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Summary

When Chris McDougall stumbled across the story of Churchill's 'dirty tricksters', a motley crew of English poets and academics who helped resist the Nazi invasion of Crete, he knew he was on the track of something special.

To beat the odds, the tricksters - starving, aging, outnumbered - tapped in to an ancient style of fitness: the lost art of heroism. They listened to their instincts, replaced calories with stored bodily fat, and used their fascia, the network of tissue which criss-crosses the body, to catapult themselves to superhuman strength and endurance.

Soon McDougall was in the middle of a modern fitness revolution taking place everywhere from Parisian parkour routes to state-of-the-art laboratories and based on the know-how of Shanghai street fighters and Wild West gunslingers.

Just as Born to Run got runners off the treadmill and into nature, Natural Born Heroes will inspire casual athletes to dump the gym memberships for cross-training, mud runs, and free running.

©2015 Christopher McDougall (P)2015 Audible, Ltd

What listeners say about Natural Born Heroes

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Loved Born to Run, didn't love this.

I don't think McDougall is clear on what this story is about.

He has a narrative about resistance fighting during WW2 on Crete which is okay but I only found it compelling in certain phases. Into this narrative he tries to weave (unsuccessfully in my view) themes about the natural capabilities of the human body which have been forgotten in the modern age.

There are some enjoyable sections, I liked the stuff about Parcour, but overall I found it very boring.

12 people found this helpful

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Interesting & Inspirational.

I'm a mid 40's, morbidly obese father to a 3 yr old. I didn't know I was looking to be inspired but that's what this book did. it explains just how easy it is to get active. without paying any fees to anyone or relying on anyone else. I'm 10lbs down in a fortnight, just by changing what I eat & getting involved at the play Park instead of just watching my Son have all the fun. there is way more to this book than that. The stories of people standing up & doing what needs to be done are as gripping as they are inspirational. It's often said, but how often do you actually read (listen to) a book that changes your life for the better?

9 people found this helpful

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  • GD
  • 25-08-15

Fabulous book

A truly magnificent story. Learned a lot, cried a bit and laughed out loud at the amazing relationships and adventures. Thank you for writing this.

9 people found this helpful

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Good listening mash up of war novel and fitness.

Good read, though a bit confused at times... sometimes you'd prefer a war novel and others just a fitness book. Overall pretty good, but does feel like a square peg in a round hole at times.

5 people found this helpful

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Good as a story for inspiration but not for learning

Overall an enjoyable story with many interesting characters who could be inspiring. However, those looking to glean some more instructional information may be disappointed

5 people found this helpful

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Natural reading for all survivors

I have just finished reading ‘Natural Born Heroes’ by Christopher McDougall and it truly put in focus my transition over the last couple of years from obese to normal and how it was achieved so very easily by breaking myself from refined carbohydrate addiction.
Compared to some I was not even that addicted, I hardly ate chocolate and candy, I did not eat sugar in my beverages, but I did like really good bread, along with pasta and potatoes. But I was still a steady 30-40 lbs overweight, even when I tried to reduce calorie intake and take more exercise. All that changed in July 2014, when someone suggested I consider doing Paleo - I say doing, as it is more a way of life than a diet. I did not cut out calories, I ate what I wanted, just no refined carbs and very little unrefined carbs. I was not hungry and did not crave bread and cookies, as long as I did not eat them. The core fat melted away over a period of 3 months and by 6 months I had quite naturally lost 35 lbs. while just taking reasonable exercise. I found I had more energy when I was not taking on carbs and I seemed to just feel great. Over the last year, I more or less maintained my weight, easing in to some calories from Carbs, but I found very quickly that little indulgences like the occasional Pizza had a very negative impact on my body fat, carbs just went straight to waist fat and made me hungry again for more carbs. I realised that the completely unnatural cereal and sugar based ‘nutrition’ we have been fed over the last 30 years was indeed completely false. Eating good quality meat, butter, eggs, milk, fish was actually very healthy and we had been fed lies about good food. Certainly I do not advocate eating factory grown meat fed on corn and concentrates, but real grass fed meat and dairy is exactly what our bodies require, along with plenty of fresh green vegetables, fish and a few seeds and nuts.
When that kind of diet is combined with a normal level of activity, which for me is mostly quick ChiKung exercises in the morning and as much walking I can do, with some running, I feel great. When I lapse to eating carbs for even a couple of days, I feel the way I used to, losing energy and vitality.
I liked ‘Natural Born Heroes’ as it combined ancient and modern Cretan history, Minos to the German occupation, with personal journeys in fitness.
I think the example of Timothy Noakes, the ‘guru’ of carbs for athletes and his regret and transformation away from being a carb guru to being an overweight type 2 Diabetes sufferer, was quite an insight. Noakes now healthy, has now thrown out carbs as being a killer and is now a believer in a healthy low carb lifestyle.
Another really interesting point in the book was made about energy drinks and the scandal surrounding the drink more fluids campaign. You don’t need energy drinks as an athlete, you need a healthy diet and a few sips of water.
We have slain the dragon of cigarette addiction, but have we slain the dragon of the processed carbs addiction?
There is a lot in the book about how the human body is capable of amazing feats of endurance, especially when in a natural low carb condition. It is certainly well worth reading if you want to become an amazing athlete, however, for the average person, who just wants to be healthy and fit and does not want to go to an early, painful and obese grave, it is also recommended reading!

18 people found this helpful

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A good book, but some weird assumptions

I really do enjoy these books, there is a lot to be taken from the dietary information, but some of the assumptions made are clearly bull and can't be substantiated.

3 people found this helpful

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Amazing

After reading Born to Run I was worried where this story would lead, however it surpassed even that great book.

2 people found this helpful

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Awesome!

Awesome book! I want to go to Crete! great lifestyle tips too. next book Chris. .....

2 people found this helpful

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Great follow on to born to run.

As with any of Mcdougals books a ripping yarn. Not as gripping as born to run but still insightful and drawing on loads of sources. If you like born to run then you'll like this.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Chandan Chawla
  • 19-07-16

Confused !

What would have made Natural Born Heroes better?

I came from Born to Run to this and was as if in a maze . The author didnt know as if what he was writing about .

What was most disappointing about Christopher McDougall’s story?

it had no momentum

1 person found this helpful

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  • Graeme
  • 13-08-20

Excellent book weirdo narrator

Great fun to listen to for the most part but the voice acting is incredibly distracting and irritating at times. Especially when he does women’s and kids voices or puts on a pseudo British accent as though he reading fiction. It’s down right horrible and ruins an otherwise excellent time listening. It’s all the more unbearable because he is actually reasonable (certainly not good) for the most part. He should stick to novels. McDougall is such a good writer that I feel like a lot of the coolness is lost in the audio version anyway. Get the kindle version or one made of paper for the best experience from this writer.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-06-19

A fantastic book!

This book is highly recommended by Laird Hamilton, the legendary Hawaiian Big wave surfer and peak performance devotee. He described it as ‘Biblical’ in the impact it had on him. I highly agree, the author deftly weaves ancient history, World War II resistance heroism with modern parkour, functional fitness and diet cutting edge science. Highly entertaining and full of usable inspiration.

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  • Moose in NZ
  • 24-08-17

outstanding

More than a war story of epic proportions, it is a blueprint for a healthy, vibrant and exciting life. were I able to ensure that the very best among my friends and military comrades read just one book - this would be it.