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The Stories behind the Photographs

The best-known sports photographer of the last fifty years recounts riveting, behind-the-scenes stories of some fifty iconic images of American popular culture, with subjects ranging from sports legends, to current events, to presidents and celebrities

Series: Focus on American History, Don Carleton, series editor

April 2016
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400 pages | 7.25 x 9.5 |

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Neil Leifer is the best-known sports photographer of the past half century. Beginning in 1960, his pictures have regularly appeared in every major national magazine, including the Saturday Evening Post, Look, LIFE, Newsweek, and, most often, Sports Illustrated and Time, and his photographs have run on over two hundred Sports Illustrated, Time, and People covers. Leifer has photographed sixteen Olympic Games, fifteen Kentucky Derbies, countless World Series, the first twelve Super Bowls, four FIFA World Cups, and every important heavyweight title fight since Ingemar Johansson beat Floyd Patterson in 1959. He has photographed his favorite subject, Muhammad Ali, at thirty-five of his fights, including all the big ones.

Now, in Relentless, Leifer takes us behind the scenes of some fifty of his most iconic pictures. Starting with his shot of Baltimore Colt Alan Ameche scoring the game-winning touchdown against the New York Giants during sudden death overtime in the 1958 NFL Championship game at Yankee Stadium—taken on Leifer’s sixteenth birthday—he tells enthralling, often hilarious stories of getting to the right place at the right time to capture many of the legendary athletes of the twentieth century, including Mickey Mantle, Arthur Ashe, Willie Mays, Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Namath, and Arnold Palmer, as well as shooting presidential and celebrity portraits and covering a variety of subjects for Time. Recapping both an incredibly successful career and the transformation of photojournalism since the era of the great photo magazines, Relentless effectively chronicles fifty years of American popular culture..


“In a social media world that imposes character limits, the power of the visual grows more important and perhaps no one in our sporting history has harnessed it so capably—and relentlessly—as Neil Leifer.”
U.S. Sports History

“If you are a sports fan, Neil Leifer’s pictures have been shaping your impressions and memories for five decades.”
Bob Costas, NBC Sports

“Chances are you have seen a photograph taken by Neil Leifer. After all, he’s been taking pictures around the world for more than forty years. But it’s not just his productivity that sets Neil apart and makes his work so memorable. It is his relentless pursuit of the larger meaning and the inner truth of his subjects that distinguishes his photography.”
Tom Brokaw, NBC News

“Neil has taken some of the greatest photos you’ll ever see, even if you’ve seen them before.”
Yogi Berra, baseball legend

“Neil Leifer’s work is the quintessence of great sports photography. It makes you hold your breath for a split second, just as you do when you’re experiencing a great sports moment in real life.”
Jerry Seinfeld, comedian

“Neil Leifer’s photographs chronicle sport as well as any journalist’s words. His photograph of Muhammad Ali standing over the fallen Sonny Liston is the most legendary sports photograph of the twentieth century.”
Frank Deford, author and journalist

“Neil was most definitely the best sports photographer of his generation.”
Harry Benson, photographer

“If you mix together equal parts of persistence, exuberance, talent, chutzpah, tenacity, excellence, and generosity, you will discover the magic of Neil Leifer. I have known him for over forty years, and I don’t know anyone who is better at what he does, and who has more fun doing it, than Neil. I’m proud to have him as a friend and colleague.”
David Hume Kennerly, Pulitzer Prize–winning photographer

“Neil is relentless, irrepressible, and irresistible. He has invited me twice to join him at Rao’s, where he has treated me to a fabulous evening filled with wonderful food, wine, and sparkling conversation. At each, I have committed to a documentary, leading me to question who is treating whom. But, in the end, the treat is Neil and the great work he creates.”
John Skipper, president of ESPN