Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'


Forum devoted to track & field items of an historical nature.

Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby MJD » Wed Apr 14, 2004 2:32 am

Aréte grants me the conscious IDEAL of perfection, so therefore, I do
>not suck if I believe I am perfect.

Several Greek philosophers are now rolling around in their graves. Keep posting. It's funny. Sorry steve.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby kuha » Wed Apr 14, 2004 2:39 am

tandfman: I believe that we're in full agreement. Part of the reason I posted the original "review" was to try to highlight both what was good, and what was less good, in this book. This is, I believe, "constructive criticism" that will be useful both to the publisher (if a second edition is ever contemplated) and to other writers/researchers. Other views are of course possible, and I welcome them all. It's only by this kind of PUBLIC discussion that we can hope to reinforce basic standards of quality. On the contrary, the worst thing we can do is either issue blanket condemnations of flawed projects, or to accept uncritically anything written on the subject. Both these approaches are unproductive. I'm idealistic enough to think that track history is REAL HISTORY and should be treated with all the professional care and precision we'd expect from any other serious history book.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby kuha » Wed Apr 14, 2004 2:42 am

MJD: Yes, I'm quite sure that Plato, Aristotle, and every one of the Pre-Socratics is guzzling hemlock at this very moment.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby tandfman » Wed Apr 14, 2004 2:42 am

>tandfman: I believe that we're in full agreement<

Yes, I think we are.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby MJD » Wed Apr 14, 2004 2:48 am

It's only by this kind of PUBLIC discussion
>that we can hope to reinforce basic standards of quality.

Never surrender. One of my brothers and I run several times a week with a fellow that doesn't have the best english skills and we are correcting him all the time and he is actually learning-and it is all in fun but not really. It's a habit that we picked up from our dad who was/is an educator. He used to send our report cards back to the teachers with corrections to the spelling and grammar. THAT used to really ingratiate us with them.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby Jnathletics » Wed Apr 14, 2004 4:57 am

Sorry, miss read you review. I thought you meant the date was listed as 1/1 in the book not January 1. But it would be easy to mix up 1/1 with 7/1. I just didn't see the american/european date error as you implied.

My point is this; was the book written as a historical account or as a story? If it was a historical account you have merit, but if it was written as a story I don't see the harm in a few missed facts.

I go back to the movie "The First Olympics"; the mile was an exciting race in the movie. So, close the spectators didn't know who won and the judges had to confer. In the results the Aussie won by a second. Now how could the judges and spectators not know who won with that margin of victory? The error or misconception added to the suspense of the story. I can point out other events that were erroneous but had a context or reason for editing.

Why is baseball america's past time? Why has boxing lost it's luster? I believe it is writers. TFN does an excellent job of writing for the technical fan, results are accurate, description of events are relivant, but it does not inspire the fans. Before TV writers made legends out of one hit wonders, now it seems to be just the facts. TF needs more books which may bring interest from the nontechnical fan. My wife read a review of the book and is actually interested in it, and I'm sure that the stats in it will just be unimportant info.

Sorry, I go to text books, result web sites and almanacs if I want factual info. I read stories to be entertained.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby girble_teeth » Wed Apr 14, 2004 5:31 am

>It's only by this kind of PUBLIC discussion
>that we can hope to reinforce
>basic standards of quality.

Never surrender. One of my brothers and I run
>several times a week with a fellow that doesn't have the best english skills..


You need to re think your standards of PUBLIC discussion. This is an open forum, you are debating topics with rapist in jails, 10 year olds, people with english as a second or third language... Finding glee with spelling errors when people are talking about running and throwing are pretty sick human qualities.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby Asterix » Wed Apr 14, 2004 5:36 am

>This is an open forum, you are debating topics with rapist in
>jails, 10 year olds, people with english as a second or third language...

I don't believe any of the recent board whipping posts have claimed to be ESL'ers. Now, that doesn't rule out 10 year olds or rapists in jail (as opposed to rapists not in jail?)
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby Richard Gere » Wed Apr 14, 2004 5:46 am

<<posted by: girble_teeth>

You could at least spell gerbil right!
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby tandfman » Wed Apr 14, 2004 5:55 am

>>This is an open forum, you are debating topics with rapist in jails, 10 year olds, people with english as a second or third language...<<

I don't believe any of the recent board whipping posts have claimed to be ESL'ers. Now, that
doesn't rule out 10 year olds or rapists in jail (as opposed to rapists not in jail?)<<


No, Asterix, you miss the point. This guy referred to "rapist in jails." One rapist, multiple jails. Apparently, where he lives, there's only one rapist and they move him around from jail to jail so the jails without a rapist of their own won't feel deprived.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby Asterix » Wed Apr 14, 2004 6:01 am

No, Asterix, you miss the point. This guy referred to
>"rapist in jails." One rapist, multiple jails. Apparently, where he lives,
>there's only one rapist and they move him around from jail to jail so the jails
>without a rapist of their own won't feel deprived.

My bad. I thought we were told not to quibble about spelling and figure out what people meant to write, not go by what they actually wrote.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby MJD » Wed Apr 14, 2004 6:03 am

>MJD: Yes, I'm quite sure that Plato, Aristotle, and every one of the
>Pre-Socratics is guzzling hemlock at this very moment.

Actually, I tried to get an actual Greek scholar to weigh in here a la Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall but he wisely wouldn't lower himself to such a level and said something like a little bit of knowledge is very dangerous.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby EPelle » Wed Apr 14, 2004 7:43 am

Kuha,

Do you know if this book is sold internationally?
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby kuha » Wed Apr 14, 2004 7:50 am

Epelle: I would certainly think that this book will get (or is already getting) international distribution. It's available on amazon.com (at a nice discount), but I haven't checked amazonuk, for example...
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby tandfman » Wed Apr 14, 2004 7:51 am

I got mine through amazon.com. I don't know if they ship internationally, but I think they do.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby EPelle » Wed Apr 14, 2004 7:56 am

Thanks both of you for the Amazon links... I will check it out and see if I can purchase a copy here in Scandinavia. Your review, Kuha, is excellent, and is prompting me to search all over for a copy!
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby MJD » Wed Apr 14, 2004 7:59 am

>Kuha,

>Do you know if this book is sold internationally?

Yes, if Canada is considered international. Just got it online from Indigo. I'm told that it is available in the bricks and mortar outfits too.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby kuha » Wed Apr 14, 2004 8:01 am

EPelle: Thanks for your good words. A thought: I'd love to see an in-depth study (in English, sorry!) of Haegg and Anderson and their era...any interest in spending a few years of your life researching and writing? It's amazing that they are both still alive!
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby EPelle » Wed Apr 14, 2004 8:03 am

Not a bad thought! Everyone here in Sweden speaks English, so I am sure that something can be arranged! Plus, Gary - or Ben - speaks Swedish, so that might be a great TFN future inside story!

I will see what leads I can follow!
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby kuha » Wed Apr 14, 2004 8:06 am

Seriously, this could be a lively story and a very important contribution to athletics history. I'll be happy to lend whatever moral support I can! The next time I'm in Stockholm, I'll stop by to see how work is progressing!! %-)
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby EPelle » Wed Apr 14, 2004 8:10 am

Ja visst!
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby MJD » Wed Apr 14, 2004 8:18 am

>Plus, Gary - or Ben - speaks Swedish,

Just totally based on the last names-Hill and Hall vs Lindstrom, I would have guessed that you have the wrong person speaking Swedish.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby EPelle » Wed Apr 14, 2004 8:23 am

There are five Gunder Häggs listed in our white pages. I sent a letter to our national track and field board to see if there is a way in there. Will keep you posted.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby bhall » Wed Apr 14, 2004 8:23 am

Keep guessing... only a couple more staff members and you'll get the one who does speak Swedish.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby EPelle » Wed Apr 14, 2004 8:25 am

Yes, it was Dan Lilot...

Ta det i häcken, HV-71. Jävla Smålänningar.

Jag skojar bara, förstås.

That was the key!
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby hijumpsteve » Wed Apr 14, 2004 8:27 am

I just bought it from amazon.com. I had never dealt with them before, it was easy. $ 16 and change plus $ 3 and change for shipping.

I like all others grind my teeth every time I see errors in T&F books and articles. And what scares me, as well as many of you, is that if I always see errors in the stuff I know the best, I can only conclude that there are errors EVERYWHERE that I do not detect. Just shows that when I writer writes a book on a specialty area, the editors that have even less knowledge than the writer in that area are useless on cleaning up factual errors. Like when I mentioned that Bob Kerrey talked of Nebraska classmate Charlie "Green"... no editor in the world would know that was wrong.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby tandfman » Wed Apr 14, 2004 9:40 am

>I just bought it from amazon.com. I had never dealt with them before, it was easy. $ 16 and change plus $ 3 and change for shipping.<

If you buy more than I think it's $25 worth of most items, and are willing to accept a slightly slower deliver schedule, Amazon will waive the shipping charge. Bear in mind that they sell CD's and DVD's and other merchandise as well as books. I've never found it a problem getting to the minimum for no shipping charge, even when I'm in there primarily to buy a single item. There's always something else I can be happy buying. It's like being in a big store with a $3 coupon that's good only if you buy at least $25 worth of stuff. I can't remember the last time I paid the Amazon shipping charge.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby Neal Bascomb » Wed Apr 14, 2004 10:19 am

A note from the author of THE PERFECT MILE in regard to messages posted on this board.

Thank you very much for the kind words--and criticisms--about my book. I always appreciate close readers, particularly when they spot errors that have crept into the published edition, despite my arduous attempts to avoid them.

My goal in writing this book was not only to enthrall and entertain readers (track aficionados and lay people alike), but also to add to the historical record about this great sporting achievement. In this respect, I have included a very detailed endnote section at the back of the book, indicating that my narrative was drawn from historical sources or contemporary author interviews. Nobody is perfect, however, even perfect milers, and it pains me that some mistakes have been made, whether from sourcing an incorrect source or by my own hand. Please know that I will make sure to notify my publisher of these errors to be corrected in the paperback edition.

Regardless of my faults, I hope that most readers will find that in THE PERFECT MILE I have captured the essence (and great drama) of this pivotal moment in track and field history and that they will recommend it to their friends.

I look forward to reading more of your comments in the future.

Neal Bascomb
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby MJD » Wed Apr 14, 2004 10:22 am

>A note from the author of THE PERFECT MILE in regard to messages posted on this
>board.

Cool. I guess no one has to send anything to the editors. Hopefully there will be many more editions. You can't get much tougher a crowd than this. Who needs editors and fact checkers.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby hj197steve » Wed Apr 14, 2004 11:35 am

Thanks Neal, great to hear from you. Looking forward to reading your book. Hope you appreciate the spirit with which comments were made about some factual errors. As has been mentioned, we're a tough crowd !

Thanks again both for writing the book and taking the time to comment here. And if you ever write another book about T&F, you know where to come for editing help !
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby kuha » Wed Apr 14, 2004 12:39 pm

Neal: Nice comments--thanks for coming on! I admire your work on this project, and have a funny feeling our paths will cross sometime soon...... %-)
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby sjm1368 » Wed Apr 14, 2004 2:10 pm

Neal: Great Comments. I just finished your book and it's an excellent read even for people who already know the general facts of the story.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby MJD » Fri Apr 16, 2004 12:50 am

Hey Neal,
The website said it would be shipped within 24 hours 4 days ago and today I got this. Maybe that is a good thing?


"We have an update on your chapters.indigo.ca order, OR10548946. The following item(s) is
temporarily out of stock and is being re-ordered for you:


Item Title (Type)

The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It (BOOK)


We expect to receive stock of this item(s) within two weeks; we will ship your item(s) as soon
we receive it.

Please note: should we be unable to source your item(s) within this time frame we will cancel
this item from your order. Any remaining item(s) in your order will continue to stay on order.

Should you wish to cancel your order now, you may do so online via your online account. Please
click on the link below (or paste this link into your browser), sign into your online account
and then follow the instructions provided:
https://shop.chapters.indigo.ca/OrderHi ... efault.asp.

We do our best to maintain the accuracy of our inventory, and we apologize for any
inconvenience this delay may have caused.

Thank you for choosing chapters.indigo.ca!


Sincerely,
Chapters Indigo Online

_______________________________________________________________________
Chapters Indigo Online
http://chapters.indigo.ca"
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby kuha » Fri Apr 16, 2004 1:39 am

I don't think this situation will be very common. Every large bookstore in my city has copies, and I've gotten word from a very "inside" source that a total of 40,000 were printed. As a last resort, try amazon.com.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby MJD » Fri Apr 16, 2004 2:30 am

>I don't think this situation will be very common. Every large bookstore in my
>city has copies, and I've gotten word from a very "inside" source that a
>total of 40,000 were printed. As a last resort, try amazon.com.


They are having some trouble getting through the snow.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby kuha » Fri Apr 16, 2004 3:46 am

When does the snow clear? Mid-June or so...?
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby MJD » Fri Apr 16, 2004 5:18 am

>When does the snow clear? Mid-June or so...?

Actually, this is in the lower 48:

http://www.holimont.com/webcam/netcam.jpg
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby tandfman » Sat Apr 17, 2004 2:02 am

I, too, very much appreciated Neal Bascomb’s comments on our Board. As I indicated previously, I thought he did a very nice job of conveying the drama of that exciting period in our sport’s history. And I place the blame for the factual errors on the publishers, who must ultimately bear responsibility for what they put out on the street.

Given the possibility of having all these errors corrected for a subsequent edition, I thought that I might take the time to transcribe the notes that I took while I was reading it. Like Kuha, I found a number of errors of various kinds. There was an inaccurate description of when an athlete accomplished something important, two equally inaccurate references to when certain non-track events took place (one of which references revealed a woeful ignorance either of history or of the meaning of a certain term), an incorrect reference to an article that is used at a certain event, the misuse of a word that is an important part of the Olympic vocabulary, the misstatement of a time difference as odd as the one cited by Kuha, a grossly inaccurate statement of the cost of something at a particular time, and some solecisms that any competent copy editor would have caught and corrected. There was also a story, not described as factual but repeated nonetheless, that I have seen printed elsewhere and that is utter nonsense not worthy of mention in any context.

At one point I thought that perhaps I could contribute to the accuracy of the next edition by double checking all these points and adding them to this thread. I have decided not to that. I fear that doing this sort of thing would only encourage the Houghton Mifflins of the world to tolerate slipshod editing. Why waste the money hiring fact checkers and copy editors when there will always be a bulletin board on the Internet where the experts will do that work for you? Get the first edition out there, wait for the people who know what they’re talking about to weigh in and then fix all the errors for the next editions.

Do publishers think that way? Maybe not. But I don’t want them to. Publishers, like all businesses, are trimming costs like crazy these days, and I don’t want to contribute to a culture that enables them to think they can get away with saving a few bucks by letting someone do some of their work for free.

And that’s related to another reason I’m not going to share my detailed notes with the world. In track and field, as in most other fields, there are experts who get paid for consulting on projects like this. I know a few such experts who run track and field information services businesses and who would have been glad to take on the task of vetting this book for a fee. None of them does this as a full time livelihood—there isn’t very much work of this kind out there. But they do offer consulting services and of course they expect to get paid for what they do. I do not believe in taking work away from people. I don’t see why I should perform a service that adds value to the product of a business corporation without being paid for it, especially when there are professionals who do that sort of service for a reasonable fee.

So let me just repeat that I enjoyed reading the book, in spite of my frustration over seeing so many wrong details. I would recommend it to other track fans without hesitation. But I lament the errors that detracted from what might otherwise have been The Perfect Book.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby GeoffPietsch » Sat Apr 17, 2004 4:36 pm

Like others, I very much appreciate kuha's thorough review/commentary. I also liked Neal Bascomb's non-defensive response to the factual errors kuha noted. While those errors are definitely unfortunate, they are trivial compared to those of some other, "expert," authors. Case in point: John Keegan, the noted military historian. His Fields of Battle is replete with truly egregious errors. The two most amazing concern attributing actions to dead men. In one case he has Thomas Jefferson going to Bent's Fort, Colorado, which, as he says, was built in 1833 - 7 years after Jefferson's death on the 4th of July 1826, at the age of 83. (i.e.Even if Keegan was unaware that Jefferson and John Adams both died on the precise 50th anniversary of July 4, 1776, wouldn't he have recognized the implausability of a 90 year old going to the truly wild West in the 1830s?) And, later, he has Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston ordering the Confederate retreat on the 2nd day at Shiloh (Civil War) the day after his death turned the tide of battle. As I said, Bascomb's errors seem minor by comparison. I look forward to getting his book.
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Re: Bascomb's 'Perfect Mile'

Postby gh » Sun Apr 18, 2004 9:23 am

And then there are people who review the book perhaps without having actually read it. I can't believe this howler is actually in the book:

<<Only then, after Bannister's record-breaking performance, could "the perfect mile" be run. All three men were scheduled to compete against each other for the first time in a race in Vancouver, B.C. Why Santee ended up broadcasting the race on radio rather than racing is a heartbreaking story of bureaucratic power misused..>> say what?!

That's in a review in the SF Chron this morning in which the reviewer is titled "a former long-distance runner"

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... 62R4F1.DTL
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