The Games

The Games❮Reading❯ ➿ The Games Author David Goldblatt – For millions of people around the world the Summer and Winter Games are a joy and a treasure but how did they develop into a global colossus How have they been buffeted by—and in turn affected by— For millions of people around the world the Summer and Winter Games are a joy and a treasure but how did they develop into a global colossus How have they been buffeted by—and in turn affected by—world events Why do we care about them so muchFrom the reinvention of The Games in Athens in to Rio in best selling sportswriter David Goldblatt brilliantly traces their history through national triumphs and tragedies individual victories and failures Here is the story of grand Olympic traditions such as winners’ medals the torch relay and the eternal flame Here is the story of popular Olympic events such as gymnastics the marathon and alpine skiing as well as discontinued ones like tug of war And here in all their glory are Olympic icons from Jesse Owens to Nadia Comaneci Abebe Bikila to Bob Beamon the Dream Team to Usain BoltHailed in the Wall Street Journal for writing about sports “with the expansive eye of a social and cultural critic” Goldblatt goes beyond the medal counts to tell how women fought to be included in the Olympics on eual terms how the wounded of World War II led to the Paralympics and how the Olympics reflect changing attitudes to race and ethnicity He explores the tensions between The Games’ amateur ideals and professionalization and commercialism in sports the pitched battles between cities for the right to host The Games and their often disappointing economic legacy And in covering such seminal moments as Jesse Owens and Hitler at Berlin in the Black Power salute at Mexico City in the massacre of Israeli athletes at Munich in and the Miracle on Ice at Lake Placid in Goldblatt shows how prominently the modern Olympics have highlighted profound domestic and international conflictsIlluminated with dazzling vignettes from over a century of the Olympics this stunningly researched and engagingly written history captures the excitement drama and kaleidoscopic experience of The Games. I love history and historical books but this book wasn't exactly the history that I was expectinghoping for It was very detailed but didn't really keep me interested I would have liked about the highlights that one would expect from a book about the olympics and a little bit less about the committees and the Baron de Coubertin Well certainly comprehensive I found this to be very dry I am not one of those people who gets involved with sports I don't watch Big Sports of any type even living in this miraculous year in Cleveland Team sports hold no interest for me and I tend to be put off by the rabid partisanship of the crowds the idolization of overgrown boys who can play what are basically children's games with skill and their out of proportion importance in our society I am the first to grouse about the billions of dollars we pour into these entertainments which could instead be used on medical research alternative energy sources hunger and infrastructure I am also thoroughly creeped out by the nationalism I see encroaching and into our world view It was a bad idea eighty years ago and it remains a bad idea todayYetI am a hypocrite Because I have a soft spot for the hyped up money hemorrhaging nationalist circus that is the Olympic Games Although I view their current underpinnings with suspicion and a bit of disgust I enjoy the spectacle and the events themselves I have a long memory for some things and my Olympic memories extend back to Munich that dismal and frightening Games marred by the footage of armed terrorists and police on balconies in the Olympic Village I looked forward the the Olympics because we had to wait four years between them which felt like an eternity to a child and because they took place in various exotic locales around the globe I was a child who was fascinated from an early age with other cultures and parts of the world My life ambition was to be a 'world traveller' a goal I met mainly through the television and my viewing of the Olympics and other documentaries about the world's treasuresI recall Olga Korbut Marc Spitz Dorothy Hamil Bruce Jenner long before Kaitlyn Nadia Comaneci Torvill and Dean Carl Lewis Sebastian Coe Sugar Ray Leonard the East German women's swimming team the US hockey team 'miracle' of 1980 Greg Louganis Mary Lou Retton Katarina Witt and on and on and on I could write six paragraphs about the memories I have being glued to the TV with my family watching our collective pop cultural sports history unfold throughout the latter part of the 20th century As an adult I have had less time to watch and I have been less happy with the coverage of the events Less depth of coverage too much focus on American athletes and gold medalists and not enough attention paid to athletes from other regions and athletes who are deeper back in the medal field but who may have intriguing personal storiesSo there is a lot for me to love but also a lot for me to wince about when it comes to this world wide ritual As I read The Games I had a clear impression that the author David Goldblatt has a similarly complex relationship with the Olympics His commentary on the history of the Games was at times scathing I found him to be uite funny And I believe he almost wrote parts of this book as a cautionary tale Fans may not be aware of how out of control the Olympics have become from a staging perspective Very few cities in the world can actually afford to present them and to keep them relatively secure at this point They have ballooned into a high maintenance White Elephant with champagne taste which may not survive long into the 21st century if reforms and retooling do not take holdThe Olympic Committee does not come off smelling like a rose in this narrative They are apparently very much an Old Boys Club of insiders who enjoy luxury travel I don't know how you get this gigbut it sounds like a sweet deal to megetting first class treatment for months at a time as one vets the sexiest world capitals on the globe Nice work if you can get it They have also been somewhat fossilized and very late to adapt to the changing world around them Goldblatt saves a lot of his hilarious British sarcasm for this gang of griftersBut we all like to look back on the highlight reel of our lives and these 'collective events' are growing and rare in a fragmented world where everyone has their own Youtube channel and Soundcloud mix People no longer join community groups or social organizations Bowling Alone and fewer and fewer belong to organized religions Gone is the group experience in most of our lives Perhaps this is why we have become so relentlessly tribal in our sports fandom and our political affiliations These remain the few areas in our lives where we feel part of a larger group of 'people like us'I enjoyed this overview of the Games because it did ignite some deeply buried memories I have as a spectator I was also fascinated by the chapters on the early modern Games from the turn of the last century There is interesting video footage online of the London Games from 1908 The Games provides an interesting overview of the modern Olympic Games from Athens in 1896 through an introduction to the Rio Games we just finished viewing this past summer The Summer Games get coverage in this book than the Winter Games which are described as somewhat of a step child to the Summer Games at least initially They seem to have gained in stature and popularity in contemporary times I have always enjoyed them eually being fond of figure skating and skiingI was hoping that the book would have a bit depth about each Olympics However the scope here is to provide an overview of the history of the Games as a whole Something detailed would probably be encyclopedic in length I do not feel this is a demerit The Games was a solid and entertaining starting point I am interested in the topic and will probably search for titles about the various Olympics I remember watching over the years I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest reviewI really looked forward to reading this account of the history of the Olympic Games especially with the upcoming Rio 2016 Games However I must confess that I was disappointed when I actually read the bookThe size of the book promises plenty of facts and details about the Olympic competitions and Goldblatt certainly delivers on PLENTY I often felt overwhelmed with the information especially as the existent organization was scant Each of the labeled chapters was divided into untitled subsections which rarely seemed to have an organizing topic The text in these sections often jumped from year to year country to country or event to event without clear connections between the two This made it difficult for me as the reader to remember the new information I'd gained as interesting facts would show up as afterthoughts or sueezed between two other accounts In fact the organization was so haphazard that I often didn't know the purpose of a subsection until I'd finished the ten pages and I regularly needed to stop reading to remind myself of the chapter title and consider how the page I was reading related to the chapter Finally and jarring than the topic changes were the random author intrusions when Goldblatt commented on the difficulty of a task or cheered a competitionAll in all most of my experience reading this text was frustrating but I must admit it did deliver the information I sought Unfortunately it has discouraged me from reading any other Goldblatt book though I'd been looking forward to his account of the history of soccer Starting in 1896 with Athens the Olympics were revived and every 4 years the event gets bigger the staging elaborate and athletes competeWhy I started this book I love watching the Olympics and basically spend two weeks glued to the TV I was eager to learn about the Olympics and get some insights into the background behind the scenes stuffWhy I finished it First of all the audio was a little confusing as Goldblatt would group 2 5 of the cities together and talk about a theme or issue starting with the first games in the group and then moving forward He would then jump back and pick another thread for that group and follow it I bet the physical book had markers or sections and it was easy to understand but it took me a while to figure it out Crazy to consider the changes that the Olympics have gone through in just 100 years From all white males to embracing the world both genders disabled and pro athletes its been a wild ride And if the games don't live up to their ideals its still a fabulous show Im most pleased with this book for teaching me that shin kicking was once an Olympic sport This book is great but it may suffer from being too exhaustive too authoritative There are clearly fascinating stories tied to certain games that are deserving of their own entire books To cram the entire history into one is a rewarding exercise but each games' story can't help but feel somewhat rushed Still an incredible summation The Games presents a historic overview of the ancient Olympic games and attempts to revive them through the Middle Ages and the Industrial Revolution The eventual revival of the modern Olympics as we know them today is covered as is the development through the 20th century This was a free review audio copy was obtained through Goodreadscom It does provide a decent history that would be of interest to any fan of the Olympics Read on flight to Rio to get into the mood A lot of focus on the politics behind the games why cities were chosen Would have preferred about the actual games themselves I intended to read this book just before the 2016 Rio Olympics – when it was released I ended up reading it just before the 2018 Winter Olympics began finishing it just in time for the opening ceremony But it feels rather appropriate delayed starts races against time and “time as well as cost overruns” have become increasingly common in Olympic host cities as highlighted by David Goldblatt in his thorough and well researched “The Games – A global history of the Olympics” The book is not a dry or plain recounting of various events winners facts and stats Instead this is an opinionated and well argued history of the Olympic movement the socio cultural and political backdrops of the various games the different metaphors and symbolisms that they represented at various times The sporting greats and achievements are recounted too – but those are not Goldblatt’s only focus In fact those uncomfortable with being reminded of the corruption – and poor governance political one upmanship petty bureaucratic suabbles pompous officials heavy handed government handling of the poor and homeless who come in the way of the construction projects will find the book too critical and not celebratory enough Sadly corruption and mismanagement are a reality not just at the IOC but also at world ruling bodies for football athletics and volleyball among others as a strong of high profile scandals that have come to light in recent years show But the author’s opinions are well supported by facts and the blending and juxtaposition of the Games themselves with the backdrops and side stories make for an engrossing read He starts with a brief history of the ancient Olympics and similar events that sporadically took place over the centuries and of Baron de Coubertin the French aristocrat whose passion to recreate the ancient games led to birth of the IOC and the modern Olympic movement Goldblatt sees the history of the Games as one that’s intertwined with global power dynamics While the first few Olympics struggled find a footing the 1900 1904 and 1908 Games were held as an adjunct to “World Trade Fairs” in those cities and those even in the 1920s were small affairs Berlin 1936 changed it all Held as a showcase of the political ideology of Nazism and to directly serve as a form of state directed global soft power these were the first Games to have a purpose built gargantuan stadium multi sports Olympic Park a new concept called Olympic torch relay and spruced city that was prepped to be an actor on the global stageThe war that followed and the post War austerity days meant a return to less showy Games in the 50’s but from the 1960s they again served as announcements of countries’ arrival on the global stage such as Tokyo as a futuristically modern city in 1964 Mexico as an industrialized nation in 1968 and Rome 1960 and Germany 1972 as symbols of re emergence from the post War aftermaths Seoul 1988 and Beijing 2008 were similar This period also coincided with the onset of the television age and Olympics began the journey to being the multi billion dollar spectacles that they now are With the desire of host cities to be as much a star of the show came skyrocketing costs on grandiose projects and corruption that usually goes with it Montreal set a new record for the time with the builder government nexus something also very evident in the construction linked corruption scandals washing over the entire political firmament in Brazil in the run up to Rio 2016 The book also shows how the personalities of those heading the IOC also meshed with the kind of Games that were held – from the anti Semite Avery Brundage who fended off some American calls to boycott the Berlin games the genteel old boy Lord Killanin to the pompous Juan Antonio Samaranch who treated the IOC like his personal fiefdom – and accorded himself status euivalent to a Head of State with similar security mandatory presidential suites and usually met with presidents kings and heads of states wherever he travelledAlong with that Goldblatt also has an eye for the delightful and the uirky not just for the greatest Thus while the achievements of Michael Phelps Michael Johnson Usain Bolt Olga Korbut and the Indian national hockey team are highlighted he also finds space to highlight stories of human interest How at the 1964 Tokyo Games the Sri Lankan runner Karunananda lagged by 4 laps when the race was won and yet continued to finish the laps to a standing applause from the crowd – a celebration of the spirit which also won him an audience with the Emperor Or the fan mania at the same Games for swimming champion Don Schollander who then featured in Japan’s English teaching books Or the coach of the US ice hockey team that beat the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Games and then exclaimed to the President at a White House audience that “this proves our system is better than theirs”Baron de Coubertin had in mind an almost austere almost spiritual celebration of sport as a character building activity and pastime He did not really intend his creation to become a global bureaucracy and the global norm in sport Nor did he envisage the Olympic Games to become a place for collective delirium or the stage for battles of race gender class or international relations But that’s what they have become The most important thing to know about this book is that it is not a sports book despite the title It is not a review of the great Olympic moments and athletes although a few do make the pages but rather a history of the modern Olympic movement the politics behind each Olympics and what the future of the Olympics might look like This could possibly be disappointing for many readers I know for awhile I was a bit disappointed myself but I got so wrapped up in the book that after awhile it didn't matterThe book covers mainly the Summer Olympics Winter Olympics make a few appearances from the first modern games in 1896 to the weeks leading up to Rio in 2016 It covers the evolution of the games from a gathering of sporting gentlemen from Western Europe to the commercial and multicultural event it is today The good the bad and the ugly find their place on the pages Here you will find that every Olympics has pretty much been chaos right up until the opening ceremony most have been in danger of not happening at all that politics and protest have always been a part of the games and that the IOC has always been corrupt It is a fascinating way to look at world history in the 20th century and how political and social movements were reflected in and by the Olympics Its a long read and can sometimes be a little boring but if you are interested in going behind the scenes of the Olympics I would highly recommend it It will definitely make you see them in a different light

Hardcover  Ù The Games PDF/EPUB ¼
  • Hardcover
  • 528 pages
  • The Games
  • David Goldblatt
  • English
  • 23 June 2016
  • 9780393292770