Christopher McDougall's journey begins with a story of remarkable athletic prowess: 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.
His search takes us scrambling over rooftops with a Parkour crew in London, foraging for greens with a ballerina in Brooklyn, tossing heavy pieces of driftwood on a Brazilian beach with the creator of MovNat-and, finally, to our own backyards. Natural Born Heroes will inspire readers to unleash the extraordinary potential of the human body and climb, swim, skip, throw, and jump their way to heroic feats.
A mash note to physical endurance. . . . McDougall redefines the heroic ideal, establishing heroism as a skill set rather than a virtue. . . . [And] schools the reader in the art of the champion. . . . The essential narrative here, the twisty tale of a kidnapping that incredibly goes right, is exciting. It is balanced out with the journalistic account of McDougall s entry into the world of the hero. His personal quest to rewild the psyche might seem an awkward fit with war storytelling. But under McDougall s sure hand the combination improbably works. Kind of like kidnapping a German general on an island swarming with Nazi troops. NPR Books
Natural Born Heroes provides a blueprint of the essential ideas of how to move, what to eat, and the spirit in which to approach our everyday lives. I connected with this book on a primal, emotional, and intellectual level, and have been profoundly inspired by McDougall s work. Laird Hamilton
Fascinating. . . . Show[s] that heroism not only can be taught it can be mastered. New York Post
A fast-paced, enlightening tale of everyday heroes. . . . A victory lap for McDougall. Deseret News (Salt Lake City)
McDougall traveled to Crete to examine the physical and mental capacity of Greek war heroes [and] studied natural movement, endurance, and nutrition to understand how regular people are capable of extraordinary athletic feats. . . . We can all adapt the tools of the athletes featured in McDougall s new book. Real Simple
McDougall sets his rediscovery of fitness concepts against the backdrop of a great tale of espionage, kidnapping, and harrowing escapes. . . . The fascinating story provides anecdotal proof for the theories and, perhaps, the encouragement you need to try them in your life. Women s Running
A heady confection that encompasses, among other subjects, military history, archaeology, Greek mythology, neat ways to kill a man and ideas on health and fitness that might just change your life. . . . [McDougall] constructs a fascinating edifice of ideas . . . and eventually finds a modern-day hero of his own. But the pleasures of the book are as much to do with the fascinating panoply of characters, war heroes all, British, Commonwealth and Cretan, whose exploits contributed so much to Hitler's downfall. The Independent (London)
In the thoroughly absorbing Natural Born Heroes, which tracks heroism from the times of Zeus and Odysseus to the World War II bravery of a motley crew of fighters, Christopher McDougall makes it clear that . . . heroes, both ancient and modern, are not somehow supernaturally endowed after all. Indeed, they may come by their skills quite naturally. . . . His extensive knowledge of fitness training, nutrition and physiology winds artfully around a tale of superhuman resistance during the Nazi occupation of the Greek island of Crete. . . . [McDougall] solves this mystery with a witty eye for every detail, inspiring his own captive audience along the way. BookPage
Compelling . . . engaging . . . provocative . . . with inquiries into the nature of heroism. . . . True heroism, as the ancients understood, isn t about strength or boldness or even courage. It s about compassion. Kirkus Reviews
Riveting. . . . A well-done recounting of a truly heroic episode of WWII. . . . In absorbing detail, McDougall describes how . . . ordinary men who were far from stereotypically tough, battle-hardened warriors . . . trekked across tortuous mountain terrain while avoiding a massive German dragnet.. Booklist
Christopher McDougall is the author of Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. He began his career as an overseas correspondent for the Associated Press, covering wars in Rwanda and Angola. He now lives and writes (and runs, swims, climbs, and bear-crawls) among the Amish farms around his home in rural Pennsylvania.
Christopher McDougall is available for select speaking engagements. To inquire about a possible appearance, please contact Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau at or visit (...)