ALI by Barry Denenberg


An American Champion
Age Range: 10 - 14
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The story of sports icon Muhammad Ali is told through created documents that explore his controversial life and its impact.

Ali was probably the first figure whose time on the public stage brought together issues of sports, race, religion and politics. His larger-than-life persona attracted great media attention, much of it polarizing. To tell his story, Denenberg has created fictional articles from newspapers and magazines, “man-on-the-street” interviews, letters to the editor, and “breaking news” radio and TV transcripts, all well-grounded in the context of the turbulent 1960s and ’70s. Ali’s religious conversion, his adoption of the name that defined him, and his relationships with Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad are shown generating mixed reactions in both black and white communities. The boxer’s stand against the Vietnam War, the career price he paid and his comeback culminating in his current legendary status round out the narrative. Period photographs and sepia-tone pages support the style of the telling. Similar to other works of nonfiction that employ fictional techniques, the created documents are based on the author’s extensive research and serve to focus on those aspects of Ali’s life that will resonate, and the accessible layout will connect especially with reluctant readers.

Ali makes a near-perfect subject for this eye-catching example of creative nonfiction. (timeline, bibliography) (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4814-0141-8
Page count: 96pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2014


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