"Let the young men now arise and compete before us." -- 2 Samuel 2:14 (NKJV)
Top Dog is that rare book that combines psychology with physiology while also attempting to provide some practical insights that readers can apply. I believe that those who are looking for physiological information will probably like this book the best. The psychological insights are next best. The practical lessons come next in value.
Those who think that competition has been downplayed too much as a mechanism for social improvement will find powerful arguments here for ways that vying with others can lead to accomplishing much more.
For me the big takeaway message was that individuals perform best in quite different ways: Some need to be part of a team; others need maximum stress, many need very little stress, and still others need to identify with a purpose. While I was quite aware of what my own best combination is, I hadn't given much thought to how that might differ for others. While I'm helping students prepare for competition in the future, I intend to pay much more attention to first understanding what is optimal for each one. That was well worth the time I spent reading the book.
While it was good to know a lot more about the various hormones and their effects on competitors, the book had a lot more of that information than I can use or interested me. If you are a student of physiology, you may well have the opposite reaction that much more should have been included.
If you want to get a quick sense of the book's practical tips, they are efficiently summarized from the bottom of page 238 through 240. If you decide to read the book, you may find those three pages to be a good place to go when you decide to refresh your appreciation of the book.
I agreed with the argument that competition has more benefits than drawbacks. As a mechanism for helping most people to improve, it's hard to beat ... just because most people like to win so much. The book's advice will help those who find competition overly stressful to adopt a more effective approach.
I thought the writing was quite good and easy to follow, being much better than in many popular science books.