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The Fight (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Norman Mailer
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Different Look At "The Rumble in the Jungle" Aug. 28 2003
By usaamah
Format:Paperback
Norman Mailer's "The Fight" is quite simply one of the best boxing books I have ever read. Reading Mailer the novelist writing about boxing gives you a certain novelty you will not experience in other books on sport. Mailer's keen observation comes shining through: on life in Zaire, Mobutu's rule, George Foreman and of course Muhammad Ali.

I was surprised to see that Mailer has such a keen eye on the sport. His description of the fight is like no other you will ever read or see. The result is something like a passage jointly written by Bill Cayton and Alistair MacLean. Mailer with his minute observation adds a great touch of drama to the proceedings instead of presenting only a dry technical analysis of the fight. If you want the latter, you might as well watch Max Kellerman on ESPN. Mailer on the other hand gives you a lively picture, making you feel like you were there on that dark, sultry Kinshasa night, part of the radiant crowd chanting "Ali, mumbaye".

Mailer displays an ardent love for the sport and admiration for Muhammad Ali. Many insights are given into Ali's personality. Particularly interesting are the insights into the lives of Ali's camp members: Angelo Dundee, the workaholic trainer who never gave away an inch; Lou Bundini, the colorful sidekick, and Herbert Muhammad, the manager who always meant business. I have read a lot on Ali but have not been able to find anything special on his troupe, apart from this book by Mailer.

If you are a serious boxing and Ali fan, you just have to read this book. If you are not and are just interested in understanding the fascination about Muhammad Ali, this is something that will do a lot to help you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Ali Story Aug. 9 2001
Format:Paperback
This was my first experience with Norman Mailer and it certainly will not be my last. The Fight paints beautiful portraits of many of the characters, events, and locations that surrounded The Rumbe in The Jungle of 1975. His eye for detail and incredible descriptive ability made this a wonderful read. More important to boxing fans, however, is that his actual recount of the fight itself may be the single best piece of boxing writing I have ever read--it was better than watching the real thing and Mailer somehow makes the reader feel like he is both a ringside spectator and one of the combatants at the same time (a strange experience, but certainly one worth having). This book is an excellent companion to When We Were Kings and the actual video of the fight, both of which are sold by Amazon. Another interesting contrast is provided by David Remnick's King of the World, which details the months leading up to Ali's first championship fight against Sonny Liston. Ali evolved a great deal between 1964 when he was still a young, scared Cassius Clay and 1975 when he had become an older, wiser, though no less enthusiastic champion. The Fight is a great book, a must have for all boxing fans and certainly worthy of any reader who enjoys excellent character development, action, and terrific writing.
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Format:Paperback
If you were fascinated by Leon Gast's Oscar-winning 1996 documentary "When We Were Kings," do what I did: go out and buy Mailer's 'The Fight' immediately. More than just covering the fight itself, Mailer takes in and reports the entire crazy scene in Kinshasa, Zaire, circa 1975. It must be noted that this book is as much about Norman Mailer (referring to himself throughout the book in the third-person) as it is about Muhammad Ali, but this results in some great reporting like in the one memorable chapter where Mailer decides he's going to run in the early dawn with Ali.
The best parts of the book deal not with Ali but in the richly drawn portraits of the other important players. Ali's mystical cornerman Drew 'Bundini' Brown is a revelation, and you won't find a better take on Don King anywhere, despite the fact that this prose is now 25 years old. The real value of this work is that it captures the essence of Ali and Foreman circa 1975, and - like 'We Were Kings' - subconsciously directs your brain to compare these 'Kings' to the men they have become. The natural tendency is to recognize the true extent of what we have been deprived of by Ali's descent into the grips of Parkinson's, but there's a corresponding shock when reading about Foreman: to realize how this man totally reconstructed his personality to turn himself into a multi-media star. You read Mailer's book and say: No way. But George pulled it off.
Was this review helpful to you?
Format:Paperback
If you were fascinated by Leon Gast's Oscar-winning 1996 documentary "When We Were Kings," do what I did: go out and buy Mailer's 'The Fight' immediately. More than just covering the fight itself, Mailer takes in and reports the entire crazy scene in Kinshasa, Zaire, circa 1975. It must be noted that this book is as much about Norman Mailer (referring to himself throughout the book in the third-person) as it is about Muhammad Ali, but this results in some great reporting like in the one memorable chapter where Mailer decides he's going to run in the early dawn with Ali.
The best parts of the book deal not with Ali but in the richly drawn portraits of the other important players. Ali's mystical cornerman Drew 'Bundini' Brown is a revelation, and you won't find a better take on Don King anywhere, despite the fact that this prose is now 25 years old. The real value of this work is that is captures the essence of Ali and Foreman circa 1975, and - like 'We Were Kings' - subconsciously directs your brain to compare these 'Kings' to the men they have become. The natural tendency is to recognize the true extent of what we have been deprived of by Ali's descent into the grips of Parkinson's, but there's a corresponding shock when reading about Foreman: to realize how this man totally reconstructed his personality to turn himself into a multi-media star. You read Mailer's book and say: No way. But George pulled it off.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable romp
Brilliant, self-indulgent and wildly subjective, this is a dazzling one-off effort.
Published on Dec 15 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars 99% About Norman Mailer, 1% About the Fight
Question: How to take The Rumble in the Jungle, one of the most amazing sports events in the last fifty years and completely ruin it in a print account? Read more
Published on July 14 2003 by buddyhead
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just about two men hitting each other
The previous reviewer, "A reader from River Forest, IL USA" appears to have been reading a different book! Read more
Published on July 1 2002 by Andrew Ryan
5.0 out of 5 stars Two champions - one great book
What more needs to be said. Norman Mailer, the champion of the written word teams with the champion of the ring...
Could the outcome be anything short of magnificent?
Published on Aug. 29 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Re-Print from Life Mag
When I first read this years ago in Life, I thought it was simply the most amazing writing I had ever encountered; Mailer is extra-ordinary and again established himself, in my... Read more
Published on Aug. 4 2001 by Dr Martin J Kaplan
3.0 out of 5 stars Not only for boxing fans
This book is about an event that has always interested me, and as such I enjoyed it. It is filled to the brim with fascinating, larger-than-life characters, with the hangers-on... Read more
Published on July 31 2001 by jsiebrits@yahoo.com
4.0 out of 5 stars powerful writing transcends generation gap
Picked up on a lark, I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened the book. Too young to appreciate the actual fight when it happened, I doubted if I would be able to get into the... Read more
Published on Dec 9 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Vivid account of exciting fight and interesting man
I think Mailer did an excellent job of making the characters (Ali, Foreman, George Plimpton...) come to life. And his commentary on the fight itself is also excellent. Read more
Published on Nov. 23 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Mailer on the greatest fight of the greatest prize fighter.
This book is a must read for fans of boxing and Muhammed Ali. Mailer brings the "Rumble in the Jungle" to life. Read more
Published on Nov. 10 1998
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