I picked this book up after watching a recent interview with Ian Thorpe. I didn't know much about swimming or the man himself, but I was stuck by how differently he spoke when compared to other sports people who have this tendency to give robotic answers to journalists.
He describes swimming with real passion. He even makes the technical aspects of the sport seem interesting - I didn't realise there was so much to it!! He speaks with honesty about his success. He acknowledges that he really was a sensational swimmer, but he doesn't make the reader feel that he is better than any other person for this. The only other autobiography I have read by an Australian athlete is Greg Norman's book The Way of the Shark
and he was disgustingly arrogant to the point I had to book the book down after reading through the first few chapters.
Ian also talks about his interests outside swimming which are very different to what you might expect from the typical alpha male athletes. He is a fan of the arts and fashion, he likes things that are `aesthetically pleasing'. But what really made this a great book is the way he explores his emotions, and his political and social opinions. He talks about racial disadvantage in Australia with real passion. He is brutally honest about the low points in his life and the emotional strain that celebrities and elite athletes have to endure.
All in all a very interesting read, even for someone who like me knows or has little interest in swimming.