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Download Evel: The High-Flying Life of Evel Knievel: American Showman, Daredevil, and Legend Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Evel: The High-Flying Life of Evel Knievel: American Showman, Daredevil, and Legend Audiobook, by Leigh Montville Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (16 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Leigh Montville Narrator: Danny Campbell Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2011 ISBN: 9780307738936
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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.

From the Hardcover edition. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • Bestselling author and veteran sports columnist Montville (The Mysterious Montague: A True Tale of Hollywood, Golf, and Armed Robbery, 2008, etc.) points to the first biography of flamboyant risk-taker Robert Craig Knievel (1938–2007) as a cheaply commissioned, “cockeyed” screenplay (George Hamilton starred, angling for a career revival) based on “a collection of tall tales designed by the man himself to make people perk up and pay attention.” It was 1971, and while the film critically tanked, the publicity skyrocketed Knievel’s his popularity. Montville’s version ably describes his childhood raised by his grandparents in depression-era Butte, Mont., and then as a young, street-educated loner and general troublemaker. Greatly entertaining and anecdotal, the narrative covers the controversial aspects of the high flier’s history, tracking Knievel’s fearlessness as record-breaking smaller motorcycle tricks gave way to power-tripping death-wish jumps marked by countless broken bones, hospitalizations and even a coma—all observed by wife Linda and their three children. Whether cruising the talk-show circuit in a zebra-striped leisure suit, crashing onto the pavement at Caesar’s Palace or serving six months in jail for assaulting an event promoter, Knievel consistently treated his adoring (often aghast) fan base to reckless extravaganzas, increasingly perilous stunts and erratic, unbecoming behavior. Montville confidently narrates Knievel’s daredevilry with characteristic panache and presents his subject as a “one man ethical dilemma” who spent the bulk of his career testing the limits of his physical prowess with an unquenchable thirst for fame and fortune. A biography as sensationalist and superior as the daredevil himself. Kirkus
  • [Ted Williams is] the complete package—a triumph, unreservedly the best biography of this larger-than-life American. Boston Globe
  • It is unlikely that any reader could view Ted Williams as just a ballplayer ever again. New York Times Book Review
  • [At the Altar of Speed is]…both a tribute and a candid look at [Dale] Earnhardt. [Montville] has succeeded wonderfully. San Antonio Express
  • Montville’s solid reporting is augmented by a whimsical style that weaves Earnhardt’s life, racing career, business ventures, and impact on racing fans into a rich tapestry of racing. The book delivers. Times Daily
  • [A] vivid, intimate account. Montville’s unique voice…makes old yarns seem new. Sports Illustrated
  • Montville is a wonderful storyteller and Ruth’s story, from Baltimore street urchin to international celebrity is indisputably amazing…a fascinating tale, alternately happy and sad, and always artfully written. Chicago Tribune
  • Montville fully imparts that sense of danger as well as Knievel’s mixture of singularly unpleasant personalities—thief, drunkard, brawler, extortionist, womanizer, snake-oil salesman, all-purpose con man—that somehow only enhance the legend. In the end, readers probably will not love or even like Knievel, but they’ll know the seamier side of the American dream that much better.” Booklist
  • [EVEL] goes beyond the action-figure image, painting Knievel in all his contradictions....Now, in Montville’s capable hands, Knievel soars again in all his profane, self-deluded glory. Sports Illustrated
  • In the late 1960s and early 1970s…the coolest man on earth was Evel Knievel….Leigh Montville brings him vividly back in an outlandishly entertaining new biography.” New York Post
  • “If Knievel lived ‘as if his pants were on fire,’ then his biographer writes like a house on fire…in describing the complex, contradictory stuntman’s battles with the demons that would ultimately destroy him, [Montville] pulls out all the stops. The Free Lance-Star 
  • In Evel [Leigh Montville] writes in a florid high style, as if pulling a wheelie across every page. This can be smart, rowdy fun. Mr. Montville tacks the young Knievel to the wall, wonderfully.…He catches the way the wingspans of Knievel’s jacket collars were the ‘same as a good-size pterodactyl…Evel is never dull. New York Times
  • If you were a young boy, like I was, in the summer of 1974, you talked about two things: Evel Knievel…and Hank Aaron…I hadn’t thought much about Evel Knievel in the intervening 35 years until I picked up Leigh Montville’s awesome new biography…you’ll love Montville’s rollicking good tale—told with an Irishman’s wink and a nod—of how Knievel blazed across the American consciousness in the late 60’s and early 70s….Montville nails it just right. The Hollywood Reporter

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mike | 2/6/2014

    " This book reads like a night of drinking, swapping stories that seem obviously embellished/improbable. Once finished, it felt like a bit of a blur, my head hazy, wondering did that really just happen. An incredible work by Montville. His style is so unique and engaging. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Quinn | 1/26/2014

    " I guess I should have expected a bit of grit with this guy. I had to stop due to language and sexual content. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Candy | 1/13/2014

    " This is an incredible story about someone that I frankly didn't have too much interest in---it turned out to be one of the best biographies I've ever read! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David | 11/14/2013

    " Awesome book.. really unbelievable character and story. Highly recommend. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 F.J. Lennon | 11/12/2013

    " Was really looking forward to this one, but I feel like this bio. only scratched the surface. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Will Manuel | 9/27/2013

    " This book was amazing. I forgot how much my 8 year old self worshipped Mr. Kneivel. This tome was very enlightening about his life. Also says a lot about the entertainment consumption of the American public. Even if you weren't a fan, read it. Tells lots about our culture. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 G Scott | 8/7/2013

    " Interesting but kind of slanted toward the negative. Overall it's a pretty interesting read that I enjoyed. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lynn | 7/14/2013

    " well written book! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dave Martin | 6/8/2013

    " Fascinating and repellent. Clearly some sort of personality disorder--narcissistic, amoral, egomaniacal. Supposedly found God in the last year of his life. Let's hope so. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shay | 4/10/2013

    " Well written and interesting, but I think I liked him better before I knew this much about him. Especially enjoyed the stories about Butte, MT...was there when reading and was able to get some more "background" story from Ezra's grandpa. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ty Blaker | 2/18/2013

    " Great book. I grew up watching the stuntman on t.v. as a child. And I even had the toy motorcycle. The book tells "all"; the good, the bad and the ugly. I borrowed the book from the library (e-book version). Read it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Scott | 2/12/2013

    " Excellent, insightful read into the life of the famous daredevil. The guy was a complete mess, and I enjoyed reading about every chapter of this sociopath's life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tim | 9/17/2012

    " First few chapters horrible written and stilted, but after that picked up the pace and got more streamlined in the prose. A blast from my 7-'s kid past. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ray Charbonneau | 2/2/2012

    " The facts, mixed unevenly with bits of snark. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rob | 12/13/2011

    " Another cherished childhood idol down the drain! A lying, thieving, wife beating narcissist! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David | 5/24/2011

    " An awful human being with a fascinating story. "

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About the Author

Leigh Montville, a former columnist at the Boston Globe and former senior writer at Sports Illustrated, is the author of the bestselling Ted Williams, At the Altar of Speed, and Why Not Us?. He lives in Boston.

About the Narrator

Danny Campbell is an Earphones Award–winning narrator and an actor who has appeared in CBS’ The Guardian, the films A Pool, a Fool, and a Duel and Greater Than Gravity, and in over twenty-five commercials. He is a company member of the Independent Shakespeare Company in Los Angeles and is an adjunct faculty member at Santa Monica College.