Five Rings and One Star

‘Andrea Schiavon’s excellent book reveals the story of the man who came up against history and managed to survive – twice’ – La Repubblica, Italy


5 September, 1972. 4.30 a.m. The Munich Olympic Village. Black September, a group of Palestinian terrorists, break into the Israeli team’s apartments. It is the beginning of the most tragic event in Olympic history and, after twenty hours, the day will end in a massacre, with the deaths of eleven Israelis, five Palestinians and a German policeman.


This is the story of the race-walker Shaul Ladany: a survivor. But more than just a member of the Israeli team from those terrible events in Munich, Ladany was a survivor of the darkest period in twentieth century history, having been interred as a child at the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen, the camp where Anne Frank died. For the second time in his life, Ladany has survived history. 


Ladany, the world record holder in the fifty-mile walk and a professor of industrial engineering, is one of Israel’s most successful athletes, having won dozens of national championships and competed at both the 1968 and 1972 Olympics; he was a student at Columbia University in New York, a soldier in the Six Days War and the Yom Kippur War. From Eichmann to Sharon, from Bikila to All Blacks, from Nixon to Thatcher: they are all a part of Ladany’s walk through the twentieth century. Award-winning author and journalist Andrea Schiavon tells Ladany’s extraordinary life and, walking with him, chronicles a whole century of events in this astonishing, touching and epic biography. 


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