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Strides: Running Through History With an Unlikely Athlete Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 18, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-1594862281 ISBN-10: 1594862281 Edition: 1st

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, September 18, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cheever (The Plagiarist) makes an erratic dash through his lifetime of marathon running while offering facts about the sport throughout history. Having discovered running in 1977, at age 28, while working at Reader's Digest, and stuck in an unhappy marriage, he became more and more involved in the sport over the next 30 years, losing weight, gaining a new body type and the much-needed confidence he lacked growing up as the son of the famous writer John Cheever. Alternating with his personal memories of marathon running from races in Yonkers;, New York City; Boston; Médoc, France; and Baghdad, Cheever explores some troubling questions, such as whether running is really natural for mankind and even good for your health (hunters and gatherers weren't efficient runners, yet humans prove they possess impressive endurance running). Cheever tracks examples from Homer to the earliest and later Olympics, from races in the Dark Ages to the art of pedestrianism to Kenyan secrets of success. Cheever fills his pages with accounts by runners for whom the sport altered them profoundly. A terrific list of his 26.2 favorite books on running caps Cheever's springy, upbeat pep talk for the runnerati. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Cheever, a former journalist and onetime copy editor at Reader's Digest, melds reportorial skills, literary talent and a wicked sense of humor to capture the irony and indefatigable spirit of running in the 21st century....Beginners will relate to Cheever's inauspicious initial forays into fitness and exercise, and veteran runners can share his enthusiasm for the Kenyans and other leaders of the pack. The result is a joyous and inspirational ode to our transformative sport." -Jim Hage, The Washington Post


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; 1st edition (September 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594862281
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594862281
  • ASIN: B0025VL984
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,426,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

A brilliant read.
Juanita W. Breland
Highly recommended read for running enthusiasts and anyone interested in the sport.
casey van maanen
Mr. Cheever is an average, dedicated runner but he is a superb writer.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Gerson Halevy on October 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Benjamin Cheever's Strides: Running Through History with an Unlikely Athlete will turn out to be one of the enduring classics of the sport, placed on any serious runner's bookshelf right beside Jim Fixx's Complete Book of Running and John L. Parker's Once a Runner. Although Strides is, in part, a memoir -- a lyrical and funny meditation on how a sport has transformed one individual's life -- it is also an entertaining and exhaustively researched history of the human being as a running animal. Starting when our remotest ancestors evolved the ability to run long distances in order to hunt for meat, Cheever's history takes us to Pheidippides' first marathon in 490 BC, to foot-races in Renaissance Italy and early America, even to a seemingly impossible 19th-century supermarathon from Constantinople to Calcutta. The sweep of Cheever's book is not only historical but also geographical: starting with his own comically self-effacing recollection of his first jogs in suburban New York, Cheever's account of his metamorphosis as an "unlikely athlete" includes his first marathon in Boston, his runs with soldiers in Germany and in war-ravaged Baghdad, and finally his runs in Kenya - the "University of Champions"-- where he hobnobbed with the likes of Kip Keino, Paul Tergat and Lornah Kiplegat. But this is a book that wears its glories easily -- leisurely enough to observe the odd historical detail, undogmatic in its informed discussion of health issues, generous in it democratic celebration of the sport, and always taking time for the many people met along the way.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bert Krages on October 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a book that runners and nonrunners who like narrative nonfiction will enjoy. It explores various facets of the experience of running from historical, physiological, and personal perspectives. It covers a variety of topics including the author's transition from his bottom-of-the pack attempt to be a high school athlete to his transforming into a dedicated runner as he approached his thirties. Some of the topics I most appreciated were the debate over the healthiness of running, the Kenyan community, the role of running in the Army, and the author's experience serving as a volunteer in the New York marathon. I did not care for the chapter about the marathon in Medoc, France which offended my sensibilities about what runners should strive to be. Nonetheless, the coverage is justified by showing another aspect of the running experience. Most of the material is set around the marathon distance although other distance running is covered. The book is very well written and thoughtfully organized. The author is fairly humble about his running abilities but is actually very good at it. It is good that he applied his writing talents to a book that covers an important part of his life.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael DENNISUK VINE VOICE on February 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the best running books I have ever read! Mr. Cheever is an average, dedicated runner but he is a superb writer. He mixes his personal history with running with the history of the sport. He shares his personal journeys both physical (Kenya, France, Greece, Boston, etc) and emotional. I think one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much was that we are about the same age and have traveled similar paths in our running lives (but he's a lot better runner). This book is thoroughly researched and he draws on a wide variety of material. A plus is the book's Appendix which includes a list of his favorite 26.2 running books of all time. This a book for the runner and non-runner alike. It moves to the top of my best running books list. A GREAT READ!!!
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By WDX2BB on February 28, 2014
Format: Hardcover
What's that they say about the shortest distance between two points?

It's supposed to be a straight line.

You'd think a runner would know that. No one likes to take too many extra steps when running, particularly in a marathon.

Benjamin Cheever is a runner, but he's more interested in his book "Strides" about the journey than in reaching the destination.

Which is a less-than-direct way of saying that it's a pretty entertaining book.

Cheever is always going to be known as the son of John Cheever, the Pulitzer Prize winner. That's a little baggage for someone in the writing business, even though it's a one-sentence introduction to fellow literary types. He has compiled a good career in his own right, with several novels to his credit.

"Strides" is subtitled, "Running through History with an Unlikely Athlete." Cheever is indeed a good, but not great, runner with several marathons to his credit.

This book probably could be broken down into three different categories, and they have varying degrees of effectiveness. At the bottom of the list is Cheever's attempts to review running through history, going back thousands of years. While well-researched and sprinkled with humor, it's tough to make this dry material jump to life.

Some first-person essays work better. Cheever is a good enough runner to have done a variety of interesting runs over the years -- an outing to Kenya to run with the world's best, a jog in Iraq, a marathon in France featuring wine stops instead of water stops -- but he's enough of an everyman in sneakers that the reader wants to tag along.

Even better are essays about the sport itself.
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