The Greatest: Muhammad Ali

by Walter Dean Myers

Muhammad Ali’s career is the focus of this captivating biography, which incorporates... read more

Muhammad Ali’s career is the focus of this captivating biography, which incorporates lively accounts of some of his key fights. But author Walter Dean Myers also reveals a man worthy of admiration for much more than his feats in the ring. Gaining recognition as a boxer during the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, Ali refused to compromise his personal convictions, even when his actions jeopardized his career, as they did when he filed as a conscientious objector and, later, refused induction into the U.S. Army. When Ali joined the Nation of Islam, many thought he was a pawn of its leaders. Myers, however, sees a man who lived by his religious faith and his fierce belief in Black independence and pride. Myers’s own admiration for Ali clearly influences this biography but does not obstruct or obscure it; this book shines a light on the character behind all the bluster and boasting that also characterized Ali. Myers does not wholly ignore Ali’s personal life. But the author chooses to focus on the public man and provides an inspiring commentary on this decision. “In his private life, Ali is revealed to be a man of human faults and human weaknesses,” Myers writes in his introduction. “I appreciate the 'normal’ Muhammad Ali, but I choose to write about The Greatest. . . . I look upon him as an American, as a fighter, as a seeker of justice, as someone willing to stand up against the odds, no matter how daunting those odds, no matter how big his foe.” (Age 11 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2002

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