Sports journalist Davis recounts an influential and largely forgotten chapter in Olympic lore.
As the Summer Olympics, and all the attendant pomp and circumstance, prepare to return to London in 2012, this book serves as a reminder of the event's less-glamorous origins and of a race that helped change its history. Tracing the beginnings of both the modern games and the modern marathon race, Davis focuses on three runners: pre-race favorite Tom Longboat, a Native American running for Canada, the largely unknown Italian pastry cook Dorando Pietri, and the scrappy Irish-American Johnny Hayes. The race became a sensation after a controversial finish, sparking a marathon craze and helping establish the Olympics as the headline-making international gala it is today. Davis has a great story to work with, and he does a solid job bringing it to life. He is assisted by the colorful characters of the athletes, Longboat in particular, and others, including United States Olympic Committee member James Sullivan, whose repeated claims of poor sportsmanship by the British hosts helped stir controversy and interest, and Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle, whose reporting on the race helped turn it into instant legend and Pietri into an international star. The author argues convincingly that if the 1908 Games had not been a success, the Olympics might not have continued and certainly would not have taken their current form. The same can also be said for the marathon, now a major event around the world, whose distance was first established by the 1908 Olympic course.
A valuable addition to the history of the Olympics and distance running.
DAVID DAVIS is a contributing writer at Los Angeles Magazine and a contributing editor for SportsLetter. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Smithsonian Magazine, The New York Times and The Best American Sports Writing anthology. He lives in Glassell Park, CA.
Davis has provided a fascinating and detailed story of not just the 1908 Olympic Marathon, but of the early days of marathoning, social stigmas attached to the pastime, and an... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Benjamin
What a great read and much detail! I liked the product very much! It was exactly what I wanted. Product was delivered fast, was as described and received professional service!Published 21 months ago by Christopher L. Mitchell