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The Four-Minute Mile, Fiftieth-Anniversary Edition Paperback – Bargain Price, May 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Forty-some years after the barrier was broken it's difficult to imagine how daunting a challenge the four-minute mile once was, but for a generation of world-class runners it represented the impossible dream. Roger Bannister, the British middle-distance runner who finally achieved the epic quest in 1954, wrote this stunning memoir of his life as a runner a year later; intelligent, analytical, dramatic, and graceful, it remains a sporting classic. Though two introductions have been added in years since, it's a shame that Bannister, a remarkable man who graduated from Oxford to a distinguished medical career, has never penned a more complete memoir. Still, his achievement as a young man remains one of the pivotal moments in 20th-century sports, and his account of that achievement is as good a glimpse into a runner's race toward greatness as has ever been written. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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"Bannister writes in much the same fashion as he runs-with rippling smoothness, eye-catching grace, and spectacular effectiveness." --The New York Times


"...makes for compelling reading..."-- New York Runner

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: The Lyons Press; 50 Anv edition (May 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592285813
  • ASIN: B002WTCBI6
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,193,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Zev Kaptowsky on November 25, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a cross-country runner in high school this book by Roger Bannister was a great inspiration to me. His description of the assault on the 4 minute mile barrier is fascinating but also memorable are his recollections of the Helsinki Olympics (where Bannister failed to achieve a medal), and his success at the Commonwealth Games where the only two sub-4 minute milers met face to face for the first time.

It's now about 40 years since I first read the book and I was very pleased it was republished in a commemorative edition.

Reading the book again was a joy. The book went very quickly and had most of the excitement of when I first read it. It was not surprising tha the prose and impressions seemed less mature than when I first read them, but that was to be expected as Bannister wrote the book when he was in his twenties.

I was disappointed that the pictures were not the same as the original edition, with perhaps too many pictures of Bannister in later years. The original pictures of the Helsinki Olympics and other competitions were an integral part of the book and it's a shame that they were missing.

Bannisters achievement in breaking the Four Minute Mile was a milestone (pardon the pun), as was the fact that he did it as an amateur and while he was in the middle of his medical studies. In my opinion his book is also a great achievement and is certainly worth the read.
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24 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
Bannister not only was the greatest runner of his time, he also was a incredibly thinking and balanced man. He was an amatuer because he understood running was only a means to a better life.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
Roger Bannister sets about telling the story of his historic record 4 minute mile but in the process he reveals that there is more to life than just running. This book is quite unlike most running books I have read in that Bannister strives to keep things in perspective amid spectacular and historic events. It could just be his British demeanor, but I found narrative rather enjoying.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Kingore on December 23, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After a disappointing finish in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, in which he set a British record in the 1500 meters but placed fourth and did not win a medal, Roger Bannister returned to his native England with a single goal in mind—the four-minute mile. But this book is not about records and not about racing the clock. It’s a book about competition. Reading the story from Bannister’s perspective is refreshing. He focuses more on the talented athletes against whom he ran than he does the particular records he set or gut-wrenching workouts he endured while balancing his training against the demands of medical school. (In 1963, Bannister earned his medical degree from Oxford and became a neurologist.)

The four-minute mile, the ‘Dream Mile’ to some, a seemingly insurmountable barrier fell on cool and windy day—May 6, 1954. With 3,000 people in attendance and the race broadcast live on BBC Radio, expectations were high. “The four-minute mile had become rather like an Everest,” Bannister writes in The Four-Minute Mile (1955). He was paced by friends and fellow Olympians Chataway and Brasher, whom he credits for their aid in the historic attempt. But just 46 days later on June 21, Bannister’s new record was broken by his rival, the Australian John Landy, setting up an epic showdown on August 7 at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver. There, the only two men at the time to have broken the four-minute barrier faced off for the first time in a head-to-head foot race with Bannister inching past Landy in the last lap and solidifying Bannister’s legacy.

“Records are the bare bones of athletics, like numbers to a mathematician,” Bannister writes. “Unless given a human touch they have no life, no appeal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a very interesting bk but maybe he should talk more about the running (after all it is the 4 min mile) and introduce his characters before he starts to talk about them.
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By Gene Cisco on August 3, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is amazing how vivid it all came back to me, since I was about 8 years old and the name Bannister became passed around. What is exceptional about this account, is how chosen pivotal athletes seem to be in their respective sports, so that when we read their stories there is much to be mined. After reading this offhand, medical student's on-the-run account of those heady days, I am even more convinced how special he was to the sport and the discipline of life. Like Ray Berry, Johnny Unitas's wide receiver on the Baltimore Colts in the late fifties, Bannister possessed an incredible self-awareness and keen analytical skills that pre-date the modern athlete. Outsiders only see the athlete, but inside is the scientific mind at work, attempting the impossible feat of cheating nature and man's limitations. It was apparent to this reader early on, that Roger Bannister was about to make larger contributions in the medical field as well. It was also gleaned how foolhardy Steve Prefontaine was in his training habits by letting his heart run free; Bannister explains how the body had to be trained for higher performance, not just willed. Bannister's philosophy about running appears clinical, serving notice to all, that the pathway to a widened life is unrestricted if one leads an examined life.
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