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The Greatest: The Haile Gebrselassie Story Paperback – September 1, 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Be in no doubt Haile is the greatest distance runner the world has ever seen." -- Dave Bedford, former 10,000m world record holder, and currently race director for the London Marathon

"Haile Gebrselassie has won many great victories. He is a great ambassador for his people." -- Nelson Mandela

"Haile Gebrselassie is the best distance runner I have seen in the last quarter-century, the most electrifying personality." -- Amby Burfoot, Executive Editor, Runner's World magazine

"Haile is an elegant champion and a fine example of sportsmanship." -- Lasse Viren, Olympic double-gold medalist

About the Author

Originally from New York, Jim Denison currently lives and works in England. He is the editor of The Coach, a bi-monthly magazine for track and field coaches, and his features on running appear regularly in Athletics Weekly. He is the author of BANNISTER AND BEYOND: The Mystique of the Four-Minute Mile. Denison is also a lecturer in sports sociology at the University of Bath.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Breakaway Books; First Edition edition (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1891369482
  • ISBN-13: 978-1891369483
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,076,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
For those who are unfamiliar with Gebrselassie, they will find this book incredibly boring. I, an avid runner, found this book to be a pretty horrible tribute to the greatest distance runner in the last 25 years. Most running books describe races in quite detail and focus on each of the tiring laps that a runner endures. This book on the otherhand basically skips over that saying "Haile won this, got the world record...or Haile lost this, and all of Ethiopia was angry at him." It doesn't go into any detail though. Rather than Haile the runner, this book focuses on Haile the businessman which is not what he is known for nor is it was most people even care much about.
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Format: Paperback
Geb is one of my five favorite runners of all time, but this book is a little sappy even for me. By all accounts, a phenomenal athlete and a great guy; but the author could have been a bit more objective. The writing is a bit uneven as well.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a runner, I love a good running book. The Greatest - the biography of Haile Gebrselassie - a man who dominated distance running for a decade - was extremely inspiring. It balanced the racing with the personal story of Haile, along with a great overview of the Ethiopian running scene and the opportunities and challenges facing the country. In addition to being a champion athlete, Haile has become a very successful Ethiopian businessman and the vignettes about his businesses, why he does them (when he clearly doesn't have to), and how he is focused on continuing to help Ethiopia evolve as a country was powerful. Heroic running, riveting race stories, good Ethiopian history, the passing of the torch of a champion to the next generation, and a guy that everyone would like - what more could you want from a running biography?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is a good narrative and is for a general reader. Judging from its title - it seeks to show why and how a long distance runner Halie Gebreselassie can be considered the greatest runner ever, and in many ways it succeeds in that task.

Competetive sport is by its definition where an athlete seeks to become and stay the best, but not everyone succeeds, some do though and their merit is recognized by the world. In this vicious field the harder you train, the more chance there is that at least you will have a shot at a major competition. More so in Ethiopia where the standard of living is very low and runners are even more obsessed with the idea of being the best of the best. They have to go through immense sacrifices in order to strengthen themselves for competitions.

Among them we see an Ethiopean man H-G. A simple yet very dedicated athlete whose skill can be paired only with his heart. However as many others: no gold medal - no happiness, and even someone with such divine ability to run has to yield the way to the others who are younger and faster, with more stamina.

So what makes H-G "The Greatest"? In authors opinion it is his humbleness and dedication to his country and its people who he dearly loves despite the fact that they may only love him when he is on top. However, we gotta be clear - H-G. is, or was "the greatest" because seeing this guy run was an unparalleld display of ability coupled with almost childish purity of expression of that ability, openness in accepting a well deserved victory and stablity in the post-victorious period. THAT is what made H-G "the greatest", but many may as well disagree..In short, a good book to read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A ok book in my opinion. You get to learn all the tough times that Haile goes through, and all is victories and running times. I would like a bit more on the actual training. All in all a bit thin.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Like all good stories,this one is not written in a vacuum but gives us a very well founded historical and cultural context in its portrayal of one of the greatest track distance runners of all time. Haille Gebrselassie was not only a truly magnificent athlete but also a marvelous human being; a virtue which is brought to our attention continuously throughout.

This book is a 'must read' for any recreational or competitive runner who has the remotest interest in long distance track running. It details the regimen of the top Ethiopian distance runners in what is largely an under resourced infrastructure.

I am a recreational runner who has never been to Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa who's central Meskil Square contains a public 'running track' used by Ethiopa's best Athletes. After reading this book I have resolved to visit Ethiopa in the very near future.
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