Interviews and Reviews

Natural Born Heroes Book Review

A scream stirs you awake. It’s the middle of the night and you open your window to find the neighboring apartment building ablaze. People are in trouble. They need you.

Kids need to be carried down the fire escape. A grandmother needs help exiting the building.

What do you do?

Rush to the rescue, of course.

After all, isn’t that what your years of physical training were for? The climbing, the squatting, the lifting: Everything was a preparation for the freak chance that one day you may need to play the hero.

Christopher McDougall’s newest book, Natural Born Heroes, is 324-page ode to our yearning for physical preparedness. Based around the tale of how a small band of fighters on the island of Crete subverted their Nazi invaders, the book explores the many ways people hone themselves into fit and useful humans.

While it isn’t a parkour book per se, you will be pleased to know that he uncovers the origins of our sport, from Georges Hébert’s Méthode Naturalle, all the way to David Belle and the Yamakasi. He even explores the streets of London while attending a meet-up with Parkour Generations students.

His passion for human movement is infectious. After a few pages in, you’ll be chasing him across the globe, training Mov Nat in Brazil, and tomahawk throwing outside of Philadelphia.

Few authors write about learning to use your body so well. From the subtleties of body position during Wing Chun Kung Fu, to the ideal pacing for ultra-endurance running, McDougall captures our deep fascination with how to become better athletes.

Aside from being an adventure tale, it is chock-full of anecdotes about past presidents, special agents, and human physiology.

The book is hard to put down, but as soon as you do, you’ll be running out the door to start your own hero training. That’s a guarantee.

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