Joseph Copeli's Reviews > King of the Road: The Autobiography of an Israeli Scientist and a World Record-Holding Race Walker

King of the Road by Shaul Ladany
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's review
Aug 05, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: arc

[This review also appears on, a site for review and discussion of creative works.]

Shaul Ladany was certainly an inspiring man, having survived the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp to become a record-holding race walker and distinguished industrial engineer.

My interest in the book was Ladany's experience during World War II and the Holocaust, but only a small portion of the book was devoted to this (less than half a chapter). The main focus of the book is on the sport of race walking.

I couldn't muster the interest to do more than skim and flip through the book, but that's just my personal preference; I'm not very interested in sports and I was expecting more about the author's Holocaust experience. The tone of the writing is conversational, like someone relating a story to a friend. It's definitely serviceable for the content. For someone interested in race walking, and sports competition in general, I'm sure this book would be an enjoyable read.

I should add that the section about the massacre of Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich was fascinating. Ladany makes it a point to correct some details that had been previously reported about his escape. Mainly, he describes following the lead of other Israeli athletes and escaping through the back door of his hotel room (no jumping off a second floor balcony, as most reports, including Wikipedia, state). Of additional interest are his thoughts on why the terrorists didn't take his roommates and himself hostage (there were two Israeli marksmen among them), his opinion of the German military of the '70s (inept and clumsy, a far cry from the German military of the last World War), his anger at the Israeli government for recalling their athletes home, the mistaken reports of his death in the massacre and his lawsuit against an author who fabricated details of the events of that tragic night. I wasn't at all familiar with this incident and Ladany's report was as good as any to learn about it.

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