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Feel No Fear: The Power, Passion, and Politics of a Life in Gymnastics Hardcover – May 1994


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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Hyperion Books (May 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078686012X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786860128
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 16.5 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 757,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alexa on 14 Feb 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This autobiography follows Bela Karolyi from when he is a child up until just after the 1992 Olympic Games and includes two sections of photos. The first thing I have to say is that the book cover is quite deceiving - the cover images show Bela and Dominique Moceanu yet Dominique is not mentioned even once in the entire book. This is confusing but is also a shame as I think some of Bela's best moments were with Dominique and Kerri Strug and would have liked to have read about his life up until at least 1996.

Around half the book is set while Bela is in Romania and the other half after he defected to America. I found the Romania half the most interesting as he gets into quite a lot of detail. The second half isn't so good. It felt more like he was just listing the gymnasts he worked with , what their personality was like, what they won and then on to the next batch of gymnasts. I think there was only one or two chapters about both Mary Lou and Kim Zmeskal and only a few paragraphs on Kristie Phillips and Kerri Strug. This is compared to almost the whole first half of the book with Nadia coming in and out of the story as well as other Romanian gymnasts. It also becomes quite clear which gymnast he likes and which ones he doesn't.

By the end of the book Bela became very frustrating. He barely mentions Marta at all - you would be forgiven for thinking she didn't work as a coach - and his daughter only comes up a couple of times in the whole book. However, even more frustrating than this is that Bela comes across as very arrogant. The man is never wrong! If his gymnast loses it is someone else's fault - the judges were unfair, the crowd was against them, the organisation was sabotaging them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nicola on 7 May 2010
Format: Hardcover
Bela Karolyi's ghosted autobiography covers his upbringing in Communist Rumania, where he coached Nadia Comaneci to Olympic Gold in gymnastics, and his defection to the US, where he successfully resumed his coaching with Mary Lou Retton.

Though it will appeal mostly to gymnastics fans, in some ways, the gymnastics in Feel No Fear feels incidental. It's the rest of Karolyi's story that is compelling. In particular, his account of finding himself in a new and difficult-to-navigate society where he didn't speak the language makes for powerful reading. The gymnastics element of the book, however, never really comes to life. It's a book about coaching in general more than about specifically coaching gymnastics, and there's a strong sense that Karolyi would have been just as happy coaching a different sport.

Karolyi is not the most likeable of narrators. There's one moment early in the book when he appeals to a classmate for extensive help when trying to gain entrance to university. She helps Karolyi with his entrance exams and, as a result, he gets in - and she doesn't. Karolyi's sweeping arrogance is sometimes too much to take. However, the book does go a long way to adding nuance to a man who is viewed as the stereotypical Soviet tyrant coach.

The views on coaching that Karolyi outlines in Feel No Fear are broadly admirable. However, there's some notable white space that remains around his interactions with some American gymnasts. There are those he gushes about - Mary Lou Retton, Kim Zmeskal - and those where his silence is deafening. Quite often the words, "[X] did not compete in this meet, because of an injury" appear in the book and never, ever elaborated upon. It's hard not to feel that the rigours of gymnastics on young bodies are being glossed over.
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By simon mansley on 11 Oct 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
very good.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is one of the GREATEST gymnastics books EVER written! 23 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It tells the entire story of Bela Karolyi's life and it tells the stories of the many famous gymnasts he has coached. The book makes you appreciate this man more than anything else could! I read it before I met him at Karolyi's camp and it made it THAT MUCH better!!
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Powerful Book 11 May 2004
By Elisabeth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book was written by Bela Karolyi, the Romanian coach who has coached such gymnastics legends as Nadia Cominici, Mary Lou Retton, Kim Zmeskal, Dominique Moceanu and Kerri Strug.
This book tells you about his life in Romania, training Nadia, defecting to America, and all the way to the 1992 Olympics.
Before I didn't know much about Bela or about the girls he had trained. But after reading this book, I now know much more about him and his wife, Marta.
If you want to know more about this memorable coach, be sure to read this book!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Bela exagerates results many times, but a good book overall. 30 Mar 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I thought the book was great, if you love Bela
if you don't or are a true gymnastic stat follower
you might not, because Bela includes many of his
personal beliefs on many competitions, some of which
are trully exagerated and completly from the point
of view of a coach. Which is what i believe the point
of the book was. Overall it was a cool book to read.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A true inspiration 15 Nov 1998
By Faith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read this book a while back. However, I often refer to it for the inspiration, and sometimes quote it to my students (I am a figure skating coach). Bela is a legendary coach, and it was interesting to find out about his coaching, and life philosophies. I hope I could be like him one day. The part of the book that especially moved me is when Bela found out that more than half of his students became p.e. teachers.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Bela is the BEST! 3 Oct 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Bela Karolyi is such a inspirational man to take what little he had and make winners. I had the advantage of meeting this man this summer. He seems like a father figure with strong discipline and a positive effort. I always loved it when he 'You can Do it! " Which is all so true when you use your body in a positive way in the sport of gymnastics or any other sport.
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