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The best-selling author of Born to Run now travels to the Mediterranean, where he discovers that the secrets of ancient Greek heroes are still alive and well on the island of Crete, and ready to be unleashed in the muscles and minds of casual athletes and aspiring heroes everywhere.  After running an ultramarathon through the Copper Canyons of Mexico, Christopher McDougall The best-selling author of Born to Run now travels to the Mediterranean, where he discovers that the secrets of ancient Greek heroes are still alive and well on the island of Crete, and ready to be unleashed in the muscles and minds of casual athletes and aspiring heroes everywhere.  After running an ultramarathon through the Copper Canyons of Mexico, Christopher McDougall finds his next great adventure on the razor-sharp mountains of Crete, where a band of Resistance fighters in World War II plotted the daring abduction of a German general from the heart of the Nazi occupation. How did a penniless artist, a young shepherd, and a playboy poet believe they could carry out such a remarkable feat of strength and endurance, smuggling the general past thousands of Nazi pursuers, with little more than their own wits and courage to guide them?  McDougall makes his way to the island to find the answer and retrace their steps, experiencing firsthand the extreme physical challenges the Resistance fighters and their local allies faced. On Crete, the birthplace of the classical Greek heroism that spawned the likes of Herakles and Odysseus, McDougall discovers the tools of the hero—natural movement, extraordinary endurance, and efficient nutrition. All of these skills, McDougall learns, are still practiced in far-flung pockets throughout the world today. More than a mystery of remarkable people and cunning schemes, Natural Born Heroes is a fascinating investigation into the lost art of the hero, taking us from the streets of London at midnight to the beaches of Brazil at dawn, from the mountains of Colorado to McDougall’s own backyard in Pennsylvania, all places where modern-day athletes are honing ancient skills so they’re ready for anything.  Just as Born to Run inspired readers to get off the treadmill, out of their shoes, and into the natural world, Natural Born Heroes will inspire them to leave the gym and take their fitness routine to nature—to climb, swim, skip, throw, and jump their way to their own heroic feats.


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The best-selling author of Born to Run now travels to the Mediterranean, where he discovers that the secrets of ancient Greek heroes are still alive and well on the island of Crete, and ready to be unleashed in the muscles and minds of casual athletes and aspiring heroes everywhere.  After running an ultramarathon through the Copper Canyons of Mexico, Christopher McDougall The best-selling author of Born to Run now travels to the Mediterranean, where he discovers that the secrets of ancient Greek heroes are still alive and well on the island of Crete, and ready to be unleashed in the muscles and minds of casual athletes and aspiring heroes everywhere.  After running an ultramarathon through the Copper Canyons of Mexico, Christopher McDougall finds his next great adventure on the razor-sharp mountains of Crete, where a band of Resistance fighters in World War II plotted the daring abduction of a German general from the heart of the Nazi occupation. How did a penniless artist, a young shepherd, and a playboy poet believe they could carry out such a remarkable feat of strength and endurance, smuggling the general past thousands of Nazi pursuers, with little more than their own wits and courage to guide them?  McDougall makes his way to the island to find the answer and retrace their steps, experiencing firsthand the extreme physical challenges the Resistance fighters and their local allies faced. On Crete, the birthplace of the classical Greek heroism that spawned the likes of Herakles and Odysseus, McDougall discovers the tools of the hero—natural movement, extraordinary endurance, and efficient nutrition. All of these skills, McDougall learns, are still practiced in far-flung pockets throughout the world today. More than a mystery of remarkable people and cunning schemes, Natural Born Heroes is a fascinating investigation into the lost art of the hero, taking us from the streets of London at midnight to the beaches of Brazil at dawn, from the mountains of Colorado to McDougall’s own backyard in Pennsylvania, all places where modern-day athletes are honing ancient skills so they’re ready for anything.  Just as Born to Run inspired readers to get off the treadmill, out of their shoes, and into the natural world, Natural Born Heroes will inspire them to leave the gym and take their fitness routine to nature—to climb, swim, skip, throw, and jump their way to their own heroic feats.

30 review for Natural Born Heroes: How a Daring Band of Misfits Mastered the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance

  1. 5 out of 5

    La Petite Américaine Cash App: $Covid2020sucks

    Since I consider Chris McDougall (like Laura Hillenbrand and Jon Krakauer) to be one of the few American writers actually worth a damn, I'm going to give him a free pass on Goodreads. I won't rip his new book apart, although the temptation is there. McDougall's first book, Born to Run, had a linear and epic narrative reminiscent of the Odyssey, a rich cast of real life "characters" that the author followed throughout, and a wild central theme that was legitimized by academic studies, evolutionar Since I consider Chris McDougall (like Laura Hillenbrand and Jon Krakauer) to be one of the few American writers actually worth a damn, I'm going to give him a free pass on Goodreads. I won't rip his new book apart, although the temptation is there. McDougall's first book, Born to Run, had a linear and epic narrative reminiscent of the Odyssey, a rich cast of real life "characters" that the author followed throughout, and a wild central theme that was legitimized by academic studies, evolutionary scientists, and the author's personal experiences. Natural Born Heroes, however, reads like our author popped a bunch of speed, got over-excited about tons of different topics -- Nazis, the Paleo Diet, the human fascia, parkour (Jesus H. Christ), foraging in Prospect Park, knife-throwing (sigh), Greek mythology, Wing Chun, Brazilian jiu jitsu -- and couldn't shut up about any of them, but couldn't tie them together in any meaningful way, either. For any book nerd who loved Born to Run as much as I did, a boring follow-up, a schizophrenic narrative, and a story with no real point amount to something a little like heartbreak. I actually wondered if I was part of the problem. Maybe my own mind was too scattered to follow what McDougall was saying. Maybe it was my fault that the narrative felt like it jumped around more than a traceur on bath salts. I even popped a Ritalin (no shit) and tried to focus. But no dice. Whether you're stone cold sober or dialed in on Dexedrine, nothing will change the fact that this is a disjointed, disorienting, and altogether confusing book. I suppose I could forgive the fact that the chapters had nothing to do with each other, but there was something depressing about seeing a brilliant writer get so sloppy: "A few months after refusing to show me Paddy's escape route, he agreed to show me Paddy's escape route." (Did this guy change editors or something?) "We like to think of ourselves as...lone wolves in a dog-eat-dog world, but guess what?: Dogs don't eat dogs." (Oh for the love of...nevermind). Some of the final chapters, in which McDougall touches on the subject of running and the ideal fitness diet are where the author truly shines. A damn near tear-jerking ending that I never saw coming was also reminiscent of the Born to Run Chris McDougall. However, it's upsetting to see that his natural brilliance as a writer was reserved for a handful of pages towards the end of a long-ass book about a bunch of crap I could have Wikipedia'd on my own. While a part of me is tempted to think Chris McDougall has lost his fucking mind, he reveals the real truth of the matter in the Acknowledgements section, where he writes, "I couldn't choose between two different book ideas." Yeah, Chris, I can tell. Let's just forget this ever happened.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    The Hook - Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen is one of my all time favorite reads so when I heard Christopher McDougall was publishing a new book I had to read it. The Line – ”A hero’s one crack at immortality was to be remembered as a champion and champions don’t die dumb.” The Sinker – There are some similar themes shared by Born to Run and Natural Born Heroes: How a Daring Band of Misfits Mastered the Lost Secrets of Strength and Enduran The Hook - Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen is one of my all time favorite reads so when I heard Christopher McDougall was publishing a new book I had to read it. The Line – ”A hero’s one crack at immortality was to be remembered as a champion and champions don’t die dumb.” The Sinker – There are some similar themes shared by Born to Run and Natural Born Heroes: How a Daring Band of Misfits Mastered the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance. Running, super athletes, endurance, and strength play a part in both but in very different ways and style of writing. Born to Run was presented in a more linear, narrative way. Natural Born Heroes did not read as smoothly and felt disjointed. The word that comes to mind for me was hodgepodge. Though the idea of super heroes kidnapping a general on the island of Crete in World War II was intriguing it wasn’t enough to hold my interest. I don’t think I ever quite got it and often felt I was in over my head. I’m certain there is an audience for Natural Born Heroes. It was just not for me.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Okay, I’ve started and deleted this book review several times. Why? Definitely not because I did not like the book … I enjoyed it very much. It’s just that the book is so crammed full of different things I have no idea how to offer a book description. 1. It’s about WWII and how the resistance fighters on Crete foiled Hitler’s attempt to capture the island in “24 hours”. 2. It’s about fitness gurus past and present. 3. It’s about how a rag-tag group of villagers; some British intellectuals and Aussi Okay, I’ve started and deleted this book review several times. Why? Definitely not because I did not like the book … I enjoyed it very much. It’s just that the book is so crammed full of different things I have no idea how to offer a book description. 1. It’s about WWII and how the resistance fighters on Crete foiled Hitler’s attempt to capture the island in “24 hours”. 2. It’s about fitness gurus past and present. 3. It’s about how a rag-tag group of villagers; some British intellectuals and Aussie farm boys bested the Nazi invaders and kidnapped a German general. 4. It’s discusses nutrition idea past and present. 5. It’s about using fascia as opposed to muscle, parkour, martial arts and natural fitness methods. 6. It’s about Lawrence of Arabia, Bruce Lee, Arnaold Schwarzenegger and many other people famous and otherwise. Intrigued yet? It sounds like a lot! It is, yet Mr. McDougall makes it work in a well-written, comprehensive and interesting book. Mr. McDougall intersperses the history with examples of ancient and modern fitness techniques and theories that are aimed at the “everyman”. We can all be “heroes”. In “Born to Run” Mr. McDougall took me to Mexico and introduced me to barefoot runners and ultra-marathoners. In this book he took me to the Greek island of Crete to meet “Natural Born Heroes”. I am not an athlete nor am I a runner so why do I find Mr. McDougall’s books so riveting? He is a natural born storyteller. If you are curious about fitness or if you need a little inspiration this would be great book to pick up. Even if you are not and you just want some interesting history and some background on health, fitness and diet (and the billion dollar industry it has become) it is definitely a very readable and interesting book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ron S

    The author of Born to Run explores the meaning of natural fitness and heroism through the kidnapping of a German general during the occupation of Crete in WWII. Compared to his last book, this one seems to wander a bit and feels a bit rushed but Born to Run is a hard act to follow. While I don't see myself buying this for friends and urging people to read it as I did with his last work, it's nonetheless still a great read that combines myth, history, science and current fitness trends. The author of Born to Run explores the meaning of natural fitness and heroism through the kidnapping of a German general during the occupation of Crete in WWII. Compared to his last book, this one seems to wander a bit and feels a bit rushed but Born to Run is a hard act to follow. While I don't see myself buying this for friends and urging people to read it as I did with his last work, it's nonetheless still a great read that combines myth, history, science and current fitness trends.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Anderson

    I so wanted to love this. The combination of topics: endurance training, physiology, healthy eating, Greek mythology, Parkour, heroes, and WWII in the Grecian Islands form a bizarre Venn diagram of Stuff I Read About all the time. And I really liked McDougall's last book. But to successfully weave together a narrative from such disparate threads, you need a solid frame. A story-telling scaffold. Sadly, this lacks one. The bouncing back and forth between all the topics - as incredibly fascinating I so wanted to love this. The combination of topics: endurance training, physiology, healthy eating, Greek mythology, Parkour, heroes, and WWII in the Grecian Islands form a bizarre Venn diagram of Stuff I Read About all the time. And I really liked McDougall's last book. But to successfully weave together a narrative from such disparate threads, you need a solid frame. A story-telling scaffold. Sadly, this lacks one. The bouncing back and forth between all the topics - as incredibly fascinating as they all are - without a credible arc was disappointing. If you get as excited as I do about the subjects mentioned above, it's absolutely worth reading. Then sigh and think about how this very interesting book could have been edited to become a great book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mark Lofquist

    i hate to say it... but 'meh'. in the acknowledgments, Chris explains 'it's really two books in one.' but i don't think they go together. i'm a tiny bit of a snob for saying this, but i knew all the information on fat burning, endurance adaptation, etc. the WW2 story makes the other half, and it's interesting but really largely conjecture. too much hyperbole, such as: 'humans are the greatest endurance animals and have covered more ground than any other animal'. of course, that's unless you coun i hate to say it... but 'meh'. in the acknowledgments, Chris explains 'it's really two books in one.' but i don't think they go together. i'm a tiny bit of a snob for saying this, but i knew all the information on fat burning, endurance adaptation, etc. the WW2 story makes the other half, and it's interesting but really largely conjecture. too much hyperbole, such as: 'humans are the greatest endurance animals and have covered more ground than any other animal'. of course, that's unless you count migrating birds, camels, etc.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michele

    This book is parkour in words and by that I mean it is all over the place. We go here we go there and we are up and then we are down. It is a dizzying amount of information thrown at you from many a direction. Having said that there were times that this book had a lot of energy, kind of like me on too much sugar, and I enjoyed that part of the wild ride. He has a lot of enthusiasm and I think it came through. I think I actually burned calories while reading some of this book. If you are reading t This book is parkour in words and by that I mean it is all over the place. We go here we go there and we are up and then we are down. It is a dizzying amount of information thrown at you from many a direction. Having said that there were times that this book had a lot of energy, kind of like me on too much sugar, and I enjoyed that part of the wild ride. He has a lot of enthusiasm and I think it came through. I think I actually burned calories while reading some of this book. If you are reading this as a WWII book you will be disappointed. If you are reading this as a fitness book you will be a bit happier, but if you are reading this as both with some fun nutrition thrown in as well, you will like it a whole lot more. I liked the idea of Xenia: You offer food. You offer a bath. You ask no questions. pg.113 The magic gang? A group that faked bombing so German recon planes would think the harbor had been hit? Absolutely fascinating! Loved it. We've lulled ourselves into believing that in an emergency, someone else will always come along to rescue us. (He should read Ted Koppel's book, "Lights Out") We've stopped relying on our own wonderfully adaptable bodies; we've forgotten that we can think, climb, leap, run, throw, swim and fight with more versatility than any other creature on the planet. (Lots of truth here) pg. 200 Performance on backwards digit-span significantly improved when participants walked in nature, but not when they walked downtown.pg. 222

  8. 4 out of 5

    Steve Greenleaf

    What do the following have in common? · LeBron James · Brazil · Arthur Evans · Patrick Leigh Fermor · Tom Myers · Fairbairn & Sykes · Shanghai · Pankration (Greek) · George Hebert · Norina Bentzel · Xan Fielding · The Minotaur · Wing Chun · Steve Maxwell · The Arizona desert · John Pendleberry · a glass eye · Fritz Schubert, a/k/a “the Turk” · Erwan Le Corre · Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller · Dr. Phil Maffetone · Dwight Howard · William Banting · Hitler · Churchill · Crete If you had a difficult time discerning connections, don What do the following have in common? · LeBron James · Brazil · Arthur Evans · Patrick Leigh Fermor · Tom Myers · Fairbairn & Sykes · Shanghai · Pankration (Greek) · George Hebert · Norina Bentzel · Xan Fielding · The Minotaur · Wing Chun · Steve Maxwell · The Arizona desert · John Pendleberry · a glass eye · Fritz Schubert, a/k/a “the Turk” · Erwan Le Corre · Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller · Dr. Phil Maffetone · Dwight Howard · William Banting · Hitler · Churchill · Crete If you had a difficult time discerning connections, don’t feel badly about it (although the last three items provide a strong indication of one topic). These topics—among dozens of other possible examples—are tied together in the two books written by Chris McDougall as one book: Natural Born Heroes: How a Daring Band of Misfits Mastered the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance (2015). In this book, McDougall examines the German invasion and subsequent resistance movement on Crete during WWII. British Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents aided the Cretans during the occupation. These tales provide the central core of the book. Around this central core—fascinating and cinematic in its own right--McDougall constructs a second book about human performance from ancient Minoan culture to contemporary Parkour. In lesser hands this could have resulted in a mess, but as McDougall displayed in another favorite book of mine, Born to Run, he can weave and integrate stories as a master. The end result is a delightfully fun and entertaining book. The story of the invasion of Crete and the Cretan resistance probably isn’t well known among Americans, but it includes some incredible tales. Certainly the most astonishing feat—anywhere—involved successfully kidnapping of a German general. The heist was conducted by British agents, led by Patrick Leigh Fermor, and Cretan resistance-fighters (and a largely sympathetic populace). Some may recognize Fermor as among the best English prose stylists of the 20th century. His books include an account of his walk across Europe starting in 1933 (as a teenager) as well as accounts of Greece, monastic life, and the Caribbean. But one topic that he did not write at length about (other than in official reports) was his part in successfully kidnapping the German general and getting the general off the island of Crete on to Egypt. (If you think that this begs for a movie, it spawned one long ago: “Ill Met ByMoonlight” (or “Night Ambush”), starring Dirk Bogarde as Fermor. Bogarde, by the way, was a dashing British film star of his era. Billy Moss, one of Fermor’s accomplices in the exploit, wrote the book.) But McDougall wanted to write a book about human performance, also. And so in recounting this tale of adventure—with lots of James Bond-like suave from the Brits—he also dives into the issue of how these men, Cretans and Britons, could have mastered such as harsh terrain while alluding capture by the forces of “The Butcher”, the other German general on the island. This tale of extraordinary human performance allows McDougall to tell about Brits learning to survive in the harsh Shanghai underworld of the early 20th century; about how the Frenchman George Hebert developed and trained people to survive and thrive using nature as a training ground; about how Erwan Le Corre resurrected Hebert’s genius and brought it into the 21st century; about how Tom Myers revealed that the fascia (connective tissue) provides the architecture and elastic energy that powers the human body; and about how Parkour demonstrates practical application of Myers’s insights about the elastic energy of the fascia. McDougall also hunted down the reclusive Phil Maffetone to learn about how he revolutionized diet and training techniques for distance runners like Stu Mittleman along lines that Paleo/Primal adherents will recognize as kindred thinking. And McDougall relates how distance running guru Dr. Timothy Noakes, the high priest of high-carb for distance runners, underwent a conversion of Pauline-like intensity to embrace a low-carb, high-fat “Banting” diet. (“I was quite wrong. Sorry, everyone.”) I could go on at great length about this book because it contains so many different angles, so many intriguing side-stories. But I will stop here to and sum it all up by saying that I found the book great fun. It provided well-told stories about fascinating stuff (WWII history and human performance are among my favorite topics), but even if you don’t’ share my predilections, I believe that most readers would enjoy this book. Side note: Because I didn’t read Born to Run but listened to it twice, I decide to listen to Natural Born Heroes. Alas, the listening experience was not as good. Mostly because the reader attempted—rather poorly—too many accents: British, Greek, American, French, and so on. He mastered none. Perhaps you’d have to get Meryl Streep or resurrect Olivier to do it right. In addition, because there was so much information, so much learning, I bought the book for my Kindle for my second and later readings.

  9. 5 out of 5

    George Karaminas

    I LOVED Natural Born Heroes, what a unique and exceptional book! Easily one of the best books I've read in a long time. Especially as a Greek and natural movement enthusiast, this book really inspired me! McDougall weaves together the 2 topics in an amazing story that actually happened during WWII! I have a newfound and deep respect for Cretans – they are truly exceptional people. I also loved being led down so many rabbit holes and searching Wikipedia and Google to learn even more of the back s I LOVED Natural Born Heroes, what a unique and exceptional book! Easily one of the best books I've read in a long time. Especially as a Greek and natural movement enthusiast, this book really inspired me! McDougall weaves together the 2 topics in an amazing story that actually happened during WWII! I have a newfound and deep respect for Cretans – they are truly exceptional people. I also loved being led down so many rabbit holes and searching Wikipedia and Google to learn even more of the back stories. I learned *so much* throughout this book. As further reading, aside from my online look-ups, I have already ordered the fascinating George Psychoundakis's book "The Cretan Runner" and will also buy it in its original Greek. As further doing, I've signed up to learn the Ancient Greek martial art called Pankration, since it's available nearby. There are so many more insights I've gained from this book that I look forward to exploring! Chris McDougall is an excellent writer, really kept me engaged all along, constantly wanting to know what comes next. Very highly recommended, to everyone and anyone. Forget any naysayers, just read it and you'll understand. I will definitely be reading this one again, likely sooner than later. P.S. Although I listened to the audiobook and thoroughly enjoyed it, I also bought the paperback and would mostly recommend the latter. Maybe it's just the way my brain works but I really prefer to see how names are spelled, to follow along and retain information better.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tara Scott

    If you are looking for anything remotely comparable to Born to Run, find another book. This was gut wrenchingly boring and I barely made it through. There was nothing I liked about this book. I couldn't follow the story, it didn't seem linear. What a disappointment. If you are looking for anything remotely comparable to Born to Run, find another book. This was gut wrenchingly boring and I barely made it through. There was nothing I liked about this book. I couldn't follow the story, it didn't seem linear. What a disappointment.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bex

    I loved this- so much that I am desperate to get my hands on Paddy's letters to Xan. And I want to read most of the books in the cited pages at the end. The motto that we are to be useful has really stuck with me too. I recommend this book to everyone who has even a small interest in the human body and what it can do under duress- but from an ethnographic viewpoint with some biology rather than a study of adernaline and endorphins. Seriously, it is so fun and interesting. I loved this- so much that I am desperate to get my hands on Paddy's letters to Xan. And I want to read most of the books in the cited pages at the end. The motto that we are to be useful has really stuck with me too. I recommend this book to everyone who has even a small interest in the human body and what it can do under duress- but from an ethnographic viewpoint with some biology rather than a study of adernaline and endorphins. Seriously, it is so fun and interesting.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Farrell

    To be honest this book wasn't quite what I was expecting. I was looking more for Chris' experience in bringing the type of training he describes to the real world, and instead we spend a ton of time wandering around Crete in World War 2 - which has its good parts, but not as deep as his other work. Read Born to Run instead. To be honest this book wasn't quite what I was expecting. I was looking more for Chris' experience in bringing the type of training he describes to the real world, and instead we spend a ton of time wandering around Crete in World War 2 - which has its good parts, but not as deep as his other work. Read Born to Run instead.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shane Parrish

    This book explores multiple disciplines to uncover the secrets behind human endurance. McDougall's investigation into endurance connects World War II history, ancient Greek history, nutrition, genetics, strength and conditioning science, and even parkour. "On the treacherous mountains of Crete, a motley band of World War II Resistance fighters — an artist, a shepherd, and a poet — abducted a German commander from the heart of the Axis occupation. To understand how, McDougall retraces their steps This book explores multiple disciplines to uncover the secrets behind human endurance. McDougall's investigation into endurance connects World War II history, ancient Greek history, nutrition, genetics, strength and conditioning science, and even parkour. "On the treacherous mountains of Crete, a motley band of World War II Resistance fighters — an artist, a shepherd, and a poet — abducted a German commander from the heart of the Axis occupation. To understand how, McDougall retraces their steps across the island that birthed Herakles and Odysseus, and discovers ancient techniques for endurance, sustenance, and natural movement that have been preserved in unique communities around the world."

  14. 4 out of 5

    diane

    I wasn't really sure what I was getting myself into when I started this book, but truly: I am so glad I read this. It's chock full of history, adventure, daring-do, kidnappings, escapes, tragedy, triumph!, and along the way I learned more about the exercise types I want to pursue and the diet that will help me get there. Yeah, I know what that sounds like. But McDougall dug into a story about how rebels on Crete during the second World War accomplished what they accomplished, and how we as a peopl I wasn't really sure what I was getting myself into when I started this book, but truly: I am so glad I read this. It's chock full of history, adventure, daring-do, kidnappings, escapes, tragedy, triumph!, and along the way I learned more about the exercise types I want to pursue and the diet that will help me get there. Yeah, I know what that sounds like. But McDougall dug into a story about how rebels on Crete during the second World War accomplished what they accomplished, and how we as a people have learned and forgotten this stuff about a billion times. That's cool - I do that personally all the time, why should we as a people do any less? But it also tapped this thing I was looking for: an MO, or a guiding principle upon which I can hang the things I want to do in my life: "Be fit to be useful" and "True heroism, as the ancients understood, isn’t about strength, or boldness, or even courage. It’s about compassion." I can't find the exact words he uses in the book, but they were the Grecian ideas of strength, flexibility, and community that makes a hero great. A hero is not out to do a thing for themselves, they are out to do a thing in the service of another. I am explaining badly, mostly because I am excited about the idea, which has not fully gelled in my mind. Back to the book: McDougall takes us on a circuitous rout through the harrowing adventures of the resistance fighters in Crete during WWII, all the while weaving in modern day science to explain how these men accomplished the physically grueling feats they accomplished in the service of their fellows. It's fascinating, it's odd, it's against most of what "they" tell us is healthy or the right way. And it works. A fun, inspiring, educational book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rick Wilson

    It's not bad. It's not Born to Run either. Rough strokes are that it's about human ability and how removed we are from a natural existence. McDougall tells a good story, and it's an enjoyable read, but it seems like he took the template from Born to Run and transposed it onto another idea. There are plenty of entertaining bits. Plenty of action. But the book seems to bounce from topic to topic like one of the parkour runners described. I think part of the flatness is from that over reach on topic It's not bad. It's not Born to Run either. Rough strokes are that it's about human ability and how removed we are from a natural existence. McDougall tells a good story, and it's an enjoyable read, but it seems like he took the template from Born to Run and transposed it onto another idea. There are plenty of entertaining bits. Plenty of action. But the book seems to bounce from topic to topic like one of the parkour runners described. I think part of the flatness is from that over reach on topic, this book covers everything from Paleo, parkour, body weight fitness, to Greek mythology. A leaner, condensed version, with more depth on a few of the topics would have done a better job of conveying the material.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Darren Shaw

    Wow. Natural Born Heroes is a bit of a mess, but in as good a way as I can imagine. As other reviewers have mentioned, there is a lot going on here: exercise physiology, nutrition, ancient and modern history, politics, war, martial arts, and a few other things. These ideas don’t flow together seamlessly by any stretch. It’s messy and cluttered and at times, forced. But dangit, McDougall just seems to be having such a great time telling it that I found myself engaged anyway. He’s so darned excite Wow. Natural Born Heroes is a bit of a mess, but in as good a way as I can imagine. As other reviewers have mentioned, there is a lot going on here: exercise physiology, nutrition, ancient and modern history, politics, war, martial arts, and a few other things. These ideas don’t flow together seamlessly by any stretch. It’s messy and cluttered and at times, forced. But dangit, McDougall just seems to be having such a great time telling it that I found myself engaged anyway. He’s so darned excited - about natural movement, fat-as-fuel, the Cretan Rebellion, pankration, wing chun, kidnapping nazi generals, running on goat trails - about all of it. And that energy ended up carrying me through what is otherwise a weird and disjointed book. I will read Born to Run, which I’ve heard is better written, and more focused. It’ll be interesting to compare it with this one.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Copeland

    I enjoyed “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougal so I thought I’d enjoy this as well. I understand what he was trying to do with jumping back in time, to his current experience, while taking a side jaunt of the science behind the body’s fascia. It all felt a little disjointed, but a pretty enjoyable read nonetheless. Hearing about this part of history in WWII was fascinating, and about the people of Crete’s contribution to defeating the Nazis as well.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Payton

    I am very conflicted on what rating to give this book. There are small parts that are very interesting and informative. However, I felt like this book was all over the place. At times it is talking about a World War 2 story, then it switches to workouts, then to diets, and then to the authors personal story of tracing the footsteps of those in the World War 2 part. Overall, I just was not a huge fan of how the book flowed but did find some of the information very helpful and interesting.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tara - Running 'n' Reading

    The bottom line is that my expectations for the book were just too high. I really enjoyed Born to Run; it had a great story, entertaining and captivating characters and, well, let's be honest...it's about running. I completely bought in to the whole thing: I wanted to make some kind of crazy chia seed mixture, I thought more about my running form and the shoes I wear, and I decided that an ultramarathon sounded like fun; none of this lasted, thankfully, but I was that taken with the book. Without The bottom line is that my expectations for the book were just too high. I really enjoyed Born to Run; it had a great story, entertaining and captivating characters and, well, let's be honest...it's about running. I completely bought in to the whole thing: I wanted to make some kind of crazy chia seed mixture, I thought more about my running form and the shoes I wear, and I decided that an ultramarathon sounded like fun; none of this lasted, thankfully, but I was that taken with the book. Without a doubt, McDougall is a fantastic investigator and reporter; I'm not so sure about his storytelling skills after getting into this one. Born to Run already had a great story; McDougall didn't have to do much crafting, he just reported on what he'd gathered during that adventure and the story was there. The material presented in Natural Born Heroes is not flashy and definitely was not as exciting, to me. I made it just over halfway through the book and then ran into a huge problem - I was having to force myself to open up the book and often could not read for very long without becoming distracted. This is no fun, and I have way too many other good books to read. While the majority of the books I read are fiction, I do enjoy nonfiction and most of the nonfiction literature I read is, at the very least, somewhat entertaining; my days of reading uninteresting nonfiction ended around the same time I graduated from college. As a student of history, one of my favorite college professors taught the history of Greek & Roman society/culture & warfare; while some of the material presented in McDougall's work was familiar, it was not interesting enough to keep me hanging on. The narrative jumps around a lot and, at times, I couldn't put together how one thing related to another. This could, quite possibly, be just the book for you; it was not, however, the book for me.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ronald

    McDougall is also the author of Born to Run which I read and enjoyed. This is very similar. McDougall likes to find a remote style of some culture and somehow try to make us think that culture should be universal. The only reason it isn't is because of some major corporation that has sold us all a lie, than he finds some remote "Dr" of something to prove his point. In his first book it was Nike and as a result we all run with knee issues, however, those that are running minimalist, have foot and McDougall is also the author of Born to Run which I read and enjoyed. This is very similar. McDougall likes to find a remote style of some culture and somehow try to make us think that culture should be universal. The only reason it isn't is because of some major corporation that has sold us all a lie, than he finds some remote "Dr" of something to prove his point. In his first book it was Nike and as a result we all run with knee issues, however, those that are running minimalist, have foot and ankle issues or the more conventional runners have knee issues. You have to be a conspiracy fan to enjoy the book. You don't think about his "factual information" very much or you will miss a chapter trying to weed out the truth from friction. You can't read to far into this book being in the "non-fiction" category or you will think you got sold a bait and switch book. So, read it as fiction, and if you run across any accurate historical information just throw it in the bowl and enjoy the whole thing.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Robert Case

    A good book with a lengthy and over stated title. So many things about it work well. It's a mesmerizing travelogue to 1940's Crete and a fascinating piece of World War II history. And, there's an interesting backstory...or is it philosophy...about the nature of the ideal hero. For that, the author draws from the legends of Greek mythology, with references to both gods and ordinary mortals like Daedalus and Odysseus. But, the narrative insists on time traveling to places like a 21st century Brazi A good book with a lengthy and over stated title. So many things about it work well. It's a mesmerizing travelogue to 1940's Crete and a fascinating piece of World War II history. And, there's an interesting backstory...or is it philosophy...about the nature of the ideal hero. For that, the author draws from the legends of Greek mythology, with references to both gods and ordinary mortals like Daedalus and Odysseus. But, the narrative insists on time traveling to places like a 21st century Brazilian rain forest and new characters that this reader never cared very much about. In the resulting time warps, the pace dragged to a crawl; which is exactly the opposite of the high endurance, fast moving, long distance runners eulogized by the book. For me, the natural ending for this book should have been the triumph of the World War II mountain guerillas. For some reason, the author kept going into a minutia of nutritional and dietary suggestions for 21 century readers. The additional chapters were an excessive distraction that added little to the book..

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alex Lee

    This is a very strange book in how it interweaves so many different topics. I heard much of the audio book before reading this. In many ways the audio book is better even if it feels frustratingly slow sometimes. The readers voice adds a timber to the expression that isn't present in the book. Somehow, McDougall is able to cohere a book out of this, a theme that is both real life fitting and enduring about what it means to be a human fit to be a member of a community. He manages to make a book abo This is a very strange book in how it interweaves so many different topics. I heard much of the audio book before reading this. In many ways the audio book is better even if it feels frustratingly slow sometimes. The readers voice adds a timber to the expression that isn't present in the book. Somehow, McDougall is able to cohere a book out of this, a theme that is both real life fitting and enduring about what it means to be a human fit to be a member of a community. He manages to make a book about health, and diet and lifestyle into an adventure book... where sharpness of mind and body meets sharpness of character. Bravo.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Angie Libert

    I absolutely LOVED this book! A mix of WWII history, natural movement, and hero prototyping made this book an absolute delight to read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    Good, but really big shoes to fill after born to rum

  25. 4 out of 5

    Parker

    This booked cranked me up to be human. McDougall's well-crafted work weaves together an incredible and bizarrely unknown story from the Second World War with an explanation of ancient human capacities that today we take for granted and almost always fail to fully exploit. For instance, the importance of fascia, allowing us to rebound and tie together complex full-body movements, such as throwing, jumping, climbing, fighting, and running. Along with complex brains and improved eyesight, we were a This booked cranked me up to be human. McDougall's well-crafted work weaves together an incredible and bizarrely unknown story from the Second World War with an explanation of ancient human capacities that today we take for granted and almost always fail to fully exploit. For instance, the importance of fascia, allowing us to rebound and tie together complex full-body movements, such as throwing, jumping, climbing, fighting, and running. Along with complex brains and improved eyesight, we were able to evolve to throw harder than any other animal and with precision while tracking four or more variables, the target's position, the target's direction of movement, the velocity of the projectile, and the lead required to hit the target. Other animals, such as guerrillas and monkeys can be taught to throw, but as McDougall points out, they lack the ability to track the above variables and rotate around their spine, limiting their velocity to around 20 mph. Whereas humans can achieve north of 100 mph. So, why 4-stars. First, 4-stars on my scale is as high as a book can get before it becomes a "life-altering book." This book, while very good, was not life-altering because its content and information were not entirely new and is not foundational to my understanding of life. Honestly, this is not the fault of McDougall. Certainly, he did not set out to be foundational, but rather informative. He achieved the latter without breaking a sweat. Second, the one legitimate critique I have of this book is that McDougall could have dispensed with a few of the tangential stories throughout. At times, I found it difficult to understand why exactly he went tearing down a rabbit hole for a few pages, only to emerge and say, "cool, now that I did that, we continue from where I left you." Some of these tangential stories were certainly valid and gave important context. But others were distantly related and muddied the waters where otherwise unnecessary. Lastly, and this is not so much a critique as an observation, every human is different, and what each of us can do and how we should eat is very relative. McDougall is, understandably, generic when discussing movement ability and diet. I say this because I could see individuals reading this book and sprinting out the door while only eating almonds. That might work for you, but it also might not. Ultimately, this book is a great source of inspiration and knowledge on basic human performance and what we can achieve when we tap into the ancient abilities of our species.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Gow

    Not as good as Born to Run (which is one of my favorites) but still great. The comparison actually hurts this book. It’s the same as born to run in the sense that it’s a semi-gladwellian kind of story-telling and anecdotal science that is intriguing and attention -grabbing, though at times may need to be fact-checked. One major difference is that this book’s thesis is more complex. (Born to run’s was essentially “run all the time, maybe do it barefoot.”) This book has a more complex thesis becau Not as good as Born to Run (which is one of my favorites) but still great. The comparison actually hurts this book. It’s the same as born to run in the sense that it’s a semi-gladwellian kind of story-telling and anecdotal science that is intriguing and attention -grabbing, though at times may need to be fact-checked. One major difference is that this book’s thesis is more complex. (Born to run’s was essentially “run all the time, maybe do it barefoot.”) This book has a more complex thesis because it is dealing with more complex elements of what it means to be human. Heroism, being ready and able to serve others is more than physical, and even the physical elements go beyond mere endurance. But I really like the premise, it was really entertaining, and it made me want to be useful and compassionate to others - what more could a reader want?

  27. 5 out of 5

    andrew chapello

    Two thirds of this book were very intriguing. The story consists of three parallel narratives: - World War II in Crete - The evolutionary history of humans, of natural movements and diets long lost - Chris McDougall's personal journey of discovery in natural movement and diet I found the first two story lines quite intriguing, and the third to be wholly uninteresting and self-serving by the author. However, the first two story lines stand well on their own, and would have made for a very intriguing f Two thirds of this book were very intriguing. The story consists of three parallel narratives: - World War II in Crete - The evolutionary history of humans, of natural movements and diets long lost - Chris McDougall's personal journey of discovery in natural movement and diet I found the first two story lines quite intriguing, and the third to be wholly uninteresting and self-serving by the author. However, the first two story lines stand well on their own, and would have made for a very intriguing four-star book. There are lots of great stories about ancient ways of living, and the lessons we can learn for adapting them into our lives. There are also very interesting, almost unbelievable, true stories of endurance and cunning in World War II.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Adam Jones

    This book is more than just a story of heroisms and English misfits who successfully kidnapped a german general. Every single chapter is in itself another small book of information, or a reference point, if you will (but you don't have to), expanding your mind and informing you to point just beyond curiosity, demanding you pause the book immediately and start googling shit and adding books to your Amazon cart, or wherever you buy books from. I have 7 new books to read and a plethora of new knowl This book is more than just a story of heroisms and English misfits who successfully kidnapped a german general. Every single chapter is in itself another small book of information, or a reference point, if you will (but you don't have to), expanding your mind and informing you to point just beyond curiosity, demanding you pause the book immediately and start googling shit and adding books to your Amazon cart, or wherever you buy books from. I have 7 new books to read and a plethora of new knowledge. I sincerely hope to live a life as full as the characters in this nonfiction work of genius. I hope to visit Greece and Crete, and open a natural movements outside gym and live off my own fat for the rest of my life. Great writing Chris!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    I really enjoyed this book though there were a lot of themes covered, so at times it was hard to stay attentive to what was happening on Crete during WWII. That said, I did enjoy the extra content covering things like Fat as Fuel and other sports nutrition, history of Crete, Greek mythology, parkour, natural movement and more. All of the themes are woven throughout the story about a group that kidnaps a German General and attempts to smuggle him off the island while "The Butcher" attempts to cap I really enjoyed this book though there were a lot of themes covered, so at times it was hard to stay attentive to what was happening on Crete during WWII. That said, I did enjoy the extra content covering things like Fat as Fuel and other sports nutrition, history of Crete, Greek mythology, parkour, natural movement and more. All of the themes are woven throughout the story about a group that kidnaps a German General and attempts to smuggle him off the island while "The Butcher" attempts to capture them. If you want to learn more about fat as fuel, which I am now intrigued by, check out William Banting, Dr. Phil Maffetone and Tim Noakes. Noakes famously advocated for carb-loading for endurance runners, but after developing type 2 diabetes has retracted that position. He now runs a foundation that tries to understand the affects carbs have on our body. He also follows a low carb high fat diet similar to the ones described in the book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    I enjoyed McDougall's previous book 'Born to Run'. While this book provides interesting theories and good info about endurance training, the interconnecting story of WW II espionage on the island of Crete doesn't come together. I enjoyed McDougall's previous book 'Born to Run'. While this book provides interesting theories and good info about endurance training, the interconnecting story of WW II espionage on the island of Crete doesn't come together.

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