Veteran sportswriter Dave Kindred's byline has appeared, most prominently, in the Louisville Courier-Journal, The Washington Post and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is an obvious and excellent candidate to have written Sound and Fury: The Parallel Lives and Fateful Friendship of Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell. Kindred's own prime reporting years coincided with the rise of both of his subjects and he knew them well, not only as iconic figures but also as people. He deftly balances his insider knowledge with a sincere effort to explain each man's rise to fame, the contentiousness that surrounded their careers and the strangely fortuitous intersection of their personas. His aim is to capture Ali and Cosell as they crossed paths in the '60s and '70s, and to replay for his audience how the explosion in television sports of that era made huge stars of them both.
Yet much of his book offers alternating chapters on each man as an individual, filled with insightful biographical detail and infused with the good journalist's desire to achieve balance in his coverage. Cosell the pushy Brooklyn Jew who, fairly late in life, parlayed his connections as a lawyer into a broadcasting career emerges as a somewhat pathetic antihero, but one whose essential egotism and neediness were ultimately leavened by his success as a family man. Ali is the brash, mouthy, Louisville-born wunderkind boxer who became the world heavyweight champion at the age of 22, regained the crown twice more, and became a hugely controversial public figure when he refused to enter the Army during the Vietnam War. Ali evokes pathos as well, by virtue of his ultimate naivete, his premature physical deterioration (which shocked a public that knew him so well as a godly athlete), and the ease with which he was manipulated by opportunistic others, including Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad.
Kindred's narrative rises and falls with the pulse of an involving title fight, its combatants vying fiercely for personal attention and airtime. With its focus on two of the most recognizable names in the history of modern sports, this volume will draw immediate and wide interest from well-rewarded readers.