10 books like The Fight

By Norman Mailer,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Fight. Shepherd is a community of 6,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Executioner's Song

By Norman Mailer,

Book cover of The Executioner's Song

Mailer’s novels from the 1960s-2007 are notoriously challenging, and I’ve seen readers wanting to see what Mailer is about sometimes make the mistake of starting with one of his more difficult, convoluted novels—Ancient Evenings or Harlot’s Ghost, for example. But The Executioner’s Song is thought by many critics to be not only his best novel (winning his second Pulitzer Prize), but his most readable, despite its length. It recounts the story and ultimate execution in January of 1977 of Gary Gilmore, who murdered two men during his release from prison on parole. But what Mailer does is work outward from that basic fact to go beyond the media circus that surrounded the case and the execution to try to understand Gilmore, his girlfriend Nicole, and the whole American setting—particularly the American West—that defined their lives. 

Joan Didion’s wonderful review in the NYTBR said Mailer had written a book…

The Executioner's Song

By Norman Mailer,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Executioner's Song as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ANDREW O'HAGAN

In the summer of 1976 Gary Gilmore robbed two men. Then he shot them in cold blood. For those murders Gilmore was sent to languish on Death Row - and could confidently expect his sentence to be commuted to life imprisonment. In America, no one had been executed for ten years.

But Gary Gilmore wanted to die, and his ensuing battle with the authorities for the right to do so made him into a world-wide celebrity - and ensured that his execution turned into the most gruesome media event of the decade.


The Naked and the Dead

By Norman Mailer,

Book cover of The Naked and the Dead

This book reaches deep inside the histories and personalities of a squad of American soldiers. It meticulously displays the differences between the men themselves while painting an unflinching picture of their reactions to combat and the virtual suicidal mission they are tasked with. The war in the Pacific as monumental conflict is brought to a cellular level. Simultaneously, different strata of class systems in the U.S. are explored through dramatizations of the men’s lives before the war. If you’re at all like me, it’s impossible not to find yourself among the squad members. 

The Naked and the Dead

By Norman Mailer,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Naked and the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Big Empty

By Norman Mailer, John Buffalo Mailer,

Book cover of The Big Empty: Dialogues on Politics, Sex, God, Boxing, Morality, Myth, Poker and Bad Conscience in America

Mailer published three nonfiction books near the end of his life to lay out his final take on issues he’d been pursuing his entire writing life and as a highly visible, often notorious, public intellectual: On God, Why Are We at War?—echoing his 1967 novel Why Are We in Vietnam?—and The Big Empty. I chose The Big Empty because the reader comes to understand where Mailer lands finally on so many issues he covered during his decades of political and societal journalism, with a special focus on democracy in America, its potential and its abiding threats.

The book is structured as a series of dialogues with his youngest son, John Buffalo Mailer, who in his introduction argues that such a dialogue with his father represents a necessary conversation among generations. Their topics include, among other pressing intergenerational concerns, the American presidency, endless war, American 21st-century politics,…

The Big Empty

By Norman Mailer, John Buffalo Mailer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Big Empty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Questions are posed, writes Norman Mailer, "in the hope they will open into richer insights, which in turn will bring forth sharper questions. " In this series of conversations, John Buffalo Mailer, 27, poses a series of questions to his father, challenging the reflections and insights of the man who has dominated and defined much of American letters for the past sixty years. Their wide-ranging discussions take place over the course of a year, beginning in July 2004. Set against the backdrop of George W. Bush's re-election campaign and the war in Iraq, each considers what it means to live…

The Time of Our Time

By Norman Mailer,

Book cover of The Time of Our Time

Published on the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Naked and the Dead, the book is an overview of Mailer’s entire writing career up to 1998, by way of introductions to and excepts from his decades of fiction and nonfiction. I make this recommendation as a risk because the book is a nearly 1300-page-long anthology. No one is going to sit down and read cover to cover, however, so I offer it as a way of seeing the sweep of a major author’s career; here you can dip in and out as you wish to see what’s up with a given work or topic at any point in Mailer’s publishing life, up to 1998. You can decide then what you want to read in the offered excerpt or in full, either from an included short work of magazine journalism or a short story, or from a whole…

The Time of Our Time

By Norman Mailer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Time of Our Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE TIME OF OUR TIME is a selection of Mailer's best work, chosen by Mailer himself, and ingeniously arranged as a literary retrospective. It is a masterly, boisterous portrait of our times, seen through the fiction and reportage of a great writer. Included are passages from THE NAKED AND THE DEAD, THE ARMIES OF THE NIGHT and THE EXECUTIONER'S SONG, as well as many of his other works and his best-known magazine pieces from Marilyn Monroe to Madonna. This giant omnibus is a testament to Mailer's enormous energies, his vast curiosity, and his amazing talent and amounts almost to a…

The Sweet Science

By A.J. Liebling,

Book cover of The Sweet Science

In a very British list, there has got to be something from the great American tradition. Liebling wrote for the elite New Yorker but as a New Yorker in every sense he liked to think of himself as a sort of Pierce Egan of the Bronx. So, in the heyday of American fighting, take a ringside seat at The Garden to see the fighter with a face like a worn penny, and see Jersey Joe Walcott take a fall like flour out of a chute.

The Sweet Science

By A.J. Liebling,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sweet Science as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Take a ringside seat next to A. J. Liebling at some of the greatest fights in history. Here is Joe Louis's devastating final match; Sugar Ray Robinson's dramatic comeback; and Rocky Marciano's rise to heavyweight glory. The heated ringside atmosphere, the artistry of the great boxers and the blows and parries of the classic fights are all vividly evoked in a volume described by Sports Illustrated as 'the best American sports book of all time'.

'A rollicking god among boxing writers ... before Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson were out of diapers, Liebling was taking his readers on excursions…


The Contender

By Robert Lipsyte,

Book cover of The Contender

Robert Lipsyte wrote a powerful coming of age novel entitled, The Contender. Alfred, a Black seventeen-year-old high school dropout, lives in New York City with his aunt after his father left and his mother died. Alfred is wasting his life hanging around gang members, until they want to break into the store where he works. Alfred forgets to tell them about the new alarm system and they beat him up. He is found nearly unconscious and helped home by Henry, who works at a gym where its owner, Mr. Donatelli, trains famous boxers. Alfred decides to train to be a fighter. The grueling work teaches him not only to be a contender in the ring but in life outside of it.  

The Contender

By Robert Lipsyte,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Contender as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Exploits of Engelbrecht

By Maurice Richardson,

Book cover of The Exploits of Engelbrecht

The stories that appear in this book were first published in Lilliput in the 1940s, a British monthly magazine. They relate the perilous, often diabolical activities of the Surrealist Sportsman’s Club, a society devoted to playing games that no one else would dream of attempting. Engelbrecht is a diminutive boxer who fights clocks, zombies, witches, and other assorted horrors and marvels, and he generally wins because of pluck combined with luck. Richardson’s prose style here is a blend of gothic horror, period science fiction, and the wisecracking of Damon Runyan, and the reader can expect no respite from the tumult of ideas, images, situations, jokes, and subversion of clichés.

The Exploits of Engelbrecht

By Maurice Richardson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Exploits of Engelbrecht as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Cinderella Man

By Jeremy Schaap,

Book cover of Cinderella Man: James J. Braddock, Max Baer, and the Greatest Upset in Boxing History

Boxing was such a popular sport during the Great Depression. My grandparents’ family regularly listened to “the fights” on the radio. Dubbed “Cinderella Man” by writer Damon Runyon, James J. Braddock, with 24 losses, won one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight boxing championship history. He defeated Max Baer on June 13, 1935, in Long Island City, New York, for the world title in a unanimous decision after a grueling 15 rounds.

The next day, Leora Wilson wrote her two sons who’d joined the Navy during the Depression, “Expect you may have heard the Braddock and Baer fight. I’m glad Braddock won–he needs the money for his family.” Not only that, but Braddock had been “on the dole” at one point, an underdog in many ways. He was so embarrassed at needing help to feed his three children that he paid back the money he’d received from the government. A…

Cinderella Man

By Jeremy Schaap,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cinderella Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Behind the Mask

By Tyson Fury,

Book cover of Behind the Mask

The thing I love about Tyson's story is he makes it so relatable to ask questions that others are too afraid to answer. He talks about his triumphs but especially his tribulations. He single handily put mental health on the horizon up for discussion and this man being a giant and talented boxer showed men in particular that it was alright to hurt at times to get lost and to fall apart. Up to then, most celebrities were too proud to go deep and talk about their struggles. Not Tyson, this is the greatest gift you can give.

Honesty and integrity. Not being afraid of being shamed or judged but allowing the world to know that it's ok to talk about this. Not only OK but necessary. I admired the man and his family even more from that very read. It was fabulous looking into the mind of the best…

Behind the Mask

By Tyson Fury,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Behind the Mask as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE UNDEFEATED HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION, IN HIS OWN WORDS
________________________________
The UK's bestselling boxing book since records began. WINNER of the Telegraph Sports Book of the Year.
________________________________
'One of sport's most heart-warming stories' SUNDAY TIMES, SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR
'A must-read for any boxing fan.' WORLD BOXING NEWS
'If you know someone who's a fan of the People's Champion, then they'll love this.' TALKSPORT

The extraordinary story of the rise and fall and rise again of Tyson Fury...

THE GYPSY KING.

A Manchester lad from Irish Traveller stock, born three months premature and weighing just a pound at birth,…


The Devil and Sonny Liston

By Nick Tosches,

Book cover of The Devil and Sonny Liston

“A ghost story, a haunting unto itself”—thus, music journalist Nick Tosches opens his tough tale of the boxer Sonny Liston, two-time heavyweight champion of the world. Born in 1932 into a family of tenant farmers that lived on the border of Arkansas and Mississippi, Liston grew up with violence, reinforced by an early stint in prison. Deftly, Tosches conjures the grim, ruthless culture of professional boxing during the 1950s and 60s. Most poignantly, he shows that Liston never possessed his own life—not in the fields from which he fled as a youth and not as a winner in the ring. He was always owned by white men who operated a fundamentally racist business. For readers interested in Black cultural history, this is a timely book. 

The Devil and Sonny Liston

By Nick Tosches,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Devil and Sonny Liston as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A biography of the controversial fighter follows Liston from the mean streets, where he was a petty criminal, to the heavyweight championship and his life as a pawn of organized crime. By the author of Power on Earth. Reprint. 25,000 first printing.

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