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Friday, February 13, 2015

Foxcatcher: The True Story of My Brother's Murder, John du Pont's Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold

I saw the movie recently and decided it would be worth picking up Mark Schultz's memoir of his experiences, Foxcatcher: The True Story of My Brother's Murder, John du Pont's Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold.

In the early days of 1996, Dave Schultz is shot to death in the driveway of his own home. He was a wrestling world champion and Olympic gold medalist, and he was heading up Team Foxcatcher on the grounds of the infamous du Pont compound in Pennsylvania. His killer, John du Pont, had for years been a drug addict and unstable. He lured in Dave's brother, Mark, first, and Dave and his family soon followed. It would be that fateful decision that would ultimately take Dave's life.

You may not know this, but November through February of each year (although I realize it spreads years), it's Oscar season. This is an exciting time in my home, as I love films and I love the Oscars and I see every movie. Foxcatcher stars Channing Tatum, Steve Carrell, and Mark Ruffalo, and it was getting such good critical reviews that I went to see it almost immediately. I was so blown away by the creepiness of it all that I picked up the book right away.

It's written by Mark Schultz, the wrestler who originally became involved with John du Pont and his brother, Dave, killed by John. It's a full portrait of a pair of brothers who were best friends and competitors on the mat. It was clear throughout this whole book how much Mark adored his slightly older brother Dave, and the long ranging affects the Dave's murder has had on Mark. It's a devastating story really, one that seems almost inevitable looking back. John du Pont was one crazy man, and reading Mark's account as well as doing some side research, it seems that there was really nothing that anyone could have done to stop him from committing violent acts against those on his own property. The signs were there, but I guess if you donate enough money to the police don't turn their backs on just about anything.

There was a lot of technical wrestling know-how in this book, and the bulk of the first half is really focused on Mark's wrestling accomplishments. It wasn't necessarily my bag of tea, so I was able to skim a good bunch of this and really just focus on when he talked about his relationship with his brother and the events leading up to the murder. The most interesting parts of this book were what led Mark to become involved with du Pont, and the relationship between the madman and his minions. It's a frightening story of what extreme wealth and shelter from the world can do to a man. There's a big secret that explains so much about who du Pont is that he reveals to Mark towards the end of their time together that explains so much. You have to read for yourself to find out what that is.

For purchase below.

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