Kerrie Mitchell
February 15, 2008 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Great Swim

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Gavin Mortimer
publisher
Walker & Company
genre
Sports, Nonfiction

We gave it an A-

In 1926, when legs-baring bathing suits were still considered titillating, swimming the English Channel was a fast track to international stardom. Gavin Mortimer’s engrossing book, The Great Swim, follows four American women who competed that summer to become the first female to cross the treacherous strait. Mortimer’s descriptions of their attempts are gripping, like the failed try of underdog Clarabelle Barrett, who struggled in rough seas for over 21 hours before giving up. Even more fascinating is the rabid celebrity culture he evokes: Mobs of adoring fans in New York nearly tore one successful swimmer to pieces, only to forget all about her the following year. A-

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