Ye Olde Natural Philosophy Discussion Group

Reviews and comments on
Christopher McDougall:
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and
the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

      This book was a bit of a departure for our group since we most often focus on more hard-core science books. But we all enjoyed reading it.

      Kirby called this book a “qualified success”, but gave it our highest rating, a 10. It’s a great read, he said, and he really liked it. He added that the author writes very well. Kirby ran a lot as a kid, but in recent years has had frequent injuries when attempting it. This book led him to purchase a pair of flat aquatic shoes (meant for use around swimming pools), and to try running in them. This has worked out well and he’s had no more Achilles tendon problems.

      Scott’s another ex-jogger who had to give it up because of running injuries. He plans to try Kirby’s aquatic shoe idea too, if he can find a pair that fits him. Scott enjoyed reading the book, but complained that there was not as much real science in it as he would prefer. One thing he did especially like, though, was the description of the “endurance hunting” as carried out by the San peoples (“Bushmen”) in the Kalahari Desert. It is actually possible for human beings to run down very fleet wild animals such as antelope, because—though they are much slower over a short distance—they have the stamina to keep running at a slower pace for many hours at a time.

      Kevin, due to the presures of all the computer classes he is taking was only half-way through the book at the time of the book club meeting. He also didn’t view it as a science book. But he liked the material about the Tarahumara Indians and would have liked to learn more about their culture. He agreed that the writing was easy and entertaining.

      John said that for him it was a schizophrenic book. The science part—promoting bare-foot or flat-shoe running—he considers pretty elegant, and plans to give it a try. “Most of the book is not science, but there is still some interesting science in it.” John felt there was a “running groupie” aspect to the book, but nevertheless enjoyed reading it.

      Ron also gave the book a 10, and said that he liked it even better than Kirby! He remarked that the only thing he didn’t like about it was the stuff about the two spoiled young runners, Billy and Jenn. (Others also thought they were grossly immature.)

      Barbara really enjoyed the book, and thought that it made the subject of running poetic! She especially liked the material on the native Tarahumara people, and on the subject of running as a way of life.

      Rich liked the book a lot too. He thought the people in the book were very colorful characters, and found the writing about the Tarahumaras very interesting.

      Rosie was annoyed by the infantile bar scenes and drunken characters in the first part of the book. But the writing was good and so she kept reading. The last part of the book she liked much better. She didn’t expect much science in this book, and was actually pleasantly surprised to find more than she thought there would be.

      Our group gave this book a collective rating of 8.1 on a scale of 0 to 10. That’s an excellent rating from our hard-to-please bunch!

Return to our complete list of books.

Return to our Science Group home page.