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A daring investigation into the mysterious death of Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston, set against the dawn of the 1970s, when the mob was fighting to keep control of the Las Vegas Strip, Richard Nixon was launching America's first war on heroin, and boxing was in its glory days.

On January 5, 1971, Sonny Liston was found dead in his home - of an apparent heroin overdose. But no one close to Liston believed that his death was acci­dental. Digging deep into a life that Liston tried hard to hide, investigative journalist Shaun Assael treats the boxer's death as a cold case. The result is a page-turning who­dunit that evokes a glorious and grimy era of Las Vegas.

Elvis Presley was playing two shows a night at the International. Howard Hughes was running his empire from the penthouse suite of the Desert Inn. And middle America was flocking to the Strip, transforming it from an exclusive playground for the mob to a mecca for corporate dollars. But the city was also rotting from within. Heroin was pouring over the border from Mexico, and the segregated Westside was on the cusp of a race war. The cops, brutally violent, were barely holding it together.

Driving through town with the top of his pink Cadillac down, Sonny Liston was the one celebrity who was unafraid to bridge the two sides of Las Vegas. Cashing in on his fading notoriety in the casinos, he was dealing drugs, working for a crime syndicate, and trying to break into Hollywood - all with a boxer's faith that he could duck any threat, slip any punch. Heroin addiction was the only knockout blow he didn't see coming.

The Murder of Sonny Liston takes a fresh look at the legendary boxer, the town he called home, and one of America's most enduring mysteries.



About the Author

Shaun Assael

Shaun Assael is one of the original staff members at ESPN Magazine and a member of the network's Enterprise & Investigations Group. He is a regular contributor to ESPN's Outside the Lines and has looked into subjects as varied as the mysterious hanging of a black high school athlete in North Carolina, the FBI's investigation into FIFA, professional tennis, NASCAR, World Wrestling Entertainment, and the myriad scandals involving performance enhancing drugs.

Although he started out as a police reporter, Shaun has taken some wild rides in sports. He spent a season working as a member of three NASCAR teams for his book, "WIDE OPEN" (1998) . He also chronicled the rags-to-riches story (with co-writer Mike Mooneyham) of America's great showman, Vince McMahon, for the New York Times best-seller, "SEX, LIES, AND HEADLOCKS" (2002) . And he put a decade's worth of reporting on PED's into STEROID NATION (2007) , which the Guardian called "a rip roaring good rock'n'roll read" and "the classic American drug story."

His new book, "THE MURDER OF SONNY LISTON", is a four-year investigation into one of the sports' world's biggest mysteries.

A native New Yorker, Shaun now makes his home in North Carolina.



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