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on 22 March 2013
I read this book as I did like his adventure racing, and always support the Olympics. This book actually changed my take on him (used to find him a little annoying tbh). But he is one hell of a good lad, in literally coming back to life as he did, also, one hell of a good wife for seeing it through. It's a good read; I especially liked the input from his wife - it made the dialogue great and opens up a whole new World about head trauma victims. Like any other victims; Cancer in all it's forms, it's the ones around the individual that suffer equally as much, perhaps more. Reading what his whole family went through was sad, interesting but above all: Brutally honest! I like James Cracknell for that alone if nothing else. Good to see humility, and Cracknell puts himself out there on the pages of this book for anyone & all who read it to see. Caused by an absent-minded American lorry driver. The head trauma & how it's completely changed not just James Cracknells' life but that of all his family as well..
Having lived in the states' for a few years my wife & I totally understand this happening. Driving there is appalling! Americans can't drive - fact, period! We used to road cycle, and had many 'near-misses' there. One occasion my wife shouted at me as I was ahead of her. We were coming to a set of traffic lights that turned red. next I know a car pushes me into the kerb??!! I saw red & jumped off the bike to speak to the driver. Turned out to be an absent minded American woman who when asked what the hell was she doing replied; "well I wanted to get past you"...? I was literally putting a foot out to stop as I was 3 or so metres from the red lights!! Unbelievable but that's how they drive their huge station wagons & SUV's.
Back to the book. The operations, endless testing, unanswered questions...and it doesn't bring Cracknell back the way he was before the accident but that's the issue with anyone who suffers any form of head trauma. A hell of an endurance athlete, which, in many respects' served to help him claw his way back to as reasonable life as possible. Striking similarities with this book. But even if you just wanted an interesting read and want something 'real' to read, it's a great book. I don't want to spoil it so will say no more.
Good book, great read & good addition to your library.
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on 4 October 2015
Bought this as my son unfortunately he has suffered a brain injury and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all. Found this very insightful book via a link from headway the brain injury charity. It show the effects on a persons life after brain injury and shows the courage of James Cracknell and his immediate family and friends in how they have dealt with it and how they will have to continue to do this for the rest of their lives. Once you start reading it you won't want to put it down! His brain injury is always going to be with him as will unfortunately my sons but we can only be grateful that we still have them with us and show as much strength, courage and determination as they do to not let it hold them back.
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on 19 November 2015
Rowing and elite sport is a tough gig without any form of injury but the pay back is immense from camaraderie, aspiration and work ethic. This book clearly demonstrates the huge highs and low's of true grit and ambition. Both my children row and this book has been one of those they too have found fascinating, humbling and inspiring.
As an OT, who has worked both in the US and UK, the experiences of James, Bev, their family and friends resonates deeply with those I know or have worked with. This book provides honest insights about what significant and subtle life changes those with acquired brain injury experience but shows equally what hope, determination and resilience can achieve. A journey of emotion, not to be missed!!
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on 9 December 2012
Very moving and very touching book. Written by both James and Bev and that for me made it a great read. You could understand the mixed emotions they were and are both going through and it was compelling. They never ask the reader to feel sorry for them,rather it is written to share an experience that has changed their lives. I do so hope they can continue to work together so that they rebuild their family life to something special for all of them. As they say so often in their book, never to the way it was before but to what they want from now. Good luck to both of them, decent people..
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on 9 August 2015
Was really helpful reading this book and hearing what James and his wife Beverley went through and are still going through.
My brother suffered a brain injury at work two years ago at the age of 64.
He now lives in a care home as needs full times care.
He recently has started to make more progress but only because we have paid for a nuro physio to work with him.
Like many there is little real input and much rehaeilation that takes places once someone has left hospital. The NHS hasn't got the funds so head injurys get left.
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on 12 January 2014
I don't normally read biographical type books as they tend to be hugely biased. This is just a warts and all description of life pre and post a life changing accident. The book is written between James and his wife, with each having distinct entries. From James, you hear what a pig headed, stubborn, blinkered, selfish individual the Olympic Champion was. From his wife, you hear the same, but with additional humanity and warmth added that make you remember he's a likeable chap. His unrelenting motivation is beyond anything I can relate to and I found it fascinating to learn about. He references his team mates and 'famous' friends, but you can never quite work out whether he likes them or not, he just describes 'interactions' without emotion or judgement.

Moving to post accident, and the focus moves to his wife and family who actually seem to be most effected by the changes in James. It's heart breaking to read, but an absolute must. His wife received some really bad press about some of the comments she made in the weeks/months after the accident. Reading this, you are amazed that she didn't say more. It shows the strength of a real marriage and unconditional love. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health could never have been given so great a test.

I loved this book and know that I will be reading it frequently in the future for inspiration.
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on 16 March 2015
I thought the book was well worth reading.

It seemed to be an honest account of how an Olympic champion is made, the determination that makes you a top athlete, and then a thought provoking story post accident of how the brain injury can change you as a person.

Really enjoyed reading the book and would recommend to others.
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on 10 August 2013
I have just finished reading this book and I have loved reading about endurance athletes, explorers and the such like due to the determination, skill and sheer will power to come out on top. This book is by no means any different, in my opinion it shows some amazing feats of what the human body and mind can go through and how individuals deal with this.

It is hugely honest and open. In one sentence you are admiring how much of a winner James is, in the next you are laughing at a witty remark or something he said when recovering from the brain injury, then you have an overwhelming sense of sadness due to what he and his family have gone through.

By the end of the book, you will feel nothing but respect for this man but also his wife Bev who co-narrates the book. It just shows what people can get through with the love and support of friends and family.
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on 23 January 2018
Six years on since the 2012 London Olympics, and I sincerely hope that life has continued to improve for you all.
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on 10 January 2013
Loved reading this. A very honest, candid account of James' life pre and post TBI. I am an intensive care nurse leading on the care of brain injured patients in our unit over the last 8 years having also worked with the local branch of Headway during this time. I take only an armchair interest in most sports but find the personality traits of those who have reached the top of their game, fascinating and have great respect. Whilst reading this book I found myself thinking that many of the personality traits that James displayed prior to his accident, grit, determination and stubbornness, are exactly those traits that both Bev and James struggle with post injury. It's great that they have the opportunity and available resources to find ways of channelling these energies constructively. I can empathize with Bev as she tries to come to terms with the devastating changes to life as she knew it. I hope she continues to find the strength and patience to cope with a life that she could never have envisaged when she took her marriage vows. Reading James' thoughts, feelings and frustrations post his injury, my heart goes out to him and feel steadfastly that it is vital to ensure TBI patients receive optimum care. The brain is a marvellous organ and so little is known about its ability to recover following catastrophic insult. You are an inspiration James.
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