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Susan Offner
Sound Commentary, May 2012

This book is a quick review of the modern Olympic games, beginning with the original modern games in Athens, Greece in 1986. It is organized historically, continues through the 2008 Beijing games and looks forward to the 2012 games in London. In line with this, it concludes with a comprehensive interview with Sebastian Coe, a gold-medalled Olympian who is the head of the Olympic Planning Committee for the up-coming London games.

This book provides a lively history of the games. The heroes are here—Jim Thorpe, Jesse Owens, Olga Korbut, Muhammad Ali, Nadia Comaneci, Mary Lou Retton, Mark Spitz, Carl Lewis, Greg Louganis, Michael Phelps and so many others. Their feats and triumphs are described against the background of the host cities in which each of the games was held. It celebrates the Olympics as a vehicle for promoting friendship and understanding between people of different countries. The book does not avoid some of the problems that have beset the games. The book also describes the political overtones that have always been part of the Olympics. It discusses the politically motivated boycotts of games by various countries through the years, and suggests that these are not useful either athletically or politically. And, finally, especially in the interview with Coe, it discusses the use of drugs by Olympians.

British television commentator Barry Davies offers a pleasing and thoroughly professional reading of this entertaining book. The short musical interludes featuring the Olympic anthem as well as music from the host countries add a nice touch. With the 2012 Olympic games only months away, this is an entertaining and timely listen. © 2012 Sound Commentary Read complete review

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