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Today We Die a Little: Emil Zátopek, Olympic Legend to Cold War Hero Paperback – 13 Apr 2017

4.9 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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  • Today We Die a Little: Emil Zátopek, Olympic Legend to Cold War Hero
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  • Feet in the Clouds: A Tale of Fell-Running and Obsession
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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Yellow Jersey (13 April 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224100351
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224100359
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"A wonderfully in-depth and often emotionally charged piece of writing" (Athletics Weekly)

"An astonishing achievement... There are few writers as adept at capturing so lyrically the utter and incomprehensible strangeness of distance running... A joy to read" (Literary Review)

"Before Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe, there was Emil Zátopek - a Czechoslovakian soldier turned long-distance runner turned Cold War victim. His four Olympic golds, 18 world records and Communist party career are all laid bare in this definitive account" (Shortlist)

"Reminds us of the pain and the glory behind every victory and the power of sport to bring people together and make history" (Martina Navratilova)

"Sport book of the year… A fascinating tale, showing all sides of Zátopek, injecting humanity and humour into a dramatic life" (Matt Butler i, Book of the Year)

Book Description

LONGLISTED FOR THE WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD

The definitive biography of one of the greatest, most extraordinary runners and Olympic heroes of all time.

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Format: Hardcover
Having been clueless about Zatopek for the first thirty something years of my life I came across this running colossus whilst reading Lore of Running. The depiction of his gruelling training regimens was startling as were his achievements, but more arresting was his kindness - and like everyone else I was spellbound by the true story of how he had given away one of his Gold medals in a very low key fashion to an athlete he felt was worthy of it. This was all several years ago and I have kept my fingers crossed in all that time that someone would do this man justice by writing an updated and detailed modern biography.
Today We Die A Little is one of two, yes two, biographies to have recently come out about Zatopek. Overkill? Given the man, probably not, but which one to choose?
The reason I picked up this one in particular is that the author Richard Askwith is the author of one of my favourite books - Feet in the Clouds - which is both an ink based portrait of past running greats whose canvas is framed by the Lake District, but also a narrative account of Askwith's attempt to do the extreme endurance 'event' The Bob Graham Round.
The book is a standard biographical 'cradle to grave' account of Zatopek's life starting off with a customary 'make or break' flash-forward moment at some point in the athlete's future before reeling back to the beginning. We learn about Emil initially being a reluctant runner who had to be dragged outdoors to compete before discovering his latent talent. This led to local, national and then international fame.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well researched, well written, easy to read about a running legend. On top of inventing interval training for himself with many high speed sessions of 400m to build speed and stamina he beat everyone from 5000 to 10000m. Plus his charm and genuine interest in his opponents makes him exceptional. The greatest difficulties came from politics...Great is the victory, but greater is the friendship!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Purchased as gift for a life long runner. The recipient tells me it is an excellent book; well written and following through Zatopek's life (not just the 'glory' years). The book was delivered on time, in excellent condition in appropriate packaging
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Quite possibly the best running book I've ready. Primarily down to the exquisite care that Richard has taken to research and underpin every fact, but also the way that he has intertwined personal opinion with carefully selected quotes from other commentators, and those aforementioned facts. I am interested in Richard's opinion, as he took a year to research the book, spoke to everyone who had been close to Zatopek who was still alive in 2015, and has clearly done a lot of thinking. My ONLY criticism is that the "Epilogue: Gold dust" is a little rambling and self indulgent, but it's not enough of a problem to prevent this book being a sure fire 5 star read.

The best accolade: I wasn't a Zatopek fan before I read this book, but I am now!
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Format: Hardcover
Finished this today. Can't praise it highly enough.

I love "Feet In The Clouds", Askwith's first book. I have issues with some of the views he expressed in "Running Free". But this... this is another masterpiece.

His admiration for Zátopek is duly spelt out, yet the story is told in an objective manner. And what a story it is...
...doubts rose over Farah because of his association with Salazar. History pushed Zátopek towards far more damaging associations. Which Askwith examines thoroughly, objectively - and, as far as I can tell, successfully.

But that's how the story ends. Before that, Askwith depicts Zátopek's youth, his start as a runner and his dominance over middle-distance running and then the marathon, expertly placing it into the historical context. Because, as with Jesse Owens, here you have a runner (albeit of a very different kind) who dominated his time whose triumphs impacted, and were impacted by, regimes that went beyond training and nutrition ones.

Was reading it the day Mo won the 10,000. Finished it ahead of his 5,000 final. Now to wonder whether he'll soon try stepping up to 42,195 in a more committed manner.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A well-written and totally engaging book about a real running hero who was also a man of honour. The author has managed to accumulate a wealth of anecdotes from people who were lucky to have known Zatopek both in his prime and in his twilight years including Zatopek's wife Dana. The book is not a one-dimensional account of hero-worship. It also discusses Zatopek's foibles and the ambiguity of Zatopek's view of the communist regime of the time. I own a copy of Stampfl's book on running. This is where I first read about Zatopek. Even though I was only a 12 year old 100 metre sprinter at the time competing for my school, nevertheless I found the tales of Zatopek very inspiring. In an age where athletes wear aerodynamic clothing, custom-made running shoes and have physiotherapists, nutritionists and masseurs, it's refreshing to read about someone who carried out training runs in deep snow and sometimes ran in combat boots. I defy anyone who reads this book not to enjoy it. Before now, I'd never read anything by Mr. Askwith, however on the strength of this particular book, I will definitely be searching out his other books on running.
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