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Kings of the Road: How Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, and Alberto Salazar Made Running Go Boom Hardcover – April 9, 2013

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Kings of the Road: How Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, and Alberto Salazar Made Running Go Boom + Marathon Man: My 26.2-Mile Journey from Unknown Grad Student to the Top of the Running World + John McDonnell: The Most Successful Coach in NCAA History
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 054777396X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547773964
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #409,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The lengthy subtitle states this book’s thesis, though the words “in America” might have been added. The volume captures a bright decade in American road racing, from Shorter’s marathon victory at the 1972 Olympics to Rodgers’ dominance mid-decade, to Salazar’s later ascendancy. It possesses a period charm. The author concentrates not on the major international marathons but on the shorter but highly popular Falmouth Road Race on Cape Cod. It fails, though, to make the larger case, the “how” of the subtitle. Lost in the thunder of running American feet is the looming domination of the sport by the Africans, and Stracher understates the influence of women runners such as Joan Benoit Samuelson and the role of the athletic-shoe companies in fostering running as a mass phenomenon. He argues unconvincingly that race organizer Fred Lebow’s insistence upon inclusivity in the New York Marathon ultimately hurt the sport. What remains is an account that will largely interest runners and dedicated fans of the sport. Publication will coincide with this year’s Boston Marathon, an event that no American man has won in 30 years. --Mark Levine


"In his lively, informative history, Cameron Stracher traces the boom of running culture in America back to the 1970s when a trio of single-minded athletes -- Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, and Alberto Salazar -- captured the national spotlight with their intense passion for pounding the road...Stracher writes with a true fan’s contagious enthusiasm." -- Newsweek/The Daily Beast
“A focused survey of three unmatched American long-distance runners… Essential reading for runners both competitive and casual.” – Kirkus Reviews
Kings of the Road is about marathon legends. It's about running Fast. It's about Will. It's about the Real. It's about drama of the finest kind.” – Bernd Heinrich, author of Why We Run and Racing the Antelope
“In Kings of the Road, Cameron Stracher recaptures the wonder, energy, and excitement of American road racing from 1972 to 1982. With amazing detail and action, he follows Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, and Alberto Salazar to their greatest victories in an era when they became national sports icons.” --Amby Burfoot, 1968 Boston Marathon winner and Runner's World Editor-at-Large

“Combining a novelist's eye for character and detail with an historian's insight into patterns and connections, Cameron Stracher's Kings of the Road delivers a rollicking, informed account of the rise of the American running movement. Bringing the 1970's alive in all their brokenness, weirdness, and hope, Stracher shows how distance running helped define a generation. Kings of the Road rekindles Baby Boomer memories while introducing younger readers to an overlooked piece of sporting and social history.” – John Brant, author of Duel in the Sun and co-author (with Alberto Salazar) of 14 Minutes

More About the Author

Cameron Stracher was born and raised in Roslyn, Long Island. At a young age, he wanted to be a writer, and had his first play produced while an undergraduate at Amherst College. After college, he retreated to Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where he tried to write the Great American Novel. Failing miserably, he enrolled at Harvard Law School, where he still managed to take a writing workshop from Mary Robison at Harvard College. He returned to Woods Hole after earning his J.D. degree, and was the only waiter at the Coonamessett Inn who was also admitted to the New York State bar. Finally, succumbing to parental and financial pressure, he got a real job at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., where he lasted for one year before fleeing for the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa.

He spent four years in Iowa City, studying under Frank Conroy, James Salter, Marilynne Robinson, Meg Wolitzer, and Deborah Eisenberg. More important, he met his wife, Christine Pakkala, a poet, while she was serving cheese samples at the food co-op. After Christine graduated, the couple moved to New York City where Cameron practiced law at Friedman & Kaplan, and then became in-house counsel at CBS, handling libel, privacy, copyright and other claims for the network. One of the highlights of his career during those years was getting Dan Rather out of jury duty.

Cameron won a fiction fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts in 1994, and his first novel, The Laws of Return, was published by William Morrow in 1996. His non-fiction account of his life as a law firm associate, Double Billing: A Young Lawyer's Tale of Greed, Sex, Lies, and a Swivel Chair, was also published by Morrow in 1998. He left CBS in 1999 and joined the media law firm Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, where he became partner and helped open the New York office. In 2001, he began teaching at New York Law School, and eventually became the Publisher of the Law Review and the Co-Director of the school's new Program in Law & Journalism. His second book of non-fiction, Dinner with Dad: How I Found My Way Back to the Family Table, was published by Random House in 2007. It has recently been optioned for television by 3Arts Entertainment. In 2010 Cameron left New York Law School to spend more time writing and with his family. In 2011, Sourcebooks published his first YA novel, the dystopian thriller The Water Wars.

At present, he is Of Counsel to Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, and has his own media law practice where he counsels clients like Hybrid Films, producer of the hit TV series Dog the Bounty Hunter, and provides litigation and transactional advice to other independent film, TV, and entertainment companies. He also handles all pre-publication review for Star and OK! magazines and all litigation for American Media publications, including the National Enquirer.

In addition to his books, Cameron has written for The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. He is an avid runner and his non-fiction book about the running boom, The Kings of the Road, will be published by Houghton Mifflin in April 2013. He lives in Westport, Connecticut, with his wife, two children, and two dogs.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Very accessible and easy to read.
Paul J Fry
I enjoy the sport of running and like to read up on books about the history and evolution of running.
Mr. Stracher tracks the boom through the prism of the legendary Falmouth Road Race.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
begins Cameron Stracher's latest, Kings of the Road, an interesting book that provides a good mix of: running and related US history during the decade covered (`72-`82), recounting of races, and background information on both the beginnings of specific events (Falmouth Road Race, New York Marathon) and the highlighted runners as well as neat quotes and photographs. Running became popular in the US, the author writes, due to the performances and personalities of: Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers and Alberto Salazar. Primarily chronologically (though he tells some parts in flashback), Mr. Stracher takes readers through the history of the running boom in America and tries to put the-way-things-were in perspective for runners and running fans of today. For example, prior to the current day conveniences of timing chips embedded into race bibs, tracking possibly thousands of participants' times meant (p 4), "matching runners' numbers on their racing bibs with an electronic printout of their times as they crossed the finish line." Shoes were pretty primitive compared to what now available and sometimes even elite athletes wore shoes that were too big or too small or that fell apart during the race. And while other sports, like football and baseball, earned athletes big bucks, runners often had to hold down jobs while training because they earned so little for their victories. After Rodgers won the Falmouth Road Race in 1974, (p 63) "he won a toaster, two tickets for the ferry to Martha's Vineyard, and a dinner for two at the Medieval Manor in Boston."

Although the overall tone of Kings of the Road is positive, the author's disdain for the decline in the performance of long distance runners over time is obvious. He laments the fact that while (p 213) "Today, more people run than every before...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Malvin VINE VOICE on March 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Kings of the Road" by Cameron Stracher is a superb narrative history about the 1970s running boom in America. Centering the story around the life and times of the running greats Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers and Alberto Salazar, Mr. Stracher shows us how competitive running helped inspire and reenergize a weary American public. This expertly written, page-turning book is a must-read for everyone interested in running and/or 20th century American sports history.

Mr. Stracher explains how Shorter, Rodgers and Salazar overcame their individual adversities and channelled their passions into running. Interestingly, we learn how these elite American runners valued the local Falmouth Road Race as the prestige race to win. Indeed, Mr. Stracher contends that the intensity and drama played out each year at Falmouth nurtured the grass-roots running craze and spurred mass participation more than any other single running event at that time.

We learn about the struggles off the road physically, financially and culturally. As a competitive miler, Mr. Stracher brings considerable insights into the challenge of staying fit as he discusses how each runner faced up to their inevitable declines. Mr. Stracher relates how these trailblazing runners made life better for those who would follow by successfully challenging and breaking a system that profited at the athlete's expense. We also meet some of the colorful, entrepreneurial race organizers who sought to maintain the integrity of the sport as mass participation and commercial sponsorships brought new challenges and opportunities.

With its vivid reconstruction of an exciting era in American sports history, I highly recommend this terrific book to everyone.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By nekko1 VINE VOICE on April 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
With a title like "Kings of the Road, How Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, and Alberto Salazar Made Running Go Boom", author Cameron Stracher has tackled a sweeping period of time when American road running flourished. As a high school and college runner during the late 70s and early 80s, I idolized Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers so was eager to hear the recounting of the decade-long running boom ignited by Frank Shorter's 1972 Olympic marathon victory.

The book centers itself by describing how the Falmouth (MA) Road Race started as a labor of love by a running bartender named Tommy Leonard. Inspired by Shorter's victory, Leonard wanted to create a road race that not only could attract world-class running talent but also to motivate casual athletes to run races. The Falmouth race succeeded beyond most expectations and eventually played host to all three of the great runners of the book's title: Shorter, Rodgers and Salazar. The best writing in the book describes how the race plays out from year to year when these runners faced each other head-to-head. It's clear the author has lovingly collected first-hand accounts from those runners to craft these race descriptions.

While I enjoyed the book because of my running background, the book needs a good editing. The author veers off into lengthy diversions (the metabolic effects of aging, the evolution of running shoes, the economics of race sponsorships) that defocused the narrative for me. I know the author probably added these diversions to provide context for the decade-long running boom but they came unexpectedly and lacked smooth segues. In addition, the author seems to drop obscure words into the text when simpler words would have sufficed.
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