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The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb

The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb (2004)
They said that the four minute mile could never be broken, that it just was not physically possible. Three athletes competing from separate corners of the globe raced against the clock and each other to prove them wrong.

Listen to an interview with the author and Roger Bannister (NPR) or watch the memorable races from May 6, 1954 (BBC) and August 7, 1954 (CBC).

Monster of the Midway by Jim Dent

Monster of the Midway: Bronko Nagurski, the 1943 Chicago Bears, and the Greatest Comeback Ever by Jim Dent (2003)
Before multimillion dollar contracts, television and injured reserve lists, professional football players often played while hurt for little money with no motivation other than the desire to win. Monster of the Midway traces the history of a fledgling league struggling to survive through the exploits of one of its toughest competitors.

Check our catalog for other books and movies about the Chicago Bears.

The Perfect Summer by Juliet Nicolson

The Perfect Summer by Juliet Nicolson (2007)
This nonfiction book is a snapshot of the summer of 1911. That summer, Kaiser Wilhelm comes to the coronation of his cousin George V, as King of England. The upper classes were indulging in balls and love affairs and the working classes were becoming increasingly disgruntled. A surprisingly quick and entertaining read.

Shakespeare by Bill Bryson

Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson (2007)
As part of the Eminent Lives series, Bryson presents a brief (196 page) biography of William Shakespeare – brief, he explains, because so little is actually known about Shakespeare. In his quirky comedic style, Bryson elucidates on what few facts exist on Shakespeare’s life. General history is interwoven with specifics about the playwright (for example, up to 40% of brides were pregnant on their wedding day). With amusing anecdotes on farfetched theories (like the plays were actually written by Francis Bacon, a random aristocrat, or a combination thereof), Shakespeare is a quick, enjoyable read on a mysterious author’s life and times.

After you read the biography, if you're interested in reading Shakespeare's works, check out the library catalog or visit MIT's The Complete Works of William Shakespeare online. To find out more about Shakespeare -- his life, works, theater, FAQs -- visit the Folger Shakespeare Library website.

Einstein (2007) and Kissinger (1992) by Walter Isaacson

Einstein: His Life and Universe (2007) and Kissinger: a biography (1992) by Walter IsaacsonEinstein and his earlier book, Kissinger, should be read one after the other to see how Isaacson deals with two professionally different, but similar, persons who have had great effect on the US and the world. Both left Nazi Germany to escape persecution and rose to the top of their fields. As a bonus, the two biographies challenge the reader in physics and world politics, as well as generate new interest in these fields.

Listen to any or all of three interviews with Isaacson on NPR: there's a 2007 interview following the publication of Einstein; a 2003 interview following the publication of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; and a 2002 interview discussing Kissinger's background.