Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This one will run and run, 4 Feb 2005
This review is from: The Perfect Distance: Ovett and Coe: The Record Breaking Rivalry (Hardcover)
This has got to be one of the best books ever written on athletics. And given the subject matter, the rivalry between two such different characters as Seb Coe and Steve Ovett, the book strays well beyond its sporting context. As the author points out, it was a touchstone for a formative era in Britain, Coe representing the Thatcherite strand in politics, and Ovett harking back to the good old labour days, which were about to disappear forever.
Books on sport have developed enormously over the last few years, since Nick Hornby's appraisal of the cultural significance of fandom, whether Cambridge Utd or Arsenal, and Butcher's book contributes to an update of a genre that has never really been given much serious treatment beyond shallow biography.
As a journalistic enterprise, it succeeds admirably, both principals were abviously interview in depth, as were all their rivals, domestic and international, from Steve Cram and Peter Elliott to John Walker, Eamonn Coghlan, Steve Scott and Thomas Wessinghage.
But where Butcher scores, he does not take the quotes at face value, rather he evaluates them, puts them into context, and gives his own often ascerbic view. He also puts it all into an historical perspective, with lots trenchant (and amusing) opinion. This is exactly what biography should be. It would be an insult to call this a sports book, or a book on sport, it's far more than that.
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