While the world suffered the great depression in the thirties, one aspect of society was booming. Track and Field had become hugely popular and milers above all. This meticulously researched book by New Zealand journalist Lynn McConnell charts the period between the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932 and the infamous Nazi Games of Berlin four years later. The main characters were New Zealander Jack Lovelock (although he was claimed by Great Britain as well). The son of immigrants Lovelock was born in New Zealand but following his studies at Oxford he returned only once to the land of his birth, preferring to remain in England. The US provided the extrovert Glenn Cunningham, the eccentric Bill Bonthron and the unlucky Gene Venzke. Then there was Italian Luigi Beccal, the 1932 Olympic 1500m champion,two British runners, Jerry Cornes and Sydney Wooderson, and Phil Edwards of Canada. Their rivalry took interest in athletics to new heights in the USA as well as fascinating the rest of the world. The four years provided exciting racing culminating in one of the great Olympic 1500 metres final won by Lovelock in a world record.
… superbly reconstructed by Lynn McConnell... who provides particularly acute insights into the career and personality of his compatriot thanks to reference to the Lovelock diaries. The other towering figures of that period are also well drawn and there is much for the enthusiast to savour... It’s a terrific, nostalgic story of the fascinating characters who contributed to an enchanting era in miling history.
… a most enthralling book which ... a profound study of the careers of Jack Lovelock, Luigi Beccali, Glenn Cunningham, Bill Bonthron, Gene Venzke, Jerry Cornes and Sydney Wooderson. Lovelock, who won the 1500 at the '36 Olympics in World Record time (3:47.8), is the main figure in the plot. "A most emblematic name Down Under, his tragic death beneath a subway car in New York when only 39 had indirectly contributed to make him one of the most famous subjects in the history of miling."
Lynn McConnell really has struck gold... the chapter on Cunningham makes compelling reading. Sports historians will thoroughly enjoy Conquerors Of Time.
In these days of hustle and bustle there is an element of great joy in seeing a book dedicated to great middle distance athletes of over 70 years ago, especially one that has on it’s cover a great picture of Luigi Beccali and Jack Lovelock in perfect unison at the head of the pack at the Universiade of Turin in 1933. All the great races of the period are analysed with great attention to detail starting with Beccali’s victory in the Los Angeles games of 1932. The author has travelled the world and has contacted the descendants of his ‘heroes’ reconstructing in great detail the ‘entourage’ in which they lived and operated. The entire group is carefully dissected in splendid detail by the author. Lovelock, who died tragically under a train in the New York Metro, is one of the athletes who have attracted the curiosity of historians - Of the books dedicated to him this is the most profound.
What a great shame this book could not find a home in New Zealand. ...It is a book whose protagonist is a New Zealand hero, though it is not a New Zealand book as such, and perhaps that is what made potential publishing houses here fidgety. It certainly couldn't have been the quality. This could be considered the mortar around the Lovelock foundation stones – The Legend of Lovelock (1964), by Norman Harris and As If Running on Air (2008), Lovelock's diaries edited by David Colquhoun – but Conquerors of Time is more than that also. It is a fascinating study into a golden era of the mile and metric mile... meticulously researched, by the time you have finished there is nothing you will not know about the build-up to the great race. If you like athletics, you will love this. If you enjoy character studies into the men who became the first middle-distance track legends, there is plenty for you too.