|Pages/Publication Date:||290 / 2015|
As the world hurtled toward war in the 1930s, speed was all the rage and bobsledding was a sensation. The fastest, most thrilling sport of the era was the must-see event of the 1932 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, run on a course so lethal that officials nearly canceled the races, and it required exceptional skill and courage—qualities ingrained in the ragtag American team. London-based sportswriter Andy Bull profiles this unlikely bunch, including former movie star Clifford "Tippy" Gray; heavyweight boxing champ and Rhodes scholar Eddie Eagan; handsome, Gatsbyish gambler Jay O'Brien; and the heart of the team, charismatic young Billy Fiske, who a few years later would become the first American fighter pilot killed in World War II.
"The care Bull demonstrates in developing each of the figures in this engrossing narrative is almost novelistic.... A well-written and entertaining sports story."—Kirkus Reviews
"Brings to life the fascinating creation of the Winter Olympics and dives into the psychology of early extreme athletes. Best of all, it's told through the eyes of thrillingly complex characters, some of them admirable and some of them deliciously devious. It's rare to be so educated on a forgotten part of history, yet so joyfully entertained."—Reed Albergotti
"Talk about a fast read! Bull's tale starts at a breakneck pace and never lets up, taking in stories of playboys, princes, pilots, and prize fighters along the way. Speed Kings is not only a great adventure story of perseverance against the odds; it's also a brilliant evocation of a romantic and riskier era."—Michael Blanding