The Olympic Games have become the single greatest festival of a universal and cosmopolitan humanity. Seventeen days of sporting competition watched and followed on every continent and in every country on the planet. Simply, the greatest show on earth. Yet when the modern games were inaugurated in Athens in 1896, the founders thought them a “display of manly virtue”, an athletic celebration of the kind of amateur gentleman that would rule the world. How was such a ritual invented? Why did it prosper and how has it been so utterly transformed?
In The Games, David Goldblatt – winner of the 2015 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award – takes on a breathtakingly ambitious search for the answers and brilliantly unravels the complex strands of this history. Beginning with the Olympics as a sporting side show at the great Worlds Fairs of the Belle Epoque and its transformation into a global media spectacular, care of Hollywood and the Nazi party, The Games shows how sport and the Olympics had been a battlefield during the Cold War, a defining moment for social and economic change in host cities and countries, and a theatre of resistance for women and athletes of colour once excluded from the show.
Illuminated with dazzling vignettes from over a century of Olympic competition – this stunningly researched history captures the excitement of sporting brilliance and the kaleidoscopic experience of the Games. It shows us how this sporting spectacle has come to reflect the world we hope to inhabit and the one we actually live in.
Financial Times, Books of the Year 2016 'Goldblatt has become arguably the premier Anglophone sports historian. Unflinching before millennia worth of material, he tells the Olympic story from the ancient Greeks to today's festival of sponsors. This book is illuminating, erudite, fair-minded, readable, told at a cracking pace, and put the Games in their social and political context.' * Financial Times, Books of the Year 2016 * 'If reading Goldblatt often forces confrontation with the ugly reality behind sporting fantasies, his encyclopaedic approach... still retains space for the extraordinary and inspirational in the arena.' * Spectator * 'Goldblatt has curated a definitive, thoughtful history.' * Sport Magazine * 'The book is ambitious and might have been daunting but Goldblatt is a well-qualified guide, bring the kind of insight and scale he brought to his heroic history of football, The Ball Is Round. * Observer * 'The Olympics have never really been about sport. As David Goldblatt shows in this bracingly debunking history, from the outset the Games have been a way to project a view of the world, usually based on ugly politics and bogus science. Goldblatt writes about this with all his usual intelligence and social insight... [he] retains a superb eye for the telling detail, especially in little tales of personal failure to set alongside the more familiar stories of heroic success.' * Guardian * 'His analysis and narrative flow are excellent, especially when we reach the modern era.' * The Sunday Times * The Times, Book of the Week 'An excellent, pacy, anecdote-studded history of the modern Games. This book is as good an account as there is of what draws us across reality's borders, and of what plays out on the other side.' * The Times * 'A high-speed toboggan ride through history' * New Statesman * 'Illuminating, erudite, fair-minded and readable. At a cracking pace, Goldblatt takes the story from the days when the giant statue of Zeus at Olympia held Nike - the goddess of victory - in the palm of his hand, right up to the era when one might argue that Nike, Coca-Cola, Visa, MacDonald's and the rest of the sponsors and official suppliers hold the whole Olympics more firmly in their grip.' * Financial Times * 'The author, David Goldblatt, presents a serious and thoroughly researched examination of how the Olympics at times was a sideshow when politics otherwise dominated the landscape, whereas some countries tried to portray themselves in a more positive light by using sport as a vehicle to project themselves across the world.' * Daily Express * 'Goldblatt's detailed research into the political and financial shenanigans of the modern Olympics is impressive. Goldblatt's analysis provides fascinating reading. . . The Games sets each Olympiad in a wider international and political context, with the issues of race and gender frequently to the fore...Candid and richly researched.' * Wall Street Journal * 'David Goldblatt's The Games: A Global History of the Olympics focuses more on scandal and controversy in the modern Games than on iconic moments and transcendent athletic performances. The International Olympic Committee will not be plugging this book.' * Huffington Post *
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