Crawley is always a respectful observer, affording his subjects the time and space to share their insights without judgment. He mulls over the things he finds, connecting dots, but without forcing them to come together to form one coherent picture. That is just as well, as that would be to try to contain it, box it up and put a lid on it, when it is too enigmatic for that, and Crawley allows it to remain that way.
His writing is evocative and easily paced, and, like the athletes, flits between seriousness and humour. The sounds, smells and sights of Ethiopia feel almost within reach, while the scholarly references are just enough to enhance our understanding without slowing down the narrative.