most people looking at this book have likely read dean karnazes "ultramarathon man" or one of his other books. while dean makes himself sound like a tough guy, he's no match for scott jurek.
the story of how scott started in the sport, changed his diet, went through a spiritual journey and made it all the way to the top is truly remarkable. if you're a marathoner but looking to up your game or take on a new challenge, this one will really open your mind.
This book was a great history of not only Jesse Owens, but how African Americans lived in the years just before World War II. The author does a great job of taking us right into the Olympics in Berlin. It provides a close up view on what is is like to be a member of a minority group in the run up to world class competition.
Agassi's book is awesome. It feels as if you have been in his tennis bag for 20 years. The stories and recollections are robust, and the narration is first rate. Just terrific.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
Many reviews offer comparisons of this book to Seabiscuit, appropriately so as the themes and narrative tone are remarkably similar. But I also see a strong resemblance to another American Olympic story that happened 4 decades later – our “Miracle on Ice” hockey team of 1980. In both cases global hostilities threatened Olympic boycotts, potentially crushing the once-in-a-lifetime dreams of humble college kids taking on the State subsidized titans of their sports. But the games were held, and against all odds (some of them suspicious in their advantages to the two Fascist teams) the kids rose to the occasion. This is not a spoiler – it’s well known that they win. The real drama is in the story that got them there in the first place. Brown writes that story effectively, developing the social, economic and political context, and fleshing out the characters: Coach Ulbrickson who struggled to find the right team chemistry among his talented rowers, employing crushingly superhuman training standards to ensure top conditioning. There is also shell builder George Pocock, who dispensed Yoda-like wisdom to the boys about the intangible qualities that make up a crew as opposed to a team. And of course the boys in the boat, whose own stories are compelling, especially Joe's, but several others are well highlighted.
Edward Herrmann’s flawless reading is smooth, clear and authoritative, yet also intimate in the telling of the very personal stories of Depression era America and early Third Reich Germany, as teams of rowers approached the race of a lifetime, that to the world was more than just a boat race. And just a side note - you can find video of the race on Youtube.