on 22 April 2004
I rushed out to buy this book after enjoying the BBC television film aboutthe momentous race and agree with Mr Wooldridge that it is a a tour deforce of elegant sports writing. To those who do not know this is a bookabout the first mile run in below four minutes. It is written by a man ofequivocal Cary Grant good looks who has the dashing esprit de corps of theheroes of Chariots of Fire. Mr Bryant was himself, as he points outmodestly, a runner of feline elegance. He was not in the same super leagueas the heroes of whom he writes. Poetic he is however. His words dance andjig like atheletes running. He writes with authority as a man who hashimself pushed his feeble body to the limits and beyond. Reading this bookmade me wonder if Mr Bryant himself had it in him to be an Immortal. No isthe answer. As he himself says he had a long rangy style of running. Hesays with daring honesty and not a little brio that he did not have therequisite "inner strength" and was "a weakling" by comparison to Bannisterand Chataway. But this magnificent book is an ample memorial. He should beproud of it!
on 3 March 2014
The quest for the four minute mile has caught the imagination of runners ever since Walter George began to push times down in the late nineteenth century. In this book, Bryant sets the scene over the first half by describing the gradual reduction in the time taken to complete a competitive mile by George, Binks, Nurmi and the rest. The second half then describes Roger Bannister’s achievement at Oxford in 1954 – a time of 3:59.4 (hence the title of the book). Whereas Bob Phillips’ book with a very similar title (3:59.4: The Quest For The Four Minute Mile) concentrates on detailed analysis of the four-minute mile and the runners who got it there, John Bryant’s book delves into the many anecdotes and stories around the characters that led the race to four minutes: Nurmi, Bannister, Landy, Chattaway et al. It is a very readable, popular history of the most famous race.
on 26 June 2009
I found this book to be a thorughly good read, not too bogged down in stats. The author does a fine job of drawing you into the event, keeping the tale moving along nicely, i found myself always keen to read a little bit further before i put the book down. It does however, start off with a bit too much history & of runners who no doubt paved the way but weren't necessarily on a "quest to break the four minute mile". The title & cover implies that it's all about Roger Bannister & THAT time, but this takes a while to get to. Still an enjoyable book though.
on 3 October 2014
An excellent book. Brings to one the magnitude of Bannister's achievement, yet puts it in perspective, by introducing the reader to other great runners, whose achievements rank alongside Bannister's but never received the same acclaim.