Neal Bascomb

New York Times Bestseller & BookSense Pick

Perfect Mile
(Now available in paperback)

A stirring account of the race to break sport's epic barrierthe 4-minute mileconsidered the 20th century's greatest sporting achievement.

“A 50-year-old racing story of shimmering hope and impossible odds…Quaint in the way great myths are quaint: simply structured, resonant with implication, ageless, universal.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

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Description: There was a time when running the mile in four minutes was believed to be entirely beyond the limits of human foot speed. And in all of sport it was the elusive holy grail. In 1952, after suffering defeat at the Helsinki Olympics, three world-class runners set out individually to break this formidable barrier. Roger Bannister was a young English medical student who epitomized the ideal of the amateurstill driven not just by winning but by the nobility of the pursuit. John Landy was the privileged son of a genteel Australian family, who as a boy preferred butterfly collecting to running but who trained relentlessly in an almost spiritual attempt to shape his mind and body to this singular task. Then there was Wes Santee, the swaggering American, a Kansas farm boy who was a natural athlete and who believed he was just plain better than everybody else.

Santee was the first to throw down the gauntlet in what would become a three-way race of body, heart, and soul. Each young man endured thousands of hours of training, bore the weight of his nation's expectations on his shoulders, and still dared to push his very limits. Their collective quest captivated the world and stole headlines from the Korean War, the atomic race, and such legendary figures as Edmund Hillary, Willie Mays, Native Dancer, and Ben Hogan. Who would be the first to achieve the unachievable? And who among them would be the best when they went head to head? In the answer came the perfect mile.

In the tradition of Seabiscuit and Chariots of Fire, a breathtaking story of unlikely heroes that leaves us with a lasting portrait of the twilight years of the golden age of sport.