From Publishers Weekly
Written in 1977, this biography was evidently resurrected because of a recent TV special and two planned motion pictures about the Oregon long-distance runner, whose life was cut short in 1975 when he crashed his sports car at age 24. The book gives details of Prefontaine's efforts on the track?where he set many national records, some even while in college?and demonstrates his dedication to running, but it tells readers little about his personal life, perhaps because, as Jordan points out in the introduction, "His pace was so frenetic... that his deep friendships outside of family and love relationships were few." The two major problems Pre encountered as an athlete were his inability to do as well in Europe as at home and his annoyance with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and its demand that amateur athletes accept no formal support, although, the author notes, many meets gave under-the-table payments to top box-office draws. Jordan, who is on the staff of Track & Field News, captures his subject's charisma, but his book seems incomplete. There are six sidebars about Prefontaine by noted runners including Alberto Salazar, Mary Slaney and Frank Shorter. Photos. (Apr.) FYI: The film Prefontaine is playing at theaters now. Disney will release a film on the runner later this year.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
University of Oregon track star Prefontaine finished fourth in the [5000 meter] race at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Beyond that, he set numerous American records. But it was his personality, not his records, that set him apart. Where his opponents were dry and colorless, Pre was brash and cocky. His tragic death in a 1975 one-car accident established him as the James Dean of distance running, and the release of two 1997 motion pictures about him secures this status. Jordan's updated edition of a 1977 biography is acceptable as sports bios go, but there are too many stride-by-stride race accounts. Still, Jordan does create a vivid sense of Prefontaine's driven personality. Peppered throughout are revealing comments from rivals, teammates, and coaches, including legendary Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman. On balance, this is an intelligent glimpse of an athlete who is destined to be more well known today than he was in his lifetime. Expect demand. Wes Lukowsky
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