Cover image for The Olympics, a history of the modern games
The Olympics, a history of the modern games
Guttmann, Allen.
Personal Author:
Second edition.
Publication Information:
Urbana : University of Illinois Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
x, 214 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm.
The baron's dream -- Growing pains and increasing success -- The games reach maturity -- The most controversial Olympics -- Destruction and recovery -- In the shadow of the Cold War -- The era of (relative) good feelings -- Organizational strains -- A time of troubles -- The era of the boycott -- Calgary and Seoul, but not Pyongyang -- Juan Antonio Samaranch as CEO -- After the Cold War.
Subject Term:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV721.5 .G85 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
GV721.5 .G85 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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In a thoroughly revised and updated study, the author of Women's Sports and Games and Empires traces the history of the modern Olympics from 1896 to 2000, contrasting the ideal of the game with the often politicized reality.In a thoroughly revised and updated study, the author of Women's Sports and

Author Notes

Allen Guttmann, a professor of English at Amherst College, is the author of Women's Sports, Games and Empires, From Ritual to Record: The Nature of Modern Sports, and other books. He received the first President's Award for Sports Studies from the International Olympic Committee in 2001

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Athletics, that gratifying font of humor and entertainment, gets more erudite scrutiny in the innovative Illinois History of Sport series. This fine series entry maintains standards by concentrating on the organizatonal, political, and commercial vicissitudes that have dogged the Olympic movement since its virtually single-handed revival in 1896 by Pierre de Coubertin. Anyone recently seduced into thinking--by CBS-TV's recent and repetitive use of his soft-focused visage--that he was a dreamy idealist should read Guttmann's excellent introductory chapters. The baron held some rather concrete views about who could participate: only upper-class amateurs organized into national teams--and no women, please. All but his notions about nationalism have crumbled over the decades. The author advances the tale through the vexatious times of the 1970s and 1980s, and in his summaries of the actual games, he retains those flashes of irreverence required in sports journalism. A timely tome that puts the games in proper context. ~--Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

Amherst American studies professor Guttmann ( The Games Must Go On ) rejects the contention that successive boycotts of the 1980 Moscow games by the U.S. and the 1984 Los Angeles games by the then-U.S.S.R. have politicized the Olympics. Instead, claims the author, the games were staunchly political in origin and have remained so. Guttmann regards Baron de Coubertin, their inventor, as an ardent Germanophobe and the 1936 Berlin games as merely an ad for Nazism. He cites the recent opposition of Arab states to the presence of Israel and the African states of the Union of South Africa and observes struggles between the two Chinas and the two Germanys, as well as the slaughter at Munich in 1972. While not ignoring the games proper, Guttmann ably fills in the background. Photos not seen by PW. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In the film Chariots of Fire (1981), a prejudiced Olympic official states, ``That's a matter for the committee!'' Here, Guttmann chronicles the ambitions and backroom maneuvering of the International Olympic Committee and the nationalism that is, in reality, the summer games. The author's premise is that politics have been at the foundation of the modern Olympics from its inception in Athens (1896) to Seoul (1988). Gold, silver, and bronze medals have shared the victory stand with nationalism, and have even been tarnished by arrogance, protests, terrorists, and boycotts. Although the text emphasizes the political and socioeconomic climate of the Olympics, it also contains memorable accounts of athletic competition. This book, intended for the serious nonspecialist reader, will be a valuable addition to both general and specialized collections, particularly in this Olympic year.-- Albert Spencer, Coll. of Education, Univ. of Nevada-Las Vegas (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This concise history of the modern Olympics is probably the best book of its type since John Lucas's The Modern Olympic Games (1980). It is the first volume in University of Illinois Press' new series "Illinois History of Sports short readable books directed to the general public." Guttmann's lively prose is ideal for this genre, and his explanation of Olympic governance, personalities, and controversies since 1896 is done well. He gives an excellent discussion of women's struggle for Olympic acceptance, but ignores the "femininity test" required since 1968. Overall, politics and personalites take precedence over the actual sports competition with mixed results. Guttmann remains oblivious to Elizabeth Manley's triumph in the 1988 Calgary figure skating. She upstaged the heavily promoted Debi Thomas and Katarina Witt, winning the free skate and the silver medal, which Guttmann erroneously awarded to Thomas in Women's Sports (CH, Nov'91). The book has neither footnotes nor bibliography, only a brief bibliographic essay. Portions are revised from Guttmann's The Games Must Go On (CH, Apr'84), but the narrative flows smoothly. A good concise history, suitable for its intended audience of undergraduate and general readers. M. L. Lecompte; University of Texas at Austin

Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Editionp. ix
Introduction: The Olympic Games Are More Than Gamesp. 1
1. The Baron's Dreamp. 7
2. Growing Pains and Increasing Successp. 21
3. The Games Reach Maturityp. 37
4. The Most Controversial Olympicsp. 53
5. Destruction and Recoveryp. 73
6. In the Shadow of the Cold Warp. 85
7. The Era of (Relative) Good Feelingsp. 103
8. Organizational Strainsp. 113
9. A Time of Troublesp. 125
10. The Era of the Boycottp. 141
11. Calgary and Seoul--But Not Pyongyangp. 165
12. Juan Antonio Samaranch as CEOp. 171
13. After the Cold Warp. 183
Appendixp. 195
Bibliographical Essayp. 197
Indexp. 203