This was a wonderful space to hang out in and share our thoughts! But now we've all moved on and simply left our memories behind :-) ...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Monthly Book Review: The Sweet Science by A J Liebling

I'm back, but only for the review. Work's been hectic, and my apologies for my no-shows. Please bear with me for a little while longer.

So, on with the book review - this one is especially for Rajbir.

I've often heard of A.J. Liebling being refereed to as one of, if not the greatest boxing writer of modern times, equitable to say, the Sugar Ray Robinson of pugilistic prose. However, being a child of today's 'show me, in order to convince me' world, I had my share of doubts. Frankly, because I find that many of today's contemporary writers have similar and consequently indiscernible styles, it's difficult to be truly distinctive and audacious in this arena. So, when I had a chance to pickup Liebling's, The Sweet Science, I felt not only intrigued, but also compelled.

The book is a compilation of some of Leibling's best works during the decade of the 1950's. During that time he covered boxing greats Rocky Marciano, Sandy Saddler, Ezzard Charles, Archie Moore, Joey Maxim, Joe Louis and a host of others.

One of the most obvious and discernible traits that Liebling displayed was his ability to re-create the current times and atmosphere he was writing about. He not only paints accurate fistic portraits, but also cultural and sociological ones. During one instance he talks about the day Sugar Ray Robinson challenged Joey Maxim for the Heavyweight crown in Yankee Stadium, where he not only provides candid moments on the fight itself, but also salient features on the venue, its atmosphere and the people that populated it.

As well, you'll quickly notice that Liebling was a very erudite man. Many, many times he'll amaze you by providing terms that are unequivocal in their defining purpose, and only with the assistance of Merriam–Webster will you be able to fully appreciate them. I found myself thumbing through my own copy on numerous occasions, all the while though, realizing the rewards that Liebling's caveats provided.

Liebling also had an uncanny knack of providing, and invoking humor and humanity in the characters he was covering. I never found his satire to be malicious, as he attacked everyone from fans, to fighters, to foes, but rather comical as no one was able to escape his sardonic wit. I found his portrayal of the verbal and linguistic skills of the patrons that attended fights quite enjoyable.


  1. Wonderful review!! I loved teh way you went about the Leiblings's style of writing.... I dare say I have t scout for a copy of that book now.. you got me intrigued enough!!

  2. hey Sam...thanks much :)
    do read the book - it's truly wonderful...I did not find it at any book store though..I picked it from a great Website...every book in this world is available :)

  3. wow...i loved reading ur review mala :) and u convinced me to get hold of this book now(which i usually wudn read) :P hehe

  4. Good review Mala. Very well written.

  5. thankyou mich and aakash :))

  6. never heard of the author but now am curious..will definitely check out the book.........

  7. "Liebling was a very erudite man." and "Liebling also had an uncanny knack of providing, and invoking humor and humanity in the characters he was covering."

    I guess they go together always :P