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The First Four Minutes

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  319 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Roger Bannister's own account of becoming the became the first man to run a mile in under four minutes - a feat which established him as one of the most famous sportsmen in history.
Published January 1st 1980 by Sutton Publishing Ltd
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stunning athlete, stunning writer.
Apr 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading "The Perfect Mile", I wanted to get Roger Bannister's perspective, and read this book also.

I enjoyed this book immensely. Perhaps I enjoyed this book more than some of the other reviewers because I am a runner, and thus it had a lot of meaning for me. Here are a few things that I quoted to my extended family in a letter when I had only read half the book.

“As a neurologist, I now understand more about such sources of pleasure and pain and the strange, some say mystical experiences
Donlon McGovern
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2019
When you think that Bannister was in his 20s when he wrote this (and the fact he ran a 3:59 mile), it makes it even a more remarkable book. Narrative flows and also transports reader back to austerity England and a much simpler time in athletics. So well written that I immediately went to library and checked out "The Perfect Mile."
Dec 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is considered one of the top five greatest books ever written about running. I would have to say, I also felt it was excellent!

It’s the autobiography of the first man to break the four minute mile. Bannister is very flowery in his writing style (typical old-style British), but he also captures his sheer joy in and love of running. It’s a very fast read because you get caught up in the emotion of the effort. I found it interesting that the climax of the book is not his breaking the
Not nearly as interesting as I hoped it would be.
Mark Fallon
Nov 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book on running that I’ve read.

In 1954, at the age of 25, Roger Bannister became the first person to break the four-minute barrier for the mile, with a recorded time of 3:59.4. A little over a year later, Bannister retired from racing, and wrote a book entitled, "The First Four Minutes". This 2004 edition has been updated with new material in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Bannister’s feat.

Bannister was one of the last great amateur champions. No special diet or training
May 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Japanese author Murakami, on his book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, explicitly avoided sounding dogmatic as he recounted his life as a marathon runner, his passion for the sports and his love of running.

Murakami was merely a runner, not an advocate after all, talking about running, recounting it, writing about it. But not Bannister.

Bannister of course was the ultimate idol of the sports. When he wrote, as much as advocated, "We run, not because we think it is doing us good but
Jun 22, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was pretty disappointed with The Four-Minute Mile. While it served as an interesting look into amateurism through the eyes of one of its strongest supporters, the book really failed at getting the reader to relate to Bannister. It seemed to have almost an over-emphasis on telling stories about racing and a huge under-emphasis of detailing training. The races described were fairly detailed, yet somehow their telling failed to excite me.

This particular 50th anniversay edition also includes a new
Koji Kawano
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About 58 years ago, on May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister of England broke the four-minute barrier for a Mile race for the first time in history. I read The Perfect Mile that detailed how the stage for this athletics breakthrough was set up among Bannister, John Landy of Australia and Wes Santee of the United States. In his memoir, The Fout-Minute Mile, Roger Bannister himself tells how such great milestone was achieved. This is not his training log or a ‘how to run a strong Mile race’ text book. In ...more
Jeremy Costello
Aug 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book, the autobiography of the first man to run a sub-four minute mile, Sir Roger Bannister, is interesting and inspiring. At times, it gets a little dry, as Bannister talks about races and times for too long. But throughout the book, and especially when he details his successful attempt at breaking the four minute mile, and then his duel with fellow sub four minute miler John Landy at the Empire games, he brings great insight to about the truths of running: why run? what do we get out of ...more
Apr 12, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography, sports
There are not many books that a skinny and mediocre high school cross country runner could read for inspiration, this is the only one that I can recall. Bannister ran the first sub four minute mile while he was a medical student in Oxford. Dry prose but did I mention he ran the mile in less than four minutes? Imagine chariots of fire without the poetry.

Roger went on to become a distinquished doctor and wrote medical textbooks showing that he was more than a athlete.
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Bannister's tale is inspiring to people in all walks of life - not just runners. It was a hard read to get through at times (sometimes a little dry), but in the end I feel a little more inspired to be more reflective in those things that I pursue and want to succeed in.
A matter-of-fact read about Sir Bannister's quest to run a 4 minute mile, complete with his underlying theories on sport. Interesting to hear about the extended process behind his famous run, though not especially entertaining.
Dec 28, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every student of the sport should know this history. You have to wonder what Bannister could have done had he been able to train and perform in a modern arena. Running on cinders- incredible!
May 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant! A fascinating insight into when elite running was still an amatuer sport.
Aug 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Very revealing of a life style, sporting attutude and culture that sadly no longer exists. Beautifully written. I have the original first edition from my Dad who was a fan.
David Barney
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful overview of Roger Bannister's accomplishment of running under 4 minutes.
Interesting hearing Bannister's story in his word. Probably wouldn't read it again though.
Jan 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting perspective on the value of sport in a post-WWII context, some good insights into the mind of the elite runner.
Jul 13, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No
A bit dull at times, not fast enough (the book) to be inspiring..
Mike Dunn
Feb 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: running
This is a classic first-person account of the path to the historic first four-minute mile. Highly recommend.
Rob Westfall
More January running motivation, but I ended up loving his understated writing style. One reviewer said he writes as gracefully as he runs - I'll go along with that.
JJ Hen
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Aug 03, 2014
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Annette Bauer
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Jan 23, 2013
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Jun 06, 2018
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Feb 07, 2018
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Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister, CBE is an English former athlete best known as the first man in history to run the mile in less than 4 minutes. Bannister became a distinguished neurologist and Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, before retiring in 2001.