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On Sonny Liston, Non-Sports Sportswriting & Confederate Monuments

CoastLine: Shaun Assael On Sonny Liston, Lennon Lacy, And Confederate Monuments

By RACHEL LEWIS HILBURN & RACHEL KEITH  JAN 2, 2020

CoastLine

Sonny Liston, heavyweight boxing champion in the early 1960s,  died near the beginning of 1971.  The reason listed on the death certificate:  natural causes.  But nearly 50 years later, the question of whether he was murdered is an open one for some.  It’s a question Shaun Assael set out to answer with his book, The Murder of Sonny Liston:   Las Vegas, Heroin, and Heavyweights. 

Lennon Lacy, a 17-year-old West Bladen High School football player was found dead, hanging by belts from a swing set four years ago.  Local authorities determined Lacy’s death a suicide.  But family members and the NAACP alleged it was murder in the style of a lynching.  Shaun Assael set out to investigate the story.  Two years after Lacy’s death, the U.S. Justice Department issued its own determination – affirming the conclusion of local officials. 

Just last month, Glamour Magazine published a story entitled, The Secret Fight to Save Confederate Monuments.  The byline:  Shaun Assael.  There are a few threads here with which one could weave a theme, but we’ll leave that bit of business to Shaun Assael himself, award-winning investigative journalist, reporter for ESPN for 20 years, author of four books, and a man who describes his instincts as always leading to crime and politics, despite his twenty years in the investigations unit at ESPN.

Read more at Coastline

Listen:

NY Journal of Books Review Sonny Liston

Author Shaun Assael wades into Liston’s world with a hawk’s eye and the nose of bloodhound. The Murder of Sonny Liston is many things: a biography, a story of sixties Las Vegas, and an investigation into a suspicious death that was never conducted.

Despite being nonfiction, The Murder of Sonny Liston tells a good story. It reads like an exemplary bit of hard-boiled crime fiction at times, keeping you glued to the pages. Shaun doesn’t sugarcoat. He’s writing in a heavyweight class and hits hard. You feel thumped by some of this book, grim realities and seedy fantasies coming together in a revelation of Las Vegas that is as ugly as it is glamorous.

Read more of J. Kent Messum’s review at www.nyjournalofbooks.com »