The Perfect Mile

I’m a running geek and a writer and I loved THE PERFECT MILE. I listened to it on CD.

It’s the story of three athletes, Roger Bannister from England, John Landy from Australia, and Wes Santee from Kansas, USA, each of whom wanted to be the first to break the four-minute mile barrier, a feat many thought beyond the capability of any man. Author Neal Bascomb weaved the three men’s backgrounds and race histories into a tale with enough tension to keep me listening despite the fact that I knew many of the outcomes beforehand. Without creating cliffhangers that might annoy readers, he left one story and moved onto another at such a place where it left the reader wondering what happened next. He also answered all the reader’s questions generated by the story at the place where the question was raised. This helped create smooth transitions among the stories of the three men.

In addition to the skillful storytelling, I was also impressed with the tremendous amount of research that went into this book. Newspaper headlines from each race (and there were many) as well as quotations from individuals pepper the book with authenticity. This is creative nonfiction at its best.