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Running with Fire: The True Story of Chariots of Fire Hero Harold Abrahams [Paperback]

Mark Ryan , Foreword by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

12 April 2012
Immortalised in the film 'Chariots of Fire', Harold Abrahams remains one of the all-time-great British Olympians. But his true story, told for the first time in this official biography, is in many ways even more dramatic and moving than the distorted version previously seen on the big screen. Although it is true that Abrahams overcame anti-Semitism to become Britain's first 100 metres Olympic champion in 1924, Mark Ryan's powerful book reveals just how much more Harold suffered - and had to sacrifice - on a personal level before he reached the top. His book how disgracefully Harold was treated by his own side in the build-up to Hitler's Berlin Olympics of 1936. Two remarkable love stories provide the back-drop to Abrahams' struggle to reach these two historic Games, first as an athlete and then as a pioneering broadcaster. Both romances highlight the mental fragility usually masked by Harold's physical prowess and apparent confidence. As the story races on, the reader is able to share Abrahams' excitement as he realises that Roger Bannister has what it takes to break the four-minute-mile barrier, and befriends the runner who soon begins his assault on the "Everest of athletics." And finally, Ryan shows how Harold not only helped to shape the modern-day rules of the sport as an influential administrator, but also did more than any man to make athletics popular in this country. In the build-up to London 2012, there has never been a better time to celebrate Harold Abrahams' unique story.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Robson Press (12 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849542899
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849542890
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 421,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"With the Olympics almost upon us, what better book to remind us of a time when sport was about passion and sacrifice" --Daily Mail

"Mark Ryan doesn t gloss over the imperfections of this chippy man, but his sympathetic approach celebrates the runner rather than the reactionary" --Independent on Sunday

About the Author

Mark Ryan is the acclaimed author of For the Glory, which was shortlisted for the 2010 William Hill Awards, and a biography of Fabio Capello.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Mark Ryan's biography of Harold Abrahams is really the only biography book available on the man, so we're quite fortunate it is so good.

Extensively researched and written with circumspection yet wonderful insight and a warm and personal style, the very readable and enjoyable book gives a fair and well-rounded view of Harold -- idiosyncrasies and all. Fortunately, Harold was a well-meaning and honorable and generous person, with high ideals and concerned about his fellow man, so his mild warts are well matched by his innate goodness and frankness and charm.

Harold was a quite interesting person after all, and the book has an excellent developmental arc, and plentiful details on his athletics, persona, personal life and romances, and post-racing and extra-curricular careers. The book is laced with informative direct quotes from Harold and others, and also includes numerous photos. The book also fortunately dispels several myths that have arisen about Harold over the past 30 years.

This is an excellent book for anybody who loves Chariots of Fire, any runners (especially sprinters and long-jumpers), and anyone interested in Harold (or his wife Sybil Evers, or even his brothers or children) or the Olympics. It's a great read -- warm and personal and intriguing while always sticking to the verifiable facts.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Very good read 13 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great book which covers very well the life and times of this national sporting icon. Would recommend without a doubt.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Champion biography 1 July 2013
This is a marvellously detailed account of Harold Abrahams, the 100-metre Olympic gold medallist who was the subject of Chariots of Fire. When on the subject of the film, Ryan points out the inconsistencies and dramatic license taken by the director. However, that is only at the end of a through biography which takes us through Abrahams' early life, running career, injury and post-competitor life. Ryan seems to have left no stone left unturned, and has interviewed many people who knew Abrahams at the various moments of his life. A long life which was filled to the brim, Abrahams was an interesting character and Chariots of Fire made sure that he hasn't been forgotten by history. This book will also add to Abrahams' legacy. Having read this soon after a similar biography of Eric Liddell, I can only conclude that this is the far better book.
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This was a very good book. The main body was about Harold Abraham from birth to the 1924 Olympics in Paris when he won the 100 metres in an Olympic final. The book is well written and researched, and Mark Ryan has used eye witnesses well in recounting the story. The author is not bombastic in his views about Harold Abraham, and in many cases lets the reader decide on the evidence that is available. There are some interesting incidents, perhaps the most noteworthy is the role that Abrahams played in the role of timekeeper in the epic first sub-4 minute mile in 1954,it would never have been allowed to stand nowadays, there would be lots of statements about lessons being learnt and it never happening again, but in the great scheme of things so what .For anyone interested in the history of the Olympic Games and its development to what it is now, and the development of a pivotal character in that development then this is a book that you will enjoy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars chariots of fire 28 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I saw the original film many times when it came out, but this book is the true story and much better than the film in my opinion.
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