Also by Smith & Roberts
A Season in the Sun
The story of Mickey Mantle's magnificent 1956 season
Mickey Mantle was the ideal batter for the atomic age, capable of hitting a baseball harder and farther than any other player in history. He was also the perfect idol for postwar America, a wholesome hero from the heartland.
In A Season in the Sun, acclaimed historians Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith recount the defining moment of Mantle's legendary career: 1956, when he overcame a host of injuries and critics to become the most celebrated athlete of his time. Taking us from the action on the diamond to Mantle's off-the-field exploits, Roberts and Smith depict Mantle not as an ideal role model or a bitter alcoholic, but a complex man whose faults were smoothed over by sportswriters eager to keep the truth about sports heroes at bay. An incisive portrait of an American icon, A Season in the Sun is an essential work for baseball fans and anyone interested in the 1950s.
"[An] absorbing and provocative new book... An engrossing and important book."
"A rigorously researched book that gracefully pivots between the world of the ring and the racial politics of the early '60s."
"Earnest and...smartly constructed."
"Exhaustively researched and tautly written, Blood Brothers marks a milestone in the biographical literature of Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, an invaluable addition to our understanding of America in the 1960s. In all it touches the far-flung but interconnected worlds of race, religion, politics, sports, cities, organized crime, and the news media...this sober and detailed book, a dual biography that alternates between protagonists like a suspense novel, renders profound service. The authors unearth reams of new evidence, shine light on long-overlooked episodes, and hack away at the barnacles of mythology, thereby giving us the finest portrait yet of the doomed relationship that transformed Cassius Clay into Muhammad Ali."
"Though their individual lives have been explored through previous books and movies, Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X delves into the close kinship these men shared, and the reasons it ultimately fell apart."
"This book offers a significant contribution to serious studies of Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and the Nation of Islam."
The authors give us a thorough examination of the relationship between the two icons in the context of the black experience and the turbulent 1960s. White America blamed Malcolm for Cassius Clay's transformation to Muhammad Ali, but the truth is more complicated, involving the split between Malcolm and the Nation of Islam. We're brought back to the champ's early boxing days and see how the brash Ali whom America came to know developed."
"The broad outlines of the Ali/Malcolm drama are well known, but Roberts and Smith emphasize how crucial each was to the other's destiny: Ali's as a global figure of black pride and Malcolm's as a martyred black visionary. They provide more exhaustive detail than previously available, aided by newly released FBI files and personal papers. And they infuse the tale with sharp insights and an impending sense of tragedy...Blood Brothers reminds us of a time when an heroic image of Ali would have seemed as unlikely as the idea that Cassius Clay could beat Sonny Liston, or that a big-budget Hollywood film would someday venerate the life of Malcolm X."
[A] provocative history...Roberts and Smith map the relationship between the troubled icons in painstaking detail and debunk long-held assumptions about their break...Roberts and Smith bring a fresh perspective to the story in the civil rights movement, and capture the ferment of the broader era."
"[Roberts and Smith] sharply detail Malcolm's growing disillusionment with Elijah, his heartbreak at the loss of Ali's allegiance, and the ugly dynamic within the Nation that left the defiant minister murdered. A page-turning tale from the 1960s about politics and sports and two proud, extraordinary men whose legacies endure."
"Thanks to Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith's enthralling narrative we now have a better understanding of how a complex relationship was born, and how it fell apart."
A unique hybrid of race, politics, and sports; it is easy to read yet gives rise to sober reflection. It fills a gap in our understanding of one of the most fascinating relationships in American history."
"Historians Roberts and Smith have written the first book examining the complex bond between the two men, who met in 1962 as the young Louisville boxer Cassius Clay was making a name for himself."
"Roberts and Smith portray both of these courageous and controversial, inspired and inspiring men with fresh, stinging clarity, and extend our perception of the interconnectivity of race, religion, sports, and media during this violent and transformative era, which is so very germane today."
"Armed with redacted FBI files and rare archival material, the historians challenge standard accounts of the friendship and use their revision to illuminate the moment when the civil rights era, anti-colonial struggles and the baby boomers' coming of age coalesced to reshape the world in ways that still resonate...In convincing detail, Blood Brothers traces Ali's rise to international celebrity while Malcolm was stalked and harassed by the Fruit of Islam, the paramilitary group that enforced obedience to the church."
"In the most detailed account to date of this fascinating bond, professors of history Randy Roberts (Purdue) and Johnny Smith (Georgia Tech) unveil a story few Americans know, arguing that Ali and Malcolm were much more than mere acquaintances; their symbiotic relationship, with Ali as pupil and Malcolm as mentor, was deeply important to each man. From beginning to end, Blood Brothers is a story of transformation."
"Blood Brothers is shedding light on the secret friendship between boxing great Muhammad Ali and civil rights leader Malcolm X."
-Howell Raines, former executive editor of the New York Times
-Robert Lipsyte, former sports columnist for the New York Times
-Gerald Early, editor of the Muhammad Ali Reader and author of A Level Playing Field: African American Athletes and the Republic of Sports