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About the book
  • Published: 18 May 2017
  • ISBN: 9780224100359
  • Imprint: Yellow Jersey
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 480
  • RRP: $22.99

Today We Die a Little

The Rise and Fall of Emil Zátopek, Olympic Legend

The definitive biography of one of the greatest, most extraordinary runners and Olympic heroes of all time, from the author of running classic Feet in the Clouds.

Emil Zátopek won five Olympic medals, set 18 world records, and went undefeated over 10,000 metres for six years. He redefined the boundaries of endurance, training in Army boots, in snow, in sand, in darkness. But his toughness was matched by a spirit of friendship and a joie de vivre that transcended the darkest days of the Cold War.

His triumphs put his country on the map, yet when Soviet tanks moved in to crush Czechoslovakia’s new freedoms in 1968, Zátopek paid a heavy personal price for his brave defence of ‘socialism with a human face’. Rehabilitated two decades later, he was a shadow of the man he had been – and the world had all but forgotten him.

Today We Die A Little strips away the myths to tell the complex and deeply moving story of the most inspiring Olympic hero of them all.


  • Pub date: 18 May 2017
  • ISBN: 9780224100359
  • Imprint: Yellow Jersey
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 480
  • RRP: $22.99

About the Author

Richard Askwith

Richard Askwith has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He has written five previous books, including an evocative biography of Emil Zátopek, Today We Die A Little, which was shortlisted in the Cross Sports Book Awards. This marked his first foray into the world of Czechoslovak sport. His first book, Feet in the Clouds, won Best New Writer at the British Sports Book Awards and the Bill Rollinson Prize for Landscape and Tradition. It was also shortlisted for the William Hill and Boardman Tasker prizes. His 2014 book, Running Free, was shortlisted for the Thwaites-Wainwright Prize.

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Praise for Today We Die a Little

“A tale from athletics' age of innocence... He was a sporting hero not just for his time but for all time”


“A wonderfully in-depth and often emotionally charged piece of writing”

Athletics Weekly

“An astonishing achievement... There are few writers as adept at capturing so lyrically the utter and incomprehensible strangeness of distance running... A joy to read”

Literary Review

“Sport book of the year… A fascinating tale, showing all sides of Zátopek, injecting humanity and humour into a dramatic life”

Matt Butler, i, Book of the Year

“Reminds us of the pain and the glory behind every victory and the power of sport to bring people together and make history”

Martina Navratilova

“A warm, honest and moving account of one of the greatest sportsmen of all time. Richard Askwith brings to life both the epic triumphs but also the difficulties and complexities of Zatopek's role in Communist Czechoslovakia”

Adharanand Finn, author of Running with the Kenyans

“A portrait of a fine but flawed human.”

Nick Pitt, Sunday Times, Book of the Year

“A tremendous read and also a reminder of the lost purity of track and field”

Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times


Huw Richards, Guardian

“Before Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe, there was Emil Zátopek - a Czechoslovakian soldier turned long-distance runner turned Cold War victim. His four Olympic golds, 18 world records and Communist party career are all laid bare in this definitive account”


“A powerful look at one of the greatest Olympic champions of all time... Riveting... [Zátopek] had a great heart — he was not just an iconic athlete; he was a peacemaker”

Bill Rodgers, Olympic runner and four-times winner of the New York and Boston Marathons

“[A] rigorous account.”


“Of all the new non-fiction books with Olympic connections, this is the finest and most inspiring.”


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