The Kings Of Distance

Peter Lovesey - The Kings Of Distance

World Sports Book of the Year, 1968

Foreword by Harold M Abrahams

This, my first book, grew out of my strong interest in the history of athletics, It followed the careers of five great distance runners – Deerfoot, W.G.George, Alf Shrubb, Paavo Nurmi and Emil Zatopek – who competed at intervals of about twenty years from the 1860s to the 1960s. Little had been written about the first three, and Deerfoot was practically unknown, in spite of having been a sensation in his time. Each athlete was given a chapter and there were more chapters comparing them and the conditions in which they trained and competed. The foreword was written by Harold Abrahams, the Olympic champion later immortalised in Chariots of Fire.

UK Publisher: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1968
US Publisher, as FIVE KINGS OF DISTANCE: St Martin’s Press, 1981

“Quite the finest piece of research into the history of athletics to appear for some time.”
World Sports, in naming it Sports Book of the Year

“It is a simply magnificent effort, certainly one of the most absorbing and revealing books on the subject of athletics that I have read.”
Athletics Weekly

“The descriptions of the George-Cummings duels are the best ever written …Brilliant writing from a brilliant work.”
Tom McNab, The Athletics Coach

“One of the most fascinating and informative books I have ever read on the history of athletics … Lovesey’s chapter on Deerfoot, certainly the least known of this quintet, is a masterpiece of reconstruction.”
David Kemsley, World Sports

“Peter Lovesey has gained a reputation as being the most outstanding writer on athletics history in the world … This is the first athletics history book that has brought alive the periods during which the five were active. I might also suggest that this is, in fact, the first real history book yet produced about athletes.”
Charles Elliott, Arena