Book Review: “Duel in the Sun” by John Brant

Posted by Filed Under: Book Reviews, Books, Gift Ideas for Runners, Reviews

book review duel in the sunThis book chronicles the epic battle between Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley during the 1982 Boston Marathon. It takes you step by step through each runner’s preparation for the race, the race itself, and life for both athletes after this dynamic moment in time. This is not, however, where the book ends—the book takes you far past those two hours in 1982. This book shows you how this one race, this one moment in time, shaped and changed the lives of both the athletes involved.

121440.jpgWriting a book where everyone knows the outcome before it starts must be a daunting task. How does an author build suspense and a compelling storyline when most of the people interested in reading the book know the outcome before it even starts? In “Duel in the Sun,” John Brant crafts three separate stories—Dick, Alberto, and their race—and then intertwines them back together to show how this one event joined both athletes for life.

Within the short 195 pages, the reader is transported from the race to the lives of the runners—both pre- and post-race—and back again. You get a taste of pre-Castro Cuba, growing up with a alcoholic father, finding religious freedom, the depths of drug addiction, and the misery of depression. This book clearly shows that a marathon will take you much further than 26.2 miles and can cost far more than the entry fee.

Bottom line, this book delivers a strong running story balanced by the human side of two elite athletes. I think often, as a spectator, it is easy to forgot that the elite athletes that we look upon with awe and wonder are really just like us. They are human and they face the same problems we do. “Duel in the Sun” makes it clear that both Dick and Alberto were nothing more nor less than human. Brant works hard to show all the different facets that make up who these stars were in 1982 and who they have become today.

I highly recommend this book. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
Buy Duel in the Sun at Amazon

  1. Mark Iocchelli on September 26th at 10:03 am

    Terrific review, Aaron. Thanks for submitting your article!

  2. DREW on September 26th at 4:33 pm

    I was able to hear Dick Beardsley talk at the Napa Valley Marathon (where he holds the course record) this past year. The book was just being released. My biggest regret is that I didn’t buy it at the expo and get his signature (something he said he would be glad to do for anyone). I’ve since read the book and enjoyed it immensely for the very “human” quality of the athletes and the way the book is presented.

    BTW, Dick passed around the painter’s cap that he wore that day. He’d given it to some kid after the marathon, and recovered it years later. It was in a plastic bag and crumbling, but I was able to hold it and see the sweat stains from that memorable day.

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