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Natural Born Heroes

How a Daring Band of Misfits Mastered the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


Author of the phenomenal national best seller, Born to Run, Christopher McDougall now travels to the Mediterranean where he discovers that the secrets of ancient Greek heroes are still alive and well on the island of Crete and in the muscles and minds of fitness enthusiasts everywhere.

While researching Born to Run, Chris McDougall encountered the story of Pheidippides, the legendary ancient Greek "all-day runner." Later, when McDougall met a dedicated amateur historian, he saw a connection to one of the most fascinating mysteries of World War II: How did a small band of Resistance fighters surrounded by German troops kidnap a top German general? What he discovered is that ancestral techniques for extraordinary endurance, natural movement, and nutrition allowed ancient Greek soldiers and Cretan shepherds to race across mountains on all-night missions. Inspired by their heroic acts, McDougall sets off to discover the lost art of the hero, both throughout history and across the world. Just as Born to Runinspired casual runners to get off the treadmill, out of their shoes, and into nature, Natural-Born Heroes will inspire casual athletes to leave the gym and take their fitness to nature doing cross-training, mud runs, parkour and free-running to bound--and climb, swim, skip, wade, and jump--their way to heroic feats.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 02, 2015 – Journalist McDougall (Born to Run) travels to the Greek island of Crete to serve up a mixture of mythic heroics and still-applicable fitness techniques. There, with amateur historian Chris White's help, he explores how, in 1944, Greek partisans and British commandos abducted Nazi Gen. Heinrich Kreipe. Further delving into the Greek resistance, McDougall offers astonishing stories about shepherds turned partisans, George "the Clown" Psychoundakis, known to run over 50 miles nightly with a 60-pound pack on his back and on a diet of nothing but boiled hay, and Costi Paterakis, who ran cross-country to shoot, from a quarter mile away, a German commander about to order a massacre. He also documents contemporary heroes like the Pennsylvania elementary school principal who singlehandedly saved her school from a machete-wielding stranger. Throughout, McDougall pauses to consider what exactly makes a hero a hero, examining history, anatomy, physiology, and fitness. This book reads as a page-turning historical account, with fitness techniques and instruction embedded throughout. Readers, regardless of their fitness levels, should come to the end feeling both inspired and a little bit winded.

Customer Reviews

Wow, just wow!

I rushed into this book after reading three other ultra-athlete type books and I expected this to be much the same (which is what I love). I was initially a little disappointed with the drawn out discussion on the war since I am definitely not a war buff, but then I got it. In learning about the war, I was gaining an appreciation for the super-athletes who had to use mind & body to defeat the enemy. I love all the twists and turns in this book. I came away with so much knowledge of the German invasion of Greece, of the true heart of the Greek people, and also a true appreciation for the level of fitness and heroics involved for those living/fighting on the ground. Keep writing Chris!

Natural Born Heroes is just superb history

A fascinating story of World War II daring on the island of Crete. A little known story of how a rag tag group of British SOE operatives kidnap a German general and, after an extraordinary journey over the mountainous Cretan countryside, are able to extricate him off the island.


This book has everything, it's a guide for your health and a adventurous recounting that may leave you a bit teary eyed. I can't describe how eye opening yet fulfilling this book is, it moves between times so pleasantly that I had a real sense of nostalgia while reading and simultaneously a yearning to utilize my newly acquired knowledge learned through its pages. I can't recommend this book enough.

Natural Born Heroes
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Health & Fitness
  • Published: Apr 14, 2015
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 352 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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