I don’t really like boxing, in fact I’m not much of a sports fan all around, so why I picked Norman Mailers in depth background of one of the biggest sporting events of the 20th century (The Rumble In The Jungle) as part of the thirty books that I want to read before I turn 30 now escapes me, but I’m very glad that pick it I did.
The Story is the first (and sometimes third) person narrative of Norman Mailer and focuses on the Title Fight between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali at Kinshasa in Zaire (Modern day Democratic Republic Of The Congo) in 1974. It follows Norman as he interacts with both Ali and Foreman, during training both in the US and in Zaire, right up until (and through) the fight itself. Mailer is able to paint a vivid picture of the time and place in which the fight takes place, and owing to his own relationships with the key players of this drama, and the access he is afforded as a renowned pressman with almost unfettered access in a country where freedom of the press is the freedom to get shot for a bad byline.
As someone who knows sweet F all about boxing Norman Mailer manages to actually engage the reader in the whole pugilistic ballet from “rope-a-dopes” to footwork he manages to make it wholly accessible to the know nothings like myself. Mailer really is able to show why he is the king of the “new journalism” genre. Its one of those books that I took a chance on, and its nice to see that the chance has paid off, I’m glad that I was able to cross this one off the list.