Cover image for Redemption song : Muhammad Ali and the spirit of the sixties
Redemption song : Muhammad Ali and the spirit of the sixties
Marqusee, Mike.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London ; New York : Verso, 1999.
Physical Description:
310 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 20 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
GV1132.A44 M37 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Shortlisted for the 1999 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award and voted one of the twenty-five "Books to Remember 2000" by the New York Public Library.

In this timely antidote to the apolitical celebration of Muhammad Ali as 'a great American', Mike Marqusee puts the boxer back in his true historical context to explore a crucial moment at the crossroads of popular culture and mass resistance. And, in a new afterword for this second edition, he reflects on Ali's legacy in the era of the 'war on terror'.

Author Notes

Michael John Marqusee was born in New York on January 27, 1953. In 1973, he moved to the United Kingdom. He read English literature at Sussex University before moving to north London, where he lived for the rest of his life.

He was a writer and political activist. He wrote several books about or featuring the game of cricket including Slow Turn, Anyone but England, and War Minus the Shooting. His other books include Redemption Song, Wicked Messenger, If I Am Not for Myself, and The Price of Experience. He also chronicled Labour's rightwing drift in a book co-authored with Richard Heffernan entitled Defeat from the Jaws of Victory. He died of cancer on January 13, 2015 at the age of 61.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

While David Remnick's King of the World focused on the character of Muhammad Ali, using historical context to buttress his portrait of the man, Marqusee has written a vibrant historical essay that reexamines Ali's role as a symbol of dissent and uses the man as a portal to an understanding of his era. In February 1964, the day after he shocked boxing experts by dethroning the much-feared Sonny Liston as heavyweight champion of the world, Cassius Clay had breakfast with Malcolm X and announced that he had joined the Nation of Islam. "I know where I'm going and I know the truth," he said, "and I don't have to be what you want me to be." From that moment, the young man who would soon become Muhammad Ali, who had a natural aversion to politics and a supremely independent spirit, was thrust into the center of events in an era of dramatic social change. Marqusee, who emigrated from America to Britain in 1971, argues that the true political context of Ali's actions and their international implications have been diluted in recent years as the defiant ethos of the 1960s has faded and as Ali has been appropriated as a corporate and even patriotic icon. Drawing upon the music of the dayÄDylan, Hendrix, Sam CookeÄand ranging from Paul Robeson to Patrice Lumumba, Marqusee engagingly explains how Ali's penchant for turning events upside down often made him a symbol of heroism abroad and of disrespect for the status quo at home. As Marqusee charts how Ali helped create a global consciousness, he succeeds in knocking Ali off the respectable pedestal on which American culture has placed him, resurrecting him as the radical figure he truly was. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Former Guardian columnist Marqusee investigates heavyweight champion -Muhammad Ali's role as both sportsman and political figure during a decade of remarkable change. © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Marqusee (Centre for Sport Development Research, Roehampton Inst., England) writes about the enormous global impact Mohammed Ali had during his eye-opening journey through the politics and culture of the 1960s. He tells Ali's story from the time of his adoption of the Nation of Islam and his refusal to fight in Vietnam, until he was cast as the star of the opening ceremony of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. The substance of this text is a story of a young athlete who made brave choices and stood by them; it helps readers to expand the appreciation they may have of Ali. The documentation of sources is well done. Still, this volume does not begin to compare with David Remnick's recent King of the World (CH, Jun'99). General readers and researchers. H. F. Kenny Jr.; Wesleyan University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. ix
Introduction: Ali in the Prison of the Presentp. 1
1 The Baby Figure of the Giant Massp. 7
2 A Change Is Gonna Comep. 46
3 Bringing It All Back Homep. 102
4 Beyond the Confines of Americap. 162
5 At the Rendezvous of Victoryp. 253
Conclusion: Crowns and Garlandsp. 293
Note on Sourcesp. 299
Indexp. 304