Natural Born Heroes, Chris McDougall – a book review

A few years ago author, Christopher McDougall wrote a book about a secretive tribe who basically showed us all that as a race, humans are indeed Born To Run. It was particularly interesting that this tribe happened to run in sandals made from tires and somehow whole swathes of runners decided that this ‘barefoot’ idea was a good one.
Now, McDougall returns with another book highlighting our predisposition for movement. This time, the setting is historical;  on the island of Crete, he is hunting the story of an incredible wartime escapade.

In honesty, it’s hard to go into too much detail without giving away the story. The book offers a wonderful insight into this element of the second world war, and I certainly had no idea about how much of a linchpin the tiny island proved to be in the war effort. McDougall certainly paints a wonderful picture of the heroic feats, helped in no small part by his own attempt to follow in the footsteps of Churchill’s band of merry men like Xan Fielding and Patrick Leigh Fermor.

The underlying idea of the book is that the Cretans had discovered the secret of the fascia in the body and its ability to move the body better than muscle alone ever could. Ultimately they had re-discovered what we now think of as parkour; natural movement that we seem to have forgotten about since the time of the Ancient Greeks.

McDougall has not really written a running book this time. Instead this is more of a historical tale underpinned by a reminder that natural movement can enable us to do more than we likely believe is possible. I am not sure it is going to spark the same revolution that his former book did, but in Natural Born Heroes McDougall spins a fascinating tale, and I would highly recommend it.

I have been inspired to add some different workouts to my week that will encourage more movement than the simple act of running. Read this book, I am confident you won’t be disappointed.


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