Customer Reviews for

The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2004

    The perfect book for the perfect 4-minute mile race

    Author Neal Bascomb has written the perfect book about the first sub-4 minutes mile race in 1954 and the dramatic follow up between the two fastest milers head to head the same year. He has not only gathered up the facts, by interviewing the three principal runners in person in their homes in the United States, England, and Australia, but woven them together in a gripping narrative. The result is not only good history of races that put you in the stands watching, but lively details. With his descriptions of the environment, you feel the pre-race excitement and hear the cheers. And he doesn¿t resort to conjuring up conversations only based on fact; he uses the actual words of the people he interviewed or takes quotes from newspaper accounts, documenting it inconspicuously at the end of the book. As I runner, I got an added thrill out of the book. I read the race sections (and there are many) slowly, feeling each lap of the mile, imagining how the runners felt (though Bascomb also tells us in their own words). I read it on a trip to New York, in the airport waiting rooms, on board, and later on the subways. It¿s one of the first books I¿ve read in a while outside the field I teach in; and I read every word. The week after I finished the book, as I was jogging around a curve on an old cinder track, the kind Bannister, Landy and Santee used to run on in 1954, I was Bannister, striding toward the finish line, ignoring tiredness, gliding, speeding on - to a very slow, but enjoyable mile time.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The Perfect Running Book

    The Perfect Mile is a gloriously well crafted story entailing the attempts of three runners to break the four minute mile barrier in the early 1950's. It details the many runs made at said barrier by Roger Bannister, Wes Santee and John Landy. Also, it discusses the race of the century that would decide who was the best miler in the world at the time.
    Neal Bascomb does an excellent job of describing how the races occurred, and not just how the runners themselves felt but the public in general. He keeps the reader entertained the entire book through by perfectly describing how the race felt to the runners and how it affected their psyche with each failed attempt. However, somehow Bascomb was able to explain the races in such detail yet still let the reader use their imagination to think of how the runners felt for themselves. His ability to not molest the readers view of what happened shows Bascomb's supreme skill at writing stories of sport. Bascomb also delves into the history of not just the four minute mile barrier but the history of running the mile itself. He then illustrates the races that occurred after the barrier was finally broken in which milers had great races.
    There were not many down sides of this book except for the fact that Bascomb does not deal with each runner equally. Wes Santee, the lone American, seems to be forgotten at points in the book, especially towards the end of the book when Landy and Bannister race at the Empire Games in Vancouver. Santee was supposed to be in this race but was not allowed to race because the Amateur Athletic Union would not let him. There is a reason for some absence from the book however it does not talk about how terrible it must have felt in enough detail.
    Another book that one might consider reading if they enjoyed The Perfect Mile would be Pre which entails the life and death of Steve Prefontaine. It is also superb in its explanation of races and feelings that Pre and the rest of the public went through during his life.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2005

    This book is just amazing....

    I myself am a mile runner in my high-school, and i think this book is just so great. I really enjoyed the great detail that was put in to the book. At time it felt like I was Roger Bannister, Wes Santee, or John Landy at times finding myself pumped up and just caught up with the races, training sessions, and all within the story. I would tell anyone who is really interseted in these types of books, or even history to read this book. It is jsut simple mind-boggling, it's purely amazing that somehting that was so great and hard to break, would end up driving three men into another form of greatness. From a person who hates to read books, I would find myself just staying up well into the night reading this book, before I raced I would really a little peices of the book. To anyone who is a mile runner weither it's in highschool, college, or pro, I really think you should read this book!!!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2004

    Most definitely the best book I have ever read

    As a highschool runner, I am by no means the best out there. With a mile pr of 5:04 it is beginning to seem impossible to break 5 minutes. And here are these three men, 50 years ago, who were running more than a minute faster than me. This detailed summary of the different journeys of these men (even recording their mile splits and exactly what occured during the races) is not only a great book about the sport of running but also an amazing inspirational novel. If these men can keep themselves together and gather up enough courage to run 1,760 yards in 3:59.6 then I can most definitely run it in 4:59.6. Or at least I have to keep telling myself that. But overall it is a wonderful novel and I would recommend it to anybody who is looking for a good book to read. I could not put this down in the time that I was reading, and finished it faster and with more ease than it takes for me to run that 5:04 (ok maybe a little exaggeration there but you get my point). Just go out and read the book. I guarantee that you'll enjoy it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 7, 2013

    A one word review of this book would be "wow." As a w

    A one word review of this book would be "wow." As a walker, I'd never considered the fact that running very fast had been considered dangerous enough to kill a runner. I loved the way the book was structured and found myself cheering for all three of the main runners. I would have been happy regardless who came out on top and was sorry I read the captions under the pictures because I didn't mean to find out the ending before I finished the book. A great read even for couch potatoes.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 28, 2011

    Outstanding Story of Glowing Hope

    Neal Bascomb's national bestseller "The Perfect Mile" is a captivating story representing the world's first ever four minute mile. Bascomb, who only started writing books full-time in 2000, delivers the imagery and suspense needed to create the feeling that you are actually in the stands watching history unfold. With three athletes from different backgrounds and countries all going for the same "impossible" barrier, the intensity that is created between each athlete builds up throughout the story. Even knowing who the legendary icon will be, there were times in this story when I actually believed that someone else may get to it first. "Bascomb excels at unearthing the real suspense of this era"- Christian Science Monitor. This book was one the best books I have read, and it is truly thrilling to read of the numerous attempts and failures that went through to achieve it. This book creates motivation for my own races, and as a runner, this book is extremelly relateable. "The Perfect Mile" is a must-read book for any interested sports historian. "There's nothing you can't do."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2014

    Great read

    This book makes me want to go for a run...only much slower.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2014

    Great story

    Excellent writing.

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  • Posted August 17, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Rating: 4 of 5 stars (very good) Review Sports records can gene

    Rating:
    4 of 5 stars (very good)

    Review
    Sports records can generate a lot of buzz – whether it is a seemingly unattainable mark, a star athlete is threatening a record, or if it is set at a famous venue, these events not only leave their mark in history, but may also have a very interesting story. Such is the case for May 6, 1954 when Englishman Roger Bannister became the first man to run one mile in less than four minutes. The barrier was seemingly never going to be broken until Bannister did so with the help of other runners who helped set his pace.

    This book covers that race and Bannister’s background and training leading up to that race in a very detailed and well researched manner. However, Bannister was only one of three elite mile runners of that time who were attempting to break the record. American Wes Santee and Australian John Landy were also training hard and racing in events attempting to shatter that barrier. It happened that Bannister did it first. Landy then broke Bannister’s record by more than a full second (a large margin in the track and field world) and the stage was set for the two of them to meet head on in the Empire Games held later in 1954 in Vancouver.

    Santee, however, could not compete in this race because of his commitment to the US Marines. His story was the most heartbreaking of the three, especially in Bascomb’s account of how Santee felt he could beat both of them by running a certain style of race. This was illustrated by Santee thinking of this strategy while watching the race in the studio and providing commentary. Santee’s rise to elite miler status and his subsequent events did make me think of a promising career derailed by circumstances that were mostly out of his control.

    Landy’s story is also interesting, especially those with his coach involved and his single-minded determination to break this record. Bannister’s story is the most well known of the three, especially that of the training leading up to the race as it was limited due to his medical studies. He did complete them as well, becoming a doctor soon after the “Perfect Mile” race.

    This book reads much like a mile run – slower at first, getting the reader accustomed to the three athletes and setting the pace. Then when Bannister takes his starting position in what would be the run that makes history, the book is a blur, just like the last lap for each of these runners – a fast paced story that the reader will have a hard time putting down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    This is a well-written and thoroughly researched book for any [serious] runner. Very impressive!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2013

    Good

    ?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 7, 2010

    The Perfect Mile

    There was a time in the mid-1900's when it was believed that running a mile in under 4 minutes was beyond the human bodies capability. It was known in track and field at the time as the goal that no one could quite touch. Many had come close but none had every broken the barrier. In 1952, 3 athletes set out to break the elusive barrier. Wes Santee, A Kansan who spent his life working on the farm. Rodger Bannister, a English medical student who could only do his workouts in between his work at the hospital. John Landy, a well privileged Australian who spent all of his time working on shaping his body to be in the best shape it could possibly be in. The Perfect Mile walks you through the journey of these three athletes and show the dramatic steps they must take to make their attempt at the perfect mile. On May 6th 1954 Roger Bannister was the first ever athlete to break the 4 minute barrier with a time of 3:59.4. The post race announcement was read: "Ladies and gentlemen, here is the result of event 9, the one mile: 1st, No. 41, R.G. Bannister, Amateur Athletic Association and formerly of Exeter and Merton Colleges, Oxford, with a time which is a new meeting and track record, and which - subject to ratification - will be a new English Native, British National, All-Comers, European, British Empire and World Record. The time was 3..." The final numbers were drowned out by the roar of the crowd. Just weeks later John Landy also broke 4 minutes. You might think the book ends here however the book is called the perfect mile for a reason. It is called this because of the race after Bannister, and Landy broke the barrier. A race that pits the two runners against each other in a race that was known as the "Miracle Mile". The final chapters of this book walks you nearly minute by minute through everything leading up to the race itself. I would recommend this book to not only runners but anyone who enjoys sports books, because this is probably the best sports book I have ever read in my life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2009

    The Perfect Mile

    One of the best sports books I have read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2004

    Outstanding

    Not only has Bascomb captured the essence of a sporting event that once seemed unthinkable, he enlightens by capturing another era.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2009

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    Posted August 23, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2009

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    Posted April 3, 2014

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