do wish it would have gone just little more in to the remaining years of his life but I guess there was'nt much there to tell.
HASH(0xa0641f78) out of 5 stars A Well-Written Book About A Disreputable Subject Nov. 17 2014
By Nathan Albright - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book was one of a set of books either given or loaned to me by one of my many book-loving friends, presumably because the subject of the book was a famous daredevil and would presumably make a fascinating subject for a compelling biography. Yet this book presented a difficult challenge, in that the obvious skill of the book, and its depth and importance, were juxtaposed against an extremely unpleasant subject. Robert “Evel” Knievel was a man who became famous as a daredevil in large part because he broke himself so recklessly, so inexpertly, and so thoughtlessly. Yet he was a broken man in many more profound ways than physical ones, coming from a broken family where both of his parents abandoned him to be raised by his grandparents, where he became a hoodlum, dropping out of school and being involved in shady criminal activity before marrying and knocking around as a daredevil after failing as a salesman because it did not promise fast enough gains.

The book takes, as might be expected, a chronological approach, continually filled with cut scenes marked “Story.” Many of the stories are repetitive tales of lots of drinking, casual womanizing, Evel being an abusive bully and pathological liar who takes advantage of others (especially his longsuffering wife, who somehow managed to stick with him for more than 30 years). Evel comes off as a thoroughly dishonorable person–cheating others of their share of the cut, showing superficial charm and being a lot of fun at first but also being a reckless gambler and a generally careless person only concerned about his own bottom line and his own immediate gratification, for which everything must be sacrificed. This is true even though he continually spouted pro-family and patriotic statements which were totally at odds with the life he lived. Despite his crusade against narcotics, he even spent much of his sad later life as an addict to pain killers in addition to his longstanding alcoholism. Despite his marriage and his bromides about being a family man, he bragged continually about his sexual exploits and was an immensely disloyal husband to both of his wives.

The book is a very sad one, largely due to its protagonist. One knows that Evel Knievel will have a lot of success, let it go to his head, and then waste his money on women and luxuriant living, ending up a parody of himself and in trouble with the law. The real high point of Evel’s career was his attempt to leap the Snake River Canyon. After that, his career literally jumped the shark, and he ended up in jail for beating someone unconscious with a bat because the man wrote an honest but unpleasant book about him. Far from being a lasting celebrity and hero to children lasting for generations, Knievel sabotaged himself with his moral failings, his arrogance, and his basic and total lack of respect for the truth and for other people. Nearly everyone who knew him thought him a lout. Writers savaged his career, looking sympathetically at canyons and sharks as opposed to Knievel himself, who nonetheless saw himself as the last great American gladiator, even if he was from beginning to end a total fraud with a thin veneer of superficial charm and not much else of substance to offer.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa06205b8) out of 5 stars Rob Zombie Recommended June 16 2013
By Alan Zirlin - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not that I am a fan but I saw that Rob Zombie recommended this book. So I ordered it and it is one of the most interesting biographies that I have ever read. You will learn some things about how television is marketed for one thing. The author does a great job of keeping the story flowing.
HASH(0xa016218c) out of 5 stars Well done Sept. 9 2015
By Bill D - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well done, great read
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa055296c) out of 5 stars Five Stars Aug. 1 2015
By Ted Kieper - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am in this book.