Synopses & Reviews
The enthralling history of one of the most controversial and infamous Olympic Games ever staged, replete with doping scandal and international uproar
In the summer that saw the first successful zeppelin flight, a 140 acre site of scrubland in West London was transformed into the White City, which housed a state-of-the-art stadium built for the first London Olympics. The Olympics were organized by volunteers in just 18 months and at a fraction of the cost of the modern Olympics, and yet, just as today, the sport was overshadowed by doping scandals—with accusations that the Canadian favorite for the marathon had been dosed with strychnine—and caused international uproar. The ferocious competitiveness of a U.S. team dominated by New York Irish Americans led to a succession of "scandals" culminating in the historic marathon when Italian confectioner baker Dorando Pietri's heroic efforts at the limits of exhaustion so entranced onlookers that track officials helped him across the finish line. This delightful social and sports history provides a thought-provoking contrast to the 2012 Olympic Games.
"Captures the many ironies of that shambolic occasion and wittily evokes the amateurish spirit that pervaded the early Olympic movement." —Times
In 1908, a group of volunteers took just 18 months to transform a 140-acre site of scrubland in West London into the White City, which housed the first ever Olympic Games in London. Though the differences between todays games and those a century ago are many, as this delightful social and sporting history shows, just as today the sport was overshadowed by doping scandals and international uproar. The ferocious competitiveness of a US team dominated by New York Irish Americans led to a succession of scandals culminating in the historic marathon when Italian runner Dorando Pietris heroic efforts at the limits of exhaustion so entranced on-lookers that track officials helped him across the finish line. Illustrated with more than 70 contemporary images this is a thought-provoking look at one of historys most raucous sporting events.
About the Author
Rebecca Jenkins is the author of Fanny Kemble.