Item description for Closing the Distance: Chasing a Father's Olympic Fencing Legacy by Jeff Bukantz...
Closing The Distance is a memoir that reveals the trials and tribulations Jeff Bukantz encountered while following in his father's legendary footsteps. Throughout the book, the author provides insight about the highs and lows of competing in the Olympics, including inside stories about the 2004 Athens Olympic Games where he led the American Fencing Team to its first gold medal in 100 years. Besides the unique experiences of the author, the memoir takes a heart-warming look at the powerful force of family and the competitive human spirit.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.4" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.7" Weight: 0.9 lbs.
Release Date Jun 21, 2006
ISBN 1933631309 ISBN13 9781933631301
Reviews - What do customers think about Closing the Distance: Chasing a Father's Olympic Fencing Legacy?
Captured an era Feb 6, 2008
I was active in Metropolitan Division fencing during the time Jeff describes although I was a sabre fencer with Santelli New York but Jeff really captures fencing during that time and I knew many of the people he mentions in the book. Other reviewers have mentioned that he might have been unfair to some some of the fencers mentioned but people should remember that this is a product of Jeff's experience with them, primarily as a competitor. While he is brutally candid in his opinion of people such as Albie Axelrod, who was assistant coach at Hunter College while I fenced there, we have to remember that these are his experiences with Albie. Mine were somewhat different but given the fact that these are fiercely competitive people I can understand how they could have rubbed each other raw.
Jeff's descriptions of the Fencer's Club in the West 70s brought back many memories and I could see the old place in my mind clearly has he describes episodes in his book. It was also great that he remembers Csaba Eltes, one of the great sabre coaches in the history of American Fencing who was also a very good foil coach. All in all, Jeff's story was enlightening and has inspired me to get back into the sport. I highly recommend this book and hope people will be able to read it in the spirit it was written. I only regret I never got a chance to meet Danny Bukantz while I did get to meet Jeff in passing way back when.
Not even close... Sep 8, 2007
As a former fencer of 25 years ago and a recent return to competitive fencing, I came across Jeff Bukantz's book by accident. Flipping through the pages, I was intrigued by his father's accomplishments. When I noticed that he was a CCNY alumnus, I definitely was hooked - being one myself from a later generation. Mr. Bukantz's book for me is approached from two levels. First, his personal relations with his famous father and his attempt to deal with that give great insight into human nature. It transcends the world of fencing and applies to any profession. I would rate that part of this book 5 stars.
The second level of the book deals with competitive fencing from the inside. This part is not very appealing and is worthy of only 1 star. My average rating therefore is 3.
It seems that Mr. Bukantz decided to use this book to justify his bad behavior on the strip by attacking his opponents and naming names. In one instance, he cites how it is un-sportsman like to hit an opponent after "halt" is called in fencing. In this book however, he did exactly that in at least 3 instances where he denigrates his opponents and colleagues in a forum where the other person does not have a voice to respond. (in effect, he has committed the sin of attacking someone "after the halt".) I don't know Mr. Bukantz personally and I have not cross sword with him since I fenced epee and in an earlier time than his active fencing days. However, I do know some of the other people he writes about personally. I must cite at least in one instance that he attacked my friend and teammate of 30 years and it is without merit. I was a team member at CCNY Varsity fencing and I can attest to the fact that his innuendo regarding my friend is false. He owes my friend Arnold Messing a public apology and the others as well. It is also interesting as a reader the information that the author chooses to include to the minute detail and other information that is left out completely. It seems to be a case of selective memory recall. The most destructive part of this book is that he presents a negative portrayal of competitive fencing to the outsider. Fencing is an honorable sport. In all my years of competitive fencing, I found it to be very satisfying. Most competitors are respectful of their opponents and never carry their competitiveness off the strip. If anything, Mr. Bukantz's experience is the exception rather than the rule. The title "Closing the Distance" is well chosen, but by what was written, he did not even come close to his father's sportsmanship.
Fun and entertaining Apr 20, 2007
As someone who didn't know a thing about fencing, I picked up this book on a whim and LOVED IT! Jeff's writing style is so fast-paced and entertaining that I finished the book in just a couple of days. Who knew fencing could be so interesting?! This memoir tracks Jeff's journey following in his father's rather large footsteps. (His father, Danny, was a 4-time Olympic fencer.) Closing the Distance charts Jeff's highs and lows and culminates in the 2004 Olympics where Jeff led his team to the first Olympic gold medal in fencing in over 100 years.
But, this book isn't just about fencing. It's about the relationships between fathers and sons. Anyone who is looking to find a good book that a dad can share with his son should look no further!
required reading at my fencing club Sep 18, 2006
I especially enjoyed this book because Jeff Bukantz is my age, and I have met, and in some cases fenced, almost everyone mentioned in the book, including the author himself.
as a member of the Portland, Oregon, club Salle Auriol, I viewed Jeff's club, the New York Fencers Club, the same way a Los Angeles Laker would view the Boston Celtics.
until one of my former teammates writes his memoirs, "Closing the Distance" will be the best description of what it was like for me as a competitive fencer in the 80s.
I'm back home in Hawaii now but in my heart I will always be a member of Salle Auriol (now the Northwest Fencing Center). because of this, Jeff and his New York Fencers Club will always be my natural enemies, but only in a sports/nostalgic way. not true enemies. and anyway, we're all retired now.
Jeff's book is required reading at my current club, Salle Honolulu, and whether you "hate" the New York Fencers Club or not, it should be required reading at every fencing club.
Motivatinal & Inspiring Read Sep 4, 2006
Every child wants to be like their parents. If your parent is a superstar, that can be a hard act to follow. Closing The Distance is Jeff Bukants's memoir that reveals the trials and tribulations he encountered while trying to be like his father. He shows us what motivation, determination and hard work can do. He tells us about competing in the Olympics, and many other emotional and inspiring stories.