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How to Watch the Olympics: The Essential Guide to the Rules, Statistics, Heroes, and Zeroes of Every Sport Paperback – May 29, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for How to Watch the Olympics
 
“Goldblatt and Acton offer information from the ground up about every sport in the Summer Games—they explain why it’s worth watching canoeing and field hockey—along with loads of facts about the rules, the scoring, and even the equipment specs.”
—Louis Menand, The New Yorker
 
“Rich in intriguing background . . . a wonderfully entertaining, informative read, one that caught me incessantly putting ‘Did you know. . .’ questions to my friends. . . . Stories, after all, are the foundation for why we watch sports in the first place. It is our good fortune to join these storytellers for the ride.”
Christian Science Monitor
 
“Delicious facts sprint through How to Watch the Olympics. It’s by a pair of cheeky Brit sportswriters, David Goldblatt and Johnny Acton, and sorry to sound like an infomercial, but if you only buy one book on the Olympics, buy this. I’m keeping my copy next to the remote control, from the opening ceremony to the final sign-off.”
Boston Globe
 
“You can rely on TV commentators to help you, or you might wander through the pages of this helpful, comprehensive guide. Want to know what to look for in the opening and closing ceremonies? Why should you care about archery or rowing, not just gymnastics or swimming? The answers are here.”
Los Angeles Times
 
“The authors clearly and engagingly explain the rules, competitors, and strategies of all the sports you'll be watching during this summer’s Olympics. Whether it’s archery or kayaking, synchronized swimming or the marathon, this book tells you everything you need to know to converse intelligently about the games.”
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
 
“No slapdash Olympic cash-in, this work distill the basics, tactics, and traditions of each sport without sounding like the tax code. While there’s plenty of facts for the Olympic geek, How To Watch the Olympics also presents a witty and informed account of the politics, history and controversies of the Olympics. At the center of it are the athletes—underdogs turned champions, honorable failures, dopers and cheaters. Authors David Goldblatt and Johnny Acton made it their mission to penetrate the hype and spectacle of the games to celebrate the spirit that’s kept the torch aflame for more than 100 years.”
—Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

“Even Olympic-watching pros have to be impressed with this handy, one-volume guide to every sport for couch potatoes to become instant authorities on whatever they’re watching. Where else will you get 12 splendid, simple pages telling you everything you could ever want to know about fencing? It goes without saying, of course, that foil matches are thoroughly delineated from those with the épée and sabre.”
—Buffalo News

“This handbook, with its fast facts and useful overviews of the many events, plus its thumbnail portraits of past Olympic performers, should rest comfortably on the easy chair, ready for quick access as the TV broadcasts commence.”
—BookPage

About the Author

David Goldblatt is a sports columnist, radio commentator, and the author of The Ball Is Round: A Global History of Soccer.

 

Johnny Acton is a writer specializing in obscure nuggets of information—ranging from pickling food (Preserved ) to the history of balloons (The Man Who Touched the Sky).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (May 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780143121879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143121879
  • ASIN: 0143121871
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an interesting combination of information, including:

- 2012 Summer Olympic Guide: Where will each event be held, what days, how many athletes, how many "golds up for grabs", and who are the main contenders?
- Sports History: Interesting tidbits of knowledge, such as a history of the Badminton shuttlecock around the world ("In ancient China Ti Jian Zi was the shuttlecock game, in which players used their feet to keep the sophisticated feathered shuttlecock aloft.")
- Technical details of each event: In the gymnastics vault, what is a "Twisting Yurshenko" exactly? See the answer, with diagram, on page 177.
- The Olympic history to each event: For example, Table Tennis didn't become an Olympic sport until 1988, partially due to opposition by the founder of the ITTF, Ivor Montagu...

Thanks to all the historical and technical information included, the knowledge here will not expire after the closing ceremony is complete. The book also includes a nice set of appendices, with such information as discontinued Olympic sports (Tug of War, anyone?), and a snapshot of each of the 26 previous Olympic games (The first Olympic flame was at the games in Amsterdam in 1928). A comprehensive index is also included.

As you might guess, this is not really a book to read cover-to-cover in one sitting. However, if you're getting ready to watch some Equestrianism (at Greenwich Park, 27 July to 9 August), for example, and want to brush up on both the basics and the finer points, reading that chapter would be an excellent place to start.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was not what I was expecting. I thought I'd get a book filled with stats. But this is a wonderfully, witty and very funny book. It has that most delicious Brit sense of humor. It is such a delight to read that I was up till past midnight reading it. Plus it gives all sorts of interesting data and factoids about the Olympics - just my cup of tea.
Maybe I'll get the Complete Book .. just for the dry facts. But I would recommend this one for fun and as a gift for any Olympics geek.
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Format: Paperback
I was not planning to go to London, but I love to watch the games. I have been frustrated that the network powers show the same 3-4 sports (track and field, gymnastics, mostly womens games; swimming, bike racing). There are over 20 sports, and I think these games are a great time to learn about some of them, but not by watching tv!

This book teaches about all the sports, including the interesting but less covered sports, like archery, badminton, equestrian events. I have also used it to get other people interested in lesser known events that interest me :). This year, I watched water polo for the first time, after reading about it.

This book is small by mighty. The authors give a brief history of the sport, and a separate brief history of the sport in the Olympics. I appreciate that the authors treat the women as legitimate athletes, and don't put the women's records and courses in parentheses. They also provide women-centric factoids as a matter of course in the text(first regular women's event? swimming).

A brief description is provided of the basics of performing each sport, and judging or winning the events.

It it conveniently organized alphabetically by sport, but includes the sports schedule within the games on the first page of each entry. So if you are wondering about Olympic table tennis, one need only find it in the alpha organized book, and find out when it will be played. (If you have access to a paid subscription TV service, you can see just about anything on the web, live or after the fact).

I bought this book several weeks ago (at B&N regular store) and have been thumbing it since then. I know the games have already begun, but I think it is worth the price for the next 2 weeks.

I give the book 5 stars because I have no major complaints; occasionally the authors use terms I don't know (are they british?) but not often enough to ding them (like: what is a swimming kit?).
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Format: Paperback
I purchased this book a few days after the start of the Games and found it to be a fantastic reference for the remainder of the 2012 Summer Olympics. Simple, yet detailed information on every sport even allowed me to enjoy some events that I would have otherwise ignored. I finally have a better understanding on the indoor cycling events (pursuit) and rowing (sculls). This book also proved to be handy at answering many of the random questions that popped up while watching events (like "I wonder what temperature the pool water is?").

I am hoping a similar book is published prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics so I can finally understand (and maybe appreciate) the sport of curling.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Easy read, great content. Good for those who don't know a lot as well as those who are already more knowledgeable about the olympics.
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