A Global History

320pp 15 ILLUS 2009 LIST PRICE: £19.95 E295



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This is an admirable and humorous attempt to cover the running phenomenon, not merely in its cultural and historical sweep but also in its philosophy. Gotaas brings us many unusual and curious stories of great runners from history. Among the myriad characters are King Shulgi of Mesopotamia, who four millennia ago boasted of his ability to maintain high speeds over long distances, and once claimed to have run from Nippur to Ur, a distance of not less than 160 kilometres. In ancient Egypt the pharaoh had to run to prove his vitality and to hold on to power; Norwegian Vikings exercised by running races against animals; Buddhist monks of Mount Hiei run marathons; and then there are the little-known naked runs, whore runs, backward runs, the Incas' ingenious infrastructure of professional runners and the running culture of Native Americans.