Jonathan Eig

Auditorium Speaker Series
Date: Sunday, June 24, 2018 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Morial Convention Center, New Orleans Theater B

Jonathan Eig Image

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns calls Jonathan Eig a "master storyteller." Eig is a journalist and a New York Times best-selling author. He has written five books: Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig; Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season; Get Capone: The Secret Plot that Captured America's Most Wanted Gangster; The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution; and Ali: A Life.

Ali: A Life released last Fall is a stunning portrait of a man who became a legend. The book is the first biography that details Muhammed Ali’s entire life. Based on more than 600 interviews with more than 200 people over the course of five years, one might think that the process would have left Eig exhausted. But he says, ebulliently, “It’s the most fun I have ever had working on a book. I actually told my editor that I wanted to work on this book until I die.” Eig uncovered thousands of pages of previously unreleased FBI and Justice Department files, as well dozens of hours of newly discovered audiotaped interviews from the 1960s. Thoroughly studied, Eig had researchers watch all of Ali’s fights and tally the number of times he was hit and how many times he hit opponents. He also asked speech scientists to screen Ali’s television appearances and evaluate changes in his speech. Eig says, “we calculated that he was hit more than 200,000 times,” and there is melancholy in his voice when he says that.”

Ali: A Life was named winner of the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sportswriting, best book of the year by Sports Illustrated, and one of the ten best non-fiction books of the year by the Wall Street Journal. It was a finalist for Mark Lynton History Prize, the Plutarch Award, the William Hill Sports Book of the Year, and an NAACP Image Award.

Eig is a former staff writer for the Wall Street Journal where he remains a contributing writer and has written for the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Washington Post,, and others. Prior to the Wall Street Journal, he worked as a feature writer for Chicago magazine and as a news reporter for the Dallas Morning News and the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He has taught writing at Columbia College-Chicago and Northwestern University and has spoken to audiences at the Library of Congress, the National Archives, Harvard Medical School, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. His first book, Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig, won the Casey Award for best baseball book of the year. 

Eig has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon StewartFresh Air with Terry Gross, and in two Ken Burns documentaries: Prohibition and Jackie Robinson. He is currently working with Burns and Florentine Films in making a documentary on Muhammad Ali. Get details and add to your schedule.




Houghton Mifflin Harcourt