Run to Overcome: The Inspiring Story of an American Champion's Long-Distance Quest to Achieve a Big Dream

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Overview

His story sounds like the living embodiment of the American dream … but Meb's path to victory hasn't been smooth. Not long after he stood on the Olympic platform as a U.S. silver medalist, it all came crashing down. And he was about to find out whether his faith in God, the values his parents had taught him, and his belief that he was born to run were enough to see him through.

Run to Overcome tells the inspirational story of a man who discovered the real meaning of victory, and...

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Overview

His story sounds like the living embodiment of the American dream … but Meb's path to victory hasn't been smooth. Not long after he stood on the Olympic platform as a U.S. silver medalist, it all came crashing down. And he was about to find out whether his faith in God, the values his parents had taught him, and his belief that he was born to run were enough to see him through.

Run to Overcome tells the inspirational story of a man who discovered the real meaning of victory, and shares the secrets to overcoming the odds in your own life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Olympic Silver Medalist and three-time cross-country national champion Meb Keflezighi has written an autobiography aimed at runners. However, the core beliefs he shares—reliance on family, the Christian faith, and the American dream—apply to everyone. Narrator Jon Gauger’s cadence matches the emotional content of Keflezighi’s story, which begins with his escape from war-torn Africa, where food was scarce and owning a skinny cow was a luxury. Gauger’s narration captures Keflezighi’s drive to succeed upon his arrival in America, penniless and unable to speak English. Likewise, Gauger portrays the runner’s joy when his athletic prowess earns him a full scholarship to UCLA. Chapters end with specific tips for runners and general tips applicable to everyone. Besides great training advice, Keflezighi shares the real meaning and cost of victory." 
G.D.W. © AudioFile Portland, Maine
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781414339573
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/25/2010
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Mebrahtom “Meb” Keflezighi and his family came to the United States after fleeing their native country of Eritrea to escape a violent war with Ethiopia. His unexpected athletic and academic successes earned him a full scholarship to UCLA, where he won four NCAA titles in one year and earned his BA in communication studies with a specialization in business. Meb is an Olympic silver medalist (Athens 2004) and a three-time national champion in cross country running (2001, 2002, and 2009). He came back from an injury to win the 2009 New York City Marathon, setting a personal best time of 2:09:15. Meb became a U.S. citizen in 1998. He lives in Mammoth Lakes, California, with his wife, Yordanos, and their three daughters, Sara, Fiyori, and Yohana. 

Dick Patrick has worked as a sports reporter and editor at newspapers for 34 years (including more than 24 at USA Today). He has covered Olympic Games, Final Fours, track and field world championships, world cross country championships, and more than 60 major marathons. He has won several Associated Press awards as well as awards from the National Distance Running Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. He recently was named the first winner of the George Hirsch Media Award, presented by the New York Road Runners for contributions to distance running. He lives in Vienna, Virginia, with his wife, Jody, and two children, Eamonn and Shea. This is his first book.

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Table of Contents

Forword John Benoit Samuelson xi

1 An American Dream 1

2 Out of Eritrea 7

3 Coming to America 29

4 UCLA Days: Student First, Athlete Second 55

5 Turning Pro and Living Small 83

6 Athens … Another Joyous Moment 113

7 Love Story 135

8 Life on the Run: The Elite Game 149

9 Trials and Tribulations: A Test of Faith 171

10 King of New York 193

11 The Bell Lap 217

Acknowledgments 225

Meb's Year-by-Year Personal Bests 228

Meb's Marathon History 229

Meb's National Titles 230

Discussion Questions 231

Notes 242

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First Chapter

RUN to OVERCOME

THE INSPIRING STORY OF AN AMERICAN CHAMPION'S LONG-DISTANCE QUEST TO ACHIEVE A BIG DREAM
By MEB KEFLEZIGHI Dick Patrick

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2010 Meb Keflezighi
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4143-3957-3


Chapter One

AN AMERICAN DREAM

I RUN A LOT AND PRAY A LOT, but I generally don't ask God for a win. I was breaking precedent at the 2009 New York City Marathon.

Knowing I've worked my hardest in training, I am usually content to see whoever's best on race day win. But on November 1, 2009, I wanted-I prayed-to be the first across the finish line in Manhattan's Central Park.

Waiting for the 26.2-mile race to start, I stood on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the front row of nearly 42,000 runners, braced against the chilly temperatures with my beanie, gloves, and arm warmers. I couldn't help but think of how far I had come-and how much I had overcome-since my childhood days in a war-torn African village.

I was born in Eritrea in East Africa and, after a brief stay in Italy, emigrated with my family to the United States at the age of 12 in 1987. Growing up without electricity or running water in a rural Eritrean village, I didn't see television until we moved to Italy when I was 10. I was so naive that I thought real people were inside the TV set. Now I was about to compete in front of 2 million spectators and a worldwide television audience of 330 million. It was just one of many examples of the incredible arc of my life from the third world to the modern world.

In Eritrea, even when I was lucky enough to attend school, I never owned a textbook. Now all my siblings of college age have graduated from or are attending U.S. universities. I went barefoot in Eritrea; now I have a contract with Nike and own enough running shoes to start a small store.

Sometimes I can't believe all that has happened to me. But in New York I really wanted a win and knew it wasn't going to be easy. Race director Mary Wittenberg and elite athlete coordinator David Monti had assembled a strong field, one that Mary was calling the best in race history for men. The lineup included four Olympic medalists and six men who had medaled at the world track & field championships.

Based on PRs (personal records) in the marathon, I was the 10th fastest runner in the field. That seemed like pretty good odds, having only nine faster guys in the race. I've faced a lot worse situations. At the 2004 Athens Olympics, I was 39th fastest on the starting list and wound up with the silver medal. Not many people, other than my longtime coach, Bob Larsen, and I, gave me much of a chance at a medal.

The situation was similar in New York. Some people thought I was too old, at 34, and too complacent, with an Olympic medal, to be a factor. Others assumed my career was in a free fall after a series of disappointments and injuries from late 2007 through 2008 or that I had become too distracted after my wife and I had started a family. The doubters figured I could no longer summon the focus required for world-class training and racing.

What the naysayers failed to consider is that I have been running to overcome all my life. They forgot how driven I am. When I commit to something, I'm all in, all 5 foot 51/2 inches and 123 pounds of me. I am often at my best when things look the worst. Maybe it's an inherited ability. My parents are role models in overcoming adversity. It's because of them that my 10 siblings and I are often called the classic American success story.

We came to the United States with virtually nothing but the clothes on our backs and the faith that we were in the Land of Opportunity, where education could be pursued and hard work would be rewarded. I had no idea that running was even a sport when we arrived in the States. My running journey began with a timed mile in my seventh grade phys ed class. I got all my competitive experience in the United States through middle school, high school, and college meets.

Victory at the 2009 New York City Marathon would be sweet for a number of reasons. To begin with, the race hadn't had an American winner since Alberto Salazar won the last of his three consecutive titles in 1982. Second, I had never had a victory in my previous 11 marathon starts, though I had been close at times, including twice in New York. Furthermore, many "experts" thought my career was over, and even I considered retirement in 2008 because of injury. I also wanted to do something special in honor of my friend and former training partner, Ryan Shay, who died of cardiac arrest in 2007 while we were competing in the Olympic trials marathon in Central Park. Perhaps most important, my parents, wife, and children were at the race. I envisioned accomplishing something special with them in attendance.

So I had plenty of motivation. And who could fail to get inspired by the ING New York City Marathon start venue? It has to be the best in the world. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, with its two towers and the upper deck of its two levels filled with runners, is a striking sight.

If you look carefully when the bus takes you to the start, you can see the Statue of Liberty in the harbor. Lady Liberty is a powerful symbol for all Americans, especially an immigrant like me who, while continuing to love my native country, is so grateful for the privilege of U.S. citizenship.

Given my pride in my adopted country, I thought it was appropriate to wear a USA singlet in a race desperate for an American winner. Race administrators and Nike wanted me to wear the singlet to create some buzz among fans. I considered it an honor and a performance enhancer: Spectators would be chanting "USA! USA! USA!" when they saw me, providing an adrenaline boost.

I felt a special relationship with the New York City Marathon. It's where I ran my first marathon in 2002, finishing ninth. I vowed never to run another marathon after that race; now I call the experience my PhD in the event. I placed second in 2004 and third in 2005. I was 20th in 2006, after suffering food poisoning. So I had a long history of ups and downs with the event.

Twenty-six miles, 385 yards is a long way-a lot can go wrong during that span-even when you're used to running up to 135 miles in a week. I had trouble sleeping the night before, awakening at 12:30 a.m. for the first of many times with even more than the usual pre-race jitters.

At the start line, I was in full race mode, clued in to my body and attuned to my opponents. I had one minor worry. I hadn't been able to do my full warm-up of eight to ten strides of 100 meters at race pace; I was only able to get in two. I hoped that wouldn't be a problem in the early going. But there was no more time for apprehension.

The cannon fired. One more quick prayer and we were off.

RUNNER'S TIP John Wooden used to begin each basketball season at UCLA by teaching his players how to put on socks. I'll start you with the reminder to tie your shoelaces securely. If you're going for a morning run, make sure you have everything ready the night before so you don't lose time trying to locate necessities. OVERCOMER'S TIP Once you've committed yourself to something, pace yourself to the finish line.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from RUN to OVERCOME by MEB KEFLEZIGHI Dick Patrick Copyright © 2010 by Meb Keflezighi. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 21 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 7, 2010

    Go Meb!

    In 2009, Meb Keflezighi won the New York City Marathon. Born in Etritrea, he was the first American to win this race in 27 years, and the pages of this book detail the [parallels of life in this worn-torn African country to running and winning a marathon.

    Written in first-person voice, Meb's words will remind you that the small obstacles and frustrations we approach on a daily basis are nothing in the bigger picture of life and the love of Christ. To escape the terror of home, Meb's family made repeat sacrifices and eventually made their way from Italy to America. He came to America unable to speak the language and would later have the opportunity to stand on the medal podium at the Olympics and represent the USA.

    You will find this book a simple and easy read. My only complaint while sharing in Meb's story was that some of the people and details included in the pages seemed a bit superfluous. However, this is only one small "aside" to an otherwise entertaining and motivational book. In addition to reading the story of his journey as a writer, you are also presented with tips from both runners and the general public mixed throughout the pages.

    As I finished the book, I found myself excited for the opportunity to watch Meb race in the New York City Marathon today! While it's 3pm in Turkey, the world in the United States is just waking up and the runners are getting ready for a fantastic day. I can't wait to see how Meb fairs in the field.</p>For more information on this encouraging piece of non-fiction, visit Run to Overcome. You can find out how to order the book and can also enter a contest to receive a free copy. Tyndale Publishers is giving away one signed book per day from November 1, 2010 to March 31, 2010. There will be monthly grand prize winners that will receive a signed copy of the book, other free Tyndale titles, as well as ony and PowerBar products.


    Good luck Meb!


    *In exchange for my honest and object opinion, Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 5, 2014

    A wonderful story about how Meb and his family came to be in Ame

    A wonderful story about how Meb and his family came to be in America and journey to become an elite marathoner.  He takes you through his early days in Eritrean, immigrating to Italy and then the United States.  From there he goes into how he became interested in running and through his progression from High School all the way through his 2009 NYC Marathon win.  The book is filled with inspirational stories which are sure to help motivate any runner or just anyone who might need a little encouragement.  I think this book should be required reading for every American.

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  • Posted June 17, 2011

    It was well worth reading. He inspires one to be the best we can be and it snows honesty and hard work do pay!

    Read it!

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  • Posted November 5, 2010

    Inspiring human story; great for teen athletes!

    This story goes beyond being one that has to be limited to an American context, especially in light of the discussions about globalisation and the gospel that permeated the recent Lausanne Congress in Cape Town. Many quotes that speak about Meb speak about his resilience of spirit, his impact on those around him and on the distance running community, and finally the emphasis he places about family. It is rather unsurprising then to see that these are also the themes of the this ghost written (with Dick Patrick) autobiography. But in some ways this is less about autobiography and more about the way running is a metaphor for life. At the end of each chapter a "runner's tip" and an "overcomer's tip" are offered. If you can get beyond the cheesiness of the formula then you might learn something!

    Born in the middle of war-torn Eritrea, Mebrahtom (meaning 'let there be light'), his parents and siblings, endured an arduous journey first to Italy and then to the US. Meb explains simply his faith and the place of prayer in his life as a response to God's majesty and faithfulness. This is a story about the value of education and not taking opportunities so prolific in the West for granted. There's alot of race specific details with times for Meb and his competitors going back to highschool meets. If you're a runner or a coach, this may well be fascinating, but for me, the book lagged a little at this point. The book is largely about relationships and those friends that helped him along the way; in that sense, its a testimony to his humility and respect for those who've helped him. I especially enjoyed the chapter sharing the story of how Meb met his wife Yordanos. Inspiring without being overly sentimental - it's the chapter where I feel like I hear his voice loudest and clearest.If you're interested in training tips, including how Meb recovers from training, his diet and how he manages being a father and a professional runner, advice on training logs, then you will find much to interest you. Meb also expresses strong opinions on the necessity for out of competition drug testing and the realities of EPO use amongst distance runners. The Run to Overcome mantra pervades the book, giving it cohesion.

    we see Meb face some of his toughest trials and alongside his family, deal with uncertainty and the realities of business and the fragility of life. It is for this part that the book is worth the effort. It's where you see his true colours and his attribution of God's faithfulness. The final two chapters are about his historic win in the New York marathon and the media storm, both positive and negative that followed. It builds up to that climax effectively, but it takes a really long time to get there.

    This is a compelling book, but it struggles in patches to move beyond a training journal. When Meb's passion for life is able to show we simply glimpses of the potential this story has. As an athlete, I enjoyed this book. As a literary critic, there's much I would have liked to have seen improved.

    For those interested in athletics, or trying to get teen athletes interested in a book, this one is accompanied by discussion questions. I'm sure Athletes in Action (the Christians in athletics organisation Meb was part of at UCLA) groups will find this particularly useful.

    Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book gratis to review by Tyndale, but as you can tell from the review it represents my honest opinion.

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  • Posted November 3, 2010

    Run to Overcome

    I feel it necessary to start by acknowledging I am extremely skeptical of the American Dream. Sometimes I fear we won't recognize the confirmation bias when we read about someone who worked hard, trusted God, and became wildly successful that we are reading that story only because of the wildly successful. There are many whom God loves just as much, whom love God just as much, and whom worked just as hard, but who end up looking very defeated.

    That being said, the story of Meb and his family traveling from Eritrea to the US is an interesting read. Certainly hard work was necessary (though not sufficient) to bring Meb to where he is now. And truthfully he honors so much of the network that provided opportunities far outside his control.

    Any marathoner who reads can't pass up this story that is sure to capture you by chapter 2. The kind of person that can persevere through a marathon will find companionship with a man whose childhood to which few Americans can relate but whose life all can celebrate.

    For me, this story makes me wrestle with pleasure in American stability and concern as a global citizen. It shows that, if we let it, the American Dream virtues are alive all across the world. For that I consider it a worthwhile read, because if we are careful, it will challenge us to view the world in a new way, through the eyes of an immigrant to America, who loves two countries as home.

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  • Posted November 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I am often at my best when things look the worst. - Meb Keflezighi

    Meb Keflezighi is all about hope and second chances - starting with his very survival. The child of a small African country ravaged by a brutal war, Meb arrived in America with nothing but the clothes on his back, speaking no English and never having raced a mile. So how did he end up an A student, one of the most celebrated and respected athletes of his generation, and winner of the 2009 New York City Marathon?

    His story sounds like the living embodiment of the American dream...but Meb's path to victory hasn't been smooth. Not long after he stood on the Olympic platform as a U.S. silver medalist, it all came crashing down. And he was about to find out whether his faith in God, the values his parents had taught him, and his belief that he was born to run were enough to see him through.

    Run to Overcome by Meb Keflezighi and Dick Patrick, tells the inspirational story of a man who discovered the real meaning of victory, and shares the secrets to overcoming the odds in your own life.

    My Review: This is such a moving tribute to show just how far we can overcome any adversity we may be faced with, as long as we have faith in God, and the belief of our parents and family. Nothing is impossible. Meb Keflezighi's journey from his life in a humble and poverish beginning in Africa shows us through his novel how his parents instilled within their family that hard work and dedication will enable you to rise up and become better people because of it. We learn how important education and a willingness to do our best at all costs will cause others around you to sit up and take notice.

    I loved at the end of each chapter that there are Runner's Tips as well as Overcomer's Tips to help you along your own personal journey of discovery. One such tip for runners is keeping a journal of your workouts, times and even how you felt during practice. These can provide your own motivational boasts just before a big race in your own words.

    I received this book compliments of Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review and loved every chapter. Not only that, I am passing it along to my high school daughter's track team to participate in a group read of the book. This one really does rate an all star 5 out of 5 stars.

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  • Posted November 2, 2010

    Great Story

    Run to Overcome tells the story of a young boy born into the war ravaged country of Eritrea and follows his journey to becoming an Olympic silver medalist and 2009 winner of the New York marathon. Meb Keflezighi shares his journey, his heart and his wisdom with the reader page after page; each chapter end with "Runner's Tips", which share tips for improvement and training, and "Overcomer's Tips", which provide encouragement and support for life. Meb shares how he sought God's will in his life and career in good times and bad, which were both plenty. This story is encouraging and uplifting and tells the story of a family whose faith in God and His plan for their life surpasses all.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 2, 2010

    Inspiring

    About the book:
    If this book doesn't inspire you to overcome and succeed I don't know what will! Meb grew up in Eritrea, which I have never heard of until reading his book.

    This book takes you from Meb's younger years when he lived in Eritrea, it is heartbreaking to read of the starvation and fear that people went through as Eritrea fought with Ethiopia. Meb's father was able to leave the country and after several years sent for the family and they finally found a new home in America.

    The family went through many struggles, learning the language, going to school, but yet they overcame, over and over again. Meb has a strength that is not only physical but mental as well and reading his story is extremely encouraging. Imagine coming from a place where people just don't run, to a place where people run for fun, Meb was simply amazed that American's just run, and fell in love with the sport! Not only did he fall in love, but he overcame many obstacles and became a winner, in more ways than one.

    This is an amazing story, everyone can achieve their dreams and I encourage you to read Meb's story and cheer him on as he continues his career in running!

    **Thanks to Tyndale Publishing I received a complimentary copy of Run to Overcome to review, I was not compensated in any other way for my honest opinion.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 2, 2010

    Highly Recommended!

    I had the priviledge to review Run to Overcome by Meb Keflezighi (with Dick Patrick) and to my surprise - IT WAS AWESOME! I don't mean that to sound the way it probably does.you see, I chose this book to review because my husband LOVES running (he used to run in school) so I thought I would "suffer thru" the book and then he could enjoy it. Well, to my great surprise - I loved the book! It is written in a very easy to understand manner (even if you don't know "running lingo") but it does provide a lot of details, so if you are familiar with "running lingo", I'm sure you will greatly appreciate that!

    Each chapter endes with a "Runner's Tip" and a "Overcomer's Tip".kind of neat touch for encouragement.

    Overall this is a family friendly book, but the beginning does cover his life in Eritrea which does have a few things that would not be appropriate for younger readers.


    Check out the Run to Overcome website for more information. *BONUS* they will be giving away one signed book per day from Nov. 1, 2010 - Mar. 31, 2011. There will be monthly grand prize winners that will receive a signed copy of the book, other free Tyndale titles, as well as Sony and PowerBar products. Details should be on the website soon.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 2, 2010

    Highly Recommended!

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book because I am a recreational marathoner and know the pains that come with these long runs and the training that goes into it. The author, Meb did well to avoid too much technical jargon about the runs and the preparation involved, though it could have been minimized further (for non-running folks). However I like this book because of the central theme of "family". From out of Eritrea, to Italy, then America. The family Meb was brought up in and indeed, it's not just his success that we see, can only attain the American dream with real determination and grit, lots of hard work and truly God's grace. Their faith in God took them to where they are. Meb humbly reveals his rise to success in long-distance running and how he got "there". Beyond a God-given ability to run as an elite runner (not for most people), his book and his success drives us to succeed in whatever we have as God given abilities.

    His book quotes "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. (1 Corinthians 9:24)" and I think he wants to convey the idea that whatever we do we must do to the best of our abilities.

    If I may add to what Meb says, the Bible goes on with "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)". This tells us Jesus is who we should look toward when we run this race. Meb's story reveals that right kind of faith in God and that really makes a difference in his race. We should also endeavor to do likewise!
    Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book through Tyndale Publishers as part of my review efforts.

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  • Posted November 1, 2010

    Highly Recommend

    A beautiful, heartwarming and inspiring story written by a man who had a goal and no matter what he faced he was able to reach that goal. Meb Keflezighi was born in Eritrea in East Africa and immigrated to the United States in 1987. He grew up in a country that was at war, had no electricity or running water. His faith in God and family brought him to the United States at the age of 12 where his dedication and extreme hard work ethic came into play. In 2009 Meb finished in first place in the ING New York City Marathon.

    After reading his story, you will really take a hard look at your life. Your own hardships, your triumphs and your faith will all have a special meaning to you. At the end of each chapter Meb, gives you Runners Tips and Overcomer's Tips such as "Learn everything you can in the classroom. Then go out into the world and learn even more."

    Truly this book is a terrific read and I highly can recommend it to everyone. Even if you don't run marathons, your life is a marathon and your determination will pay off.

    (Tyndale House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book for me to review. This in no way influenced my review.)

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