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Monday, September 12, 2016

{Book Review} Running Man by Charlie Engle

Running Man
by Charlie Engle
Publisher: Scribner
Release: September 13th 2016
Genre: Nonfiction- Memoir: Running
How I got it: Received a free copy from NetGalley

A compulsively readable, remarkably candid memoir from world class ultra-marathon runner Charlie Engle chronicling his globe-spanning races, his record-breaking run across the Sahara Desert, and how running helped him overcome drug addiction…and an unjust stint in federal prison.

After a decade-long addiction to crack cocaine and alcohol, Charlie Engle hit bottom with a near-fatal six-day binge that ended in a hail of bullets. As Engle got sober, he turned to running, which became his lifeline, his pastime, and his salvation. He began with marathons, and when marathons weren’t far enough, he began to take on ultramarathons, races that went for thirty-five, fifty, and sometimes hundreds of miles, traveling to some of the most unforgiving places on earth to race. The Matt Damon-produced documentary, Running the Sahara, followed Engle as he lead a team on a harrowing, record breaking 4,500-mile run across the Sahara Desert, which helped raise millions of dollars for charity.

Charlie’s growing notoriety led to an investigation and a subsequent unjust conviction for mortgage fraud. Engle would spend sixteen months in federal prison in Beckley, West Virginia. While in jail, he pounded the small prison track, running endlessly in circles. Soon his fellow inmates were joining him, struggling to keep their spirits up in dehumanizing circumstances.

In Running Man, Charlie Engle tells the gripping, surprising, funny, emotional, and inspiring story of his life, detailing his setbacks and struggles—from coping with addiction to serving time in prison—and how he blazed a path to freedom by putting one foot in front of the other. This is a propulsive, raw, and triumphant story about finding the threshold of human endurance, and transcending it.

Review: Mr. Engle's story is motivating and moving, yet I couldn't pity him. What I got from this book is that Mr Engle is a selfish, arrogant man. Although what I have learned from reading multiple running memoirs running is a selfish endeavor. The problem I have is Mr Engle literally trades one set of addictions for another and freely admits it. Albeit one addiction is much healthier than the other, and probably won't get him shot at. But from what the book tells us, he never really faces his addiction problem and I didn't find that inspiring.
I did find the tales of his different races motivating. Yet I felt bad for his family. I found his conviction unjust, but I found myself unable to feel bad for him. Again I was sad for his family, and his children. My sympathy went to them, not him.
His story of running across the Sahara was what drove home most of my impressions of Mr Engle.
Perhaps I'm being to hard on Mr Engle, and he's one of the nicest people on the planet, but I can only go by what's in this book. From the book I get the impression that he is what I have stated above.
The book itself is well written and executed in a way that keeps you reading. Despite how I felt about Mr Engle I found his story fascinating.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a really fascinating story! I think I'll add it to my to-read list. Interesting take away on the author, too. Great review. Thanks for linking up!


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