Jeff Benjamin’s Spring Book Reviews

Third  In A Series

Chariots Return – Saving The Soul Of The Games

By Mark Ryan

Review by Jeff Benjamin

WARNING – If you’ve never seen the film “Chariots Of Fire” – Watch it before buying this book!

Author Mark Ryan sure had his work cut out for him.

With the 2024 Olympiad in Paris approaching, Ryan, in his top-flight work “Chariots Return,” decided to take readers on a journey through time, with the apex being the 1924 Paris Olympic Games.

The book, which traces the lives of the real-life “Chariots of Fire” movie characters Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell, is thoroughly and inspiringly rewarding for those of us who still believe in the Olympic ideal.

I’m not going into too much detail here (I’ll leave that up to you, the reader, to pursue!) Abrahams & Liddell, who won Gold in Paris in their respective events, come across in the book with all the talents & faults possessed by all of us human beings. Yet few have ever gone on to the heights of physical performances, as shown wonderfully in the 1982 Academy Award Best Picture-winning movie. What Ryan has done so well in his thoroughly and meticulously researched book is to show that both Brit legends still went on to more incredible things.

What was dramatically altered in the film is explained in great detail by Ryan, who also involves film producer Lord David Puttnam in retelling Abrahams and Liddell’s lives alongside their contributions to the Sport and beyond.

Yet, while Abraham’s contributions as a future broadcaster and Athletics leader led him to live a life longer than Liddell’s (who tragically perished in a Japanese internment camp towards the end of WW2), the Scotsman’s contributions are shown to be significant as well.


Ryan, in this grand and gripping retelling of these legends, most probably wants people to harken back a century to those qualities of sportsmanship that have endeared the Olympic Games to the world. As Puttnam mentioned, the later 20th century, along with new-century attitudes and controversies, has brought about different views today about Paris 2024.

Yet one can still learn and be inspired by the past, as evidenced by the enduring popularity of “Chariots of Fire”.

In “Chariots Return,” Mark Ryan echoes all of this alongside a solid assist from someone who is always preaching that –

“The most important thing is to be a student of your sport. Understand its history and the adversity others had to overcome.”

Lord Sebastian Coe!

To purchase a copy of “Chariots Return,” please go to –