The Tarahumara Indians in Mexico’s hostile and remote Copper Canyon have a legendary ability to run for days on end. While regaling us with their story, Christopher McDougall introduces nutritionists, personal trainers, barefoot racers, and anthropologists who describe how homo sapiens were Born To Run (Vintage, $15.95). Ultimately, ultrarunners invite Tarahumara to the Colorado Rockies to compete in the Leadville Trail 100 Mile, and then return to Mexico to race on the Tarahumara’s home turf. McDougall’s wide-ranging documentation and the exuberance of the men and women he encounters will fascinate even those who have never hit the trails.
Jane Leavy’s remarkable biography of Mickey Mantle, THE LAST BOY (HarperCollins, $27.99), both explains and deconstructs the mythology of a man everyone loved but few understood. Through exhaustive research, hundreds of interviews, and an ability to be fair, truthful, and insightful, Leavy leads the reader through seminal points in Mantle’s life. In doing so, she reveals the human side of the legend, his struggles, his injuries, his meteoric rise to celebrity, and his effect on those both inside and outside his life. Leavy has hit a tape- measure home run of a book, and the wind was against her.