Today We Die a Little

Today We Die a Little : The Rise and Fall of Emil Zatopek, Olympic Legend

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LONGLISTED FOR THE WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD The definitive biography of one of the greatest, most extraordinary runners and Olympic heroes of all time, from the author of running classic Feet in the Clouds. On the track, his running made him a legend; off it, his charisma and humanity made him a hero. No runner has generated myth like Emil Zatopek, the Czechoslovakian soldier who revolutionised distance running after World War II. The minutiae of his victories and training methods, the poignant details of his generosity and downfall - all have been endlessly repeated and reinvented, but the full truth never told. Zatopek won five Olympic medals, set 18 world records, and went undefeated over 10,000 metres for six years. He redefined the boundaries of endurance, training in Army boots, in snow, in sand, in darkness. But his toughness was matched by a spirit of friendship and a joie de vivre that transcended the darkest days of the Cold War. His triumphs put his country on the map, yet when Soviet tanks moved in to crush Czechoslovakia's new freedoms in 1968, Zatopek paid a heavy price for his brave stance as a champion of `socialism with a human face'. Expelled from the Army, he was condemned to years of degrading manual labour, far from his home and his adored wife. Rehabilitated two decades later, he was a shadow of the man he had been - and the world had all but forgotten him. Based on extensive research in the Czech Republic and with unparalleled access to Zatopek's family and friends, particularly his widow, fellow Olympian Dana Zatopkova, Today We Die A Little evokes not just an extraordinary man but a glorious age of athletics and a dramatic period in European history. It strips away the myths to tell the complex and deeply moving story of the most inspiring Olympic hero of them more

Product details

  • Hardback | 480 pages
  • 144 x 224 x 32mm | 709g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0224100343
  • 9780224100342
  • 103,094

About Richard Askwith

Richard Askwith has been a journalist for more than 35 years. For the past 15 years he has been Associate Editor of the Independent. A keen runner and a lifelong admirer of Emil Zatopek, he has written two previous books about running. His first, Feet in the Clouds, won Best New Writer at the British Sports Book Awards and the Bill Rollinson Prize for Landscape and Tradition. It was shortlisted for the William Hill and Boardman-Tasker prizes and was named by Runner's World as one of the three best running books of all time. His 2014 book, Running Free, was short-listed for the Thwaites-Wainwright more

Review quote

"A tale from athletics' age of innocence... He was a sporting hero not just for his time but for all time" * Spectator * "A wonderfully in-depth and often emotionally charged piece of writing" * Athletics Weekly * "An astonishing achievement... There are few writers as adept at capturing so lyrically the utter and incomprehensible strangeness of distance running... A joy to read" * Literary Review * "Sport book of the year... A fascinating tale, showing all sides of Zatopek, injecting humanity and humour into a dramatic life" -- Matt Butler * i, Book of the Year * "Reminds us of the pain and the glory behind every victory and the power of sport to bring people together and make history" -- Martina Navratilova "A warm, honest and moving account of one of the greatest sportsmen of all time. Richard Askwith brings to life both the epic triumphs but also the difficulties and complexities of Zatopek's role in Communist Czechoslovakia" -- Adharanand Finn, author of Running with the Kenyans "A portrait of a fine but flawed human." -- Nick Pitt * Sunday Times, Book of the Year * "A tremendous read and also a reminder of the lost purity of track and field" -- Eileen Battersby * The Irish Times * "Terrific" -- Huw Richards * Guardian * "Before Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe, there was Emil Zatopek - a Czechoslovakian soldier turned long-distance runner turned Cold War victim. His four Olympic golds, 18 world records and Communist party career are all laid bare in this definitive account" * Shortlist *show more

Review Text

"A tremendous read and also a reminder of the lost purity of track and field"show more

Rating details

268 ratings
4.25 out of 5 stars
5 44% (119)
4 40% (107)
3 13% (35)
2 1% (4)
1 1% (3)
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