Hard one to rate, particularly since I’ve soured on author’s previous book Born To Run and this has the same breathless style. I found it hard to believe much of the claimed research, there is obvious selection and survivor bias, and the pacing is really weird. It’s a history of the Cretian resistance in WWII, somewhat incoherently intertwined with interludes about everything from parkour to fat-adapted diets. I naturally stopped reading half way through and forgot about it, only to come back to finish it with some effort on a recent plane journey.

So, base score: two stars.

However. However!

It did have some good things to say about heroism. And despite myself, I couldn’t help but get excited about the idea of effortlessly bounding through the Cretian mountains in a competition-less utopia. So reluctantly giving it a bonus star.

The art of the hero wasn’t about being brave; it was about being so competent that bravery wasn’t an issue. You weren’t supposed to go down for a good cause; the goal was to figure out a way not to go down at all.

They understood the difference between heroism and impulse, and they devised an easy, two-step test for telling them apart: Would you do it again? And could you?

Cover image for Natural Born Heroes