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Bikila: Ethiopia's Barefoot Olympian [Paperback]

Tim Judah
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 July 2008
On 10 September 1960, Abebe Bikila, an Ethiopian, won the Rome Olympic marathon running barefoot. He was the first black African to win gold at the Olympics. Overnight he became a sporting hero, an African hero and, for many, the first black African they had ever heard of. Bikila was a man of his times - a symbol of hope in the new Africa.
Now, for the first time, his true story is told. Central to that tale is the extraordinary life of another man - a Swede - Onni Niskanen, Bikila's trainer, a soldier, an adventurer. Together they took the sporting world by storm. Bikila was the athlete and the champion but Niskanen was the architect of his success. Theirs was a most unlikely of friendships and yet their success dazzled the world.
Tim Judah's research took him to Ethiopia, Rome, Sweden and Switzerland, where he interviewed those who knew Bikila and Niskanen. Much of their story has never been revealed until now. The book also contains pictures never seen before from Niskanen's private photo album.
Charity: Part of the proceeds from the sales of this book will go to Radda Barnen - Save the Children Sweden in Ethiopia. Between 1972 and 1981, it was headed by Onni Niskanen, Bikila's trainer, who then continued to advise it until his death. The charity are the custodians of Niskanen's private photo album, the source of many of the previously unseen pictures in the book

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Product details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Reportage Press (3 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0955830214
  • ISBN-13: 978-0955830211
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.7 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,120,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

From the Publisher

For the first time the true story of Abebe Bikila's life is revealed.

About the Author

Tim Judah is one of the country s most prestigious foreign correspondents. Although well-known for his coverage of the Balkans, he has reported from Africa for over twenty years. He has broadcast widely and written for The Times, The Economist, and the New York Review of Books. Judah is the author of the prize winning The Serbs: History, Myth, and the Destruction of Yugoslavia (1997), Kosovo: War and Revenge (2000) and Kosovo: All You Need to Know (2008).

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Few Silly Errors 16 Sep 2008
Format:Paperback
This is a short book of 176 widely spaced pages, which you will easily read in a few hours. Central to the story is not Bekila but his coach and mentor Onni Niskanen, who emerges as an enigmatic and fascinating character, with ideas about training for long distance which were way ahead of their time.
Most of the information about Bekila comes from a book written by his daughter Tsige Abebe. Bekila was the first world renowned African athlete (closely followed by Kip Keino), but that's pretty much it. Success went to his head, alcohol problems followed and he died from the after effects of a motorcar accident.
Slightly irritating are the errors; the men's marathon takes place on the last day of an Olympic Games and Barry Magee, bronze medal winner in the Rome Olympics marathon, is not Irish - he's a Kiwi.
On the plus side, part of the proceeds from the book will go to Radda Barnen Save the Children in Ethiopia, a charity headed by Niskanen.
And hats off to Reportage Press for publishing books the big publishers wouldn't touch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book 20 Sep 2008
Format:Paperback
Tim Judah writes an excellent biographical book about a superstar athlete, Abebe Bikila, whom has not had enough written about him given his athletic prowess. His book attempts to factually tell the story of Bikila which is something that Paul Rambali appeared to not even attempt when he wrote his book about the same runner. Judah's book also does a superb biographical job telling about Bikila's coach, Niskanen, whom otherwise is forgotten in history.
With so little written about this great athlete, this is a MUST READ BOOK!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellant Book 10 Sep 2008
Format:Paperback
A very good book,a wealth of information on Onni Niskanen and Abebe Bikila,plus a lot of new photos from Onni Niskanens private collection.
Paul
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book 20 Sep 2008
By Jerry Marsh - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Tim Judah writes an excellent biographical book about a superstar athlete, Abebe Bikila, whom has not had enough written about him given his athletic prowess. His book attempts to factually tell the story of Bikila which is something that Paul Rambali appeared to not even attempt when he wrote his book about the same runner. Judah's book also does a superb biographical job telling about Bikila's coach, Niskanen, whom otherwise is forgotten in history.
With so little written about this great athlete, this is a MUST READ BOOK!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Marathon Legend 5 Dec 2008
By C. Thwaites - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Abebe Bikila was the first African to win an Olympic marathon and the first (and certainly the only drug-free) to win twice in succession. This highly readable book uncovers some little known facts about his Swedish trainer and the personal side of an enigmatic man. It also touches on the tragedy of Mamo Wolde. Well written. A must for students of distance running.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Ethiopian Hero 19 May 2013
By Tadesse - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A well written book about an Ethiopian hero. It is nice to see such a well written book on a man who is revered in my country of Ethiopia, especially considering the man comes from a very obscure farming village. It seemed a long shot for someone like that, who was more interested in football (soccer), to win a gold medal running a marathon, and barefoot none the less. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 21 July 2014
By Marc - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Interesting for those of us who like to run distances. I enjoyed it.
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