AS HEARD ON THE CHRIS EVANS BREAKFAST SHOW - "It's not just for runners. It's for life! It's a great story."
When Chris McDougall stumbled across the story of Churchill's 'dirty tricksters', a motley crew of English poets and academics who helped resist the Nazi invasion of Crete, he knew he was on the track of something special.
To beat the odds, the tricksters-starving, aging, outnumbered-tapped into an ancient style of fitness: the lost art of heroism. They listened to their instincts, replaced calories with stored bodily fat and used their fascia, the network of tissue which criss-crosses the body, to catapult themselves to superhuman strength and endurance.
Soon McDougall was in the middle of a modern fitness revolution taking place everywhere from Parisian parkour routes to state-of-the-art laboratories, and based on the know-how of Shanghai street-fighters and Wild West gunslingers. Just as Born to Run got runners off the treadmill and into nature, Natural Born Heroes will inspire casual athletes to dump the gym membership for cross-training, mud runs and free-running.
Journalist McDougall (Born to Run) travels to the Greek island of Crete to serve up a mixture of mythic heroics and still-applicable fitness techniques. There, with amateur historian Chris White's help, he explores how, in 1944, Greek partisans and British commandos abducted Nazi Gen. Heinrich Kreipe. Further delving into the Greek resistance, McDougall offers astonishing stories about shepherds turned partisans, George "the Clown" Psychoundakis, known to run over 50 miles nightly with a 60-pound pack on his back and on a diet of nothing but boiled hay, and Costi Paterakis, who ran cross-country to shoot, from a quarter mile away, a German commander about to order a massacre. He also documents contemporary heroes like the Pennsylvania elementary school principal who singlehandedly saved her school from a machete-wielding stranger. Throughout, McDougall pauses to consider what exactly makes a hero a hero, examining history, anatomy, physiology, and fitness. This book reads as a page-turning historical account, with fitness techniques and instruction embedded throughout. Readers, regardless of their fitness levels, should come to the end feeling both inspired and a little bit winded.