Synopses & Reviews
Munich 1972 tells the compelling story of the most controversial of all modern Olympiads within the turbulent context of simmering global tensions: the ongoing Cold War, political posturing between the two Germanys, seemingly endless warfare in Indochina, lingering recriminations surrounding decolonization in Africa, and, of course, the cauldron of religious and ethnic hatred known euphemistically as the Middle East Conflict. It was, of course, this last conflict that spilled over so tragically into the Munich festival, which will forever be remembered for the murder of eleven Israeli Olympians by Palestinian terrorists: a grisly episode that ruined a much-anticipated coming-out party for newly democratic West Germany and for new Munich itself, the erstwhile capital of Hitler's Nazi movement. What began as a putatively merry celebration of peaceful play and beery bonhomie turned into a tragic milestone in the signature horror of our times: political and religious terror.Crucial as the Munich Massacre is to the story of the '72 Games, however, it is by no means the only story. There was plenty of high drama in the athletic competitions as well, which were themselves hardly free of unsportsmanlike acrimony. Controversies over biased judging, commercialization, political posturing, and (above all) doping helped to make this Olympic festival very much a mirror of its contentious times.Drawing on a wealth of contemporaneous sources, including recently opened files in the German and Olympic archives, eminent historian David Clay Large offers a comprehensive exploration of the 1972 festival. He interweaves the political drama surrounding the Games with the athletic spectacle in the arena of play, itself hardly free of political controversy. Writing with flair and an eye for telling detail, Large brings to life the stories of the indelible characters who epitomized the Games, ranging from the city itself to the visionaries who brought the Games to Munich against all odds to the athletes, obscure and famous alike. With the Olympic movement in constant danger of terrorist disruption, and with the fortieth anniversary of the 1972 tragedy upon us in 2012, the Munich story is more timely than ever.
"To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany where outstanding performances by U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz and USSR gymnast Olga Korbut were overshadowed by the slaying of 11 Israeli team members by Palestinian gunmen Montana State University history professor Large (Nazi Games: The Olympics of 1936) provides a densely detailed look at what he calls 'history's first globally televised act of terrorism.' Using newly released sources, he chronologically explores the political, social, cultural, and athletic dimensions of the Games of the XX Olympiad, focusing on the hostage crisis that began on Sept. 5 when members of the Black September organization broke into the Olympic Village's Israeli living quarters, claimed hostages, and demanded the release of 236 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. The subsequent standoff and botched rescue attempt resulted in the deaths of all the captives and most of their captors. Though the deadly stalemate takes up the bulk of Large's book, and will therefore make this comprehensive take on the games appeal primarily to historians, the author doesn't forget his sports fans. While the tragedy unfolded, the games continued on, and Large devotes considerable attention to the many athletic feats and conflicts. However, while the author's detached reporting style works well in terms of relating the story, it fails to inject emotion into the most significant elements of this tragic history. Photos. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.