Mark Schultz’s “Foxcatcher: The True Story of My Brother’s Murder, John Du Pont’s Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold,” co-written by David Thomas, tells his side of what happened until that fatal day in January 1996 when his brother was killed. The sad part is, this simply-written book shows that Mark’s story doesn’t live up to the meticulously researched stories about du Pont written before now.
Schultz’s book is a breezy 300 pages that spends the first half recalling his growing up with Dave and the strain of having divorced parents and moving frequently. Into his high school and college years we’re treated to a lot of rapid fire passages on his matches, including his first NCAA Championship, and, later, his 1984 Olympic gold medal win and 1985 World Championship.
What I’m sure most readers will be interested in is the book’s second half, which focuses on working with du Pont. This part served as the basis for the upcoming film “Foxcatcher.” The biggest disappointment is that even though du Pont’s “madness” is part of the book’s title, it encompasses only about 60 pages worth of personal encounters with the eventual murderer. Asked by du Pont to be an assistant coach for Villanova University’s new wrestling program, Schultz frequently mentions his boss’s ways of using his money to buy people, and how manipulative he is. He was one of those people.
There are few stories that truly show the madness the title claims, and what is seen in the film - based on Mark's story/book - shows even more of the bizarre behavior than what is in these pages. The madness we read about is how mentally damaging du Pont was to Schultz, making him lose his passion for wrestling and even giving up in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul so as not to give du Pont the pleasure of success by “coaching” a two-time gold medalist.
“Foxcatcher” is more an autobiography than a tale of a man grieving for his brother. The last line of the book reads “I miss you, Dave” and it’s an emotional moment, probably the most emotional in the book. In a book dominated with pages of wrestling recaps and the struggles of being an amateur wrestler, the last line makes up for the lack of sibling love and rivalry you would expect.
For those who are somewhat familiar with the story will find “Foxcatcher” an interesting view on a person who lived under the shadow of his brother, and under the manic aura of an eccentric millionaire. This book seems like another attempt for Mark to climb out from under the dominant figures in his life and stand proudly on his own, I just wish he had a better story to tell.
“Foxcatcher,” by Mark Schultz and David Thomas, will be released by Dutton on Nov. 18. 320 pages, $26.95 hardcover, $12.99 e-book.