From New York Times bestselling author Leigh Montville, this riveting and definitive new biography pulls back the red, white, and blue cape on a cultural icon—and reveals the unknown, complex, and controversial man known to millions around the world as Evel Knievel.
Evel Knievel was a high-flying daredevil, the father of extreme sports, the personification of excitement and danger and showmanship . . . and in the 1970s Knievel represented a unique slice of American culture and patriotism. His jump over the fountains at Caesar’s Palace led to a crash unlike anything ever seen on television, and his attempt to rocket over Snake River Canyon in Idaho was something only P. T. Barnum could have orchestrated. The dazzling motorcycles and red-white-and-blue outfits became an integral part of an American decade. Knievel looked like Elvis . . . but on any given Saturday afternoon millions tuned in to the small screen to see this real-life action hero tempt death.
But behind the flash and the frenzy, who was the man? Bestselling author Leigh Montville masterfully explores the life of the complicated man from the small town of Butte, Montana. He delves into Knievel’s amazing place in pop culture, as well as his notorious dark side—and his complex and often contradictory relationships with his image, the media, his own family, and his many demons. Evel Knievel’s story is an all-American saga, and one that is largely untold. Leigh Montville once again delivers a definitive biography of a one-of-a-kind sports legend.
Best-selling author Montville (The Big Bam) takes on the controversial daredevil Evel Knievel revealing an intimate, often alarming, and ultimately sad portrait of a man who lived precariously, both on and off his motorcycle. Deemed by Montville the first reality TV star, Evel's career dates back to a stunt on ABC'S Wide World of Sports in 1967. A former insurance salesman and small-town criminal, Knievel became famous by advertising himself, often falsely; during a press conference to announce his jump over Idaho's Snake River Canyon, he accepted a $6 million check that turned out to be promotional nonsense. Montville's riveting journalistic style includes memorable scenes, many starring young women suggestively attired, Knievel's walking cane loaded with Wild Turkey bourbon and employees verbally trampled by the man's unpredictable behavior. The author recounts stories with eye-popping details, including Knievel's failed jumps over the fountains of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and over the Snake River Canyon. The combination of Knievel's rambunctious lifestyle and Montville's lively prose produces a page-turner almost as exhilarating as landing a record-breaking jump.