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Ready -bookcover

By: Tom McNab


Pages: 364 Ratings: 4.8
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It is 1995 and the millionaire American decathlete Marty Luther Jones aims to be the first man to break the magic 9000-points barrier.After narrowly failing, he discovers that he has been ingesting a cocktail of drugs. None of these is illegal, but this causes him to seriously question his true ability.Marty now begins to hear voices and to see an old man who is invisible to anyone but him. He constantly asks Marty if he is “ready”.Marty discovers that the old man is the ghost of Jim Thorpe, a Native American athlete / football player of the early 20th century, one of the greatest American athletes of all time. Jim wants him to come back, to compete against him.The Aetherians, a spiritualist society, transport him back to 1911, where he finds that black existence is much harder. He befriends Jim Thorpe and becomes his coach.The two friends finally compete against each other in a titanic competition, but Marty then faces the problem of returning to the present with Mary Lou, the love of his life. Alas, no one from the past has ever made it forward into the future.

Tom McNab’s career spans both sport and the arts. Seven times Scottish triple jump champion, he played football for Scottish Youths and rugby for Bermuda, and has coached at world-level in athletics, rugby union and bobsleigh.

In 1963, he became a National Athletics Coach, created the Five Star Award Scheme, the world’s most successful children’s athletics programme, and the National Decathlon initiative which produced Daley Thompson. In 1973, he was coach to Chelsea FC when they won the FA Cup, and he helped take the English rugby union team to a silver medal in the 1991 World Cup.

It was in 1978 that he started work with Colin Welland as script advisor on the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire, later becoming its technical director. It was in the same period that, having written definitive technical works such as Modern Schools Athletics, he wrote his first novel, Flanagan’s Run. This went to the top of the best-seller lists in its first week, into 25 languages, and is now in film development. His next major novel, the sports-western The Fast Men, was declared the best book ever written on track and field athletics.

 A member of our London Olympic bid team, Tom presented a play on the Berlin Olympics, 1936, which showed successfully at Sadler’s Wells in 2012. His play on the German film director Riefenstahl, Leni. Leni., featured as a short film at Cannes in 2016, and Whisper in the Heart, featuring Riefenstahl and Orson Welles, will show at the Camden Arts Festival in August, 2018. He has recently written Orwell on Jura, and now has in preparation My Name is Joseph Knight, based on the famous Scottish slavery trial of 1778.

Still coaching back in 2003, he transformed a 16-year-old football player into a world-class long jumper. His name was Greg Rutherford.

Customer Reviews
4 reviews
4 reviews
  • John H Anderson

    This is an exciting and well thought through historical fiction allied with a fictional jump back in time by the hero. Marty Luther Jones is the fictional decathlete with plans to do two things. The first is to break the magic 9000 points barrier and the second is to compete against Jim Thorpe, the Olympic Champion, in both the Olympic Pentathlon and Decathlon in the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games.

    The imaginative way in which Marty Luther Jones in 1995 finds himself being involved in a spiritualist society and through them being transported back to 1911 is ingenious.

    The story is gripping and the interaction between Marty and Jim, not to mention Mary Lou is fascinating.

    Tom's story and imagination grip you from the very beginning and the excitement builds throughout the story till you arrive at the climax.

    Jim Thorpe was one of the greatest athletes of all time and won both gold medals in the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm and the delicious idea of a fictional star of today being transported back to compete with Jim makes for an enthralling competition raising several questions. Who would win between Jim and Marty and of course what happens with the love interest and Mary Lou, resulting in the final question " will any of them get back to 1995?

    This is a great read and falls into the category "can't put it down'!

  • Ursula Mohan

    I really enjoyed reading Tom McNab’s “Ready”. I know little of Track and Field and sports history but the well written descriptions of competition and events was so beautifully and simply intertwined with the life stories of the characters and their surroundings that I had no difficulty relating to all the elements of the book. The short chapters gave the novel movement and speed like the track events themselves and made this science fiction tale of love, greed, ambition and endeavour a really compelling read.

  • Ian

    Who hasn’t wondered how today’s professional athletes would have fared against the greats of the past? Or speculated about the influence of modern training methods, sophisticated equipment and –er – drugs on the astonishing achievements we see today in track and field?
    Tom McNab’s hugely entertaining book posits just such a scenario by transporting a top athletic star back in time to 1912 to take on one of the greatest American athletes of all time - the legendary Native American Jim Thorpe. Tom McNab has coached athletics at world level and this book is shot through with his encyclopaedic knowledge and understanding of the world of top competitive sport. A great read.

  • Anthony Mackay

    Overall I found the novel very enjoyable to read. It has a driving storyline and appears to be well researched on the period in which much of the novel is set, with informed comments and observations on the social issues surrounding the involvement of Indian and Negro sportsmen and on the moral issues connected with drug taking in top-level sport. The fantasy element of the story is dealt with in a way which allows the reader to recognise that it is only fantasy, whilst allowing the story to proceed unimpeded by its impossibility. I recognised that this was merely a way to tell the real story of the great Jim Thorpe and the fictional Marty Jones, and I wanted to read it.
    Technically, of course, Tom McNab has unparalleled inside knowledge of the decathlon and all that it involves in relation to training, techniques, mental approach and discipline. This shines through the pages and gives great authenticity to the story and to the characters of the people involved. His in-depth knowledge of the historical events surrounding the period of the novel and of the levels of performance intrinsic to the athletics events described underpins the narrative and makes it come alive. It was difficult to put down and kept me reading late into the night.

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