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Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World Hardcover – July 1, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, July 2008: Armed with the same engaging narrative found in Clemente and When Pride Still Mattered, Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss chronicles the triumphs, tragedies, and treacheries of "the Olympics that changed the world" with Rome 1960. The same Games that announced the greatness of icons like Cassius Clay, Wilma Rudolph, and Rafer Johnson, also exposed a growing unrest between East and West, black and white, and male and female. Even the host city of Rome, Maraniss recounts, was "infused with a golden hue...an illuminating that comes with a moment of historical transition, when one era is dying and another is being born." With moving portraits of the Games's remarkable personalities woven among tales of espionage and propaganda, Rome 1960 explores an Olympics unable to fight off the troubles of the modern world. Cold War sniping and issues of social inequalities were spilling into fields and stadiums, and the face of sport was rapidly changing. History buffs and sports fans alike will appreciate Maraniss’s quiet reporting, as he deftly removes himself from a storyline that is still relevant today. --Dave Callanan

From Publishers Weekly

Overshadowed by more flamboyant or tragic Olympics, the 1960 Rome games were a sociopolitical watershed, argues journalist Maraniss (Clemente) in this colorful retrospective. The games showcased Cold War propaganda ploys as the Soviet Union surged past the U.S. in the medal tally. Steroids and amphetamines started seeping into Olympian bloodstreams. The code of genteel amateurism—one weight-lifter was forbidden to accept free cuts from a meat company—began crumbling in the face of lavish Communist athletic subsidies and under-the-table shoe endorsement deals. And civil rights and anticolonialism became conspicuous themes as charismatic black athletes—supercharged sprinter Wilma Rudolph, brash boxing phenom Cassius Clay, barefoot Ethiopian marathoner Abebe Bikila—grabbed the limelight while the IOC sidestepped the apartheid issue. Still, we're talking about the Olympics, and Maraniss can't help wallowing in the classic tropes: personal rivalries, judging squabbles, come-from-behind victories and inspirational backstories of obstacles overcome (Rudolph wins the gold, having hurdled Jim Crow and childhood polio that left her in leg braces). As usual, these Olympic stories don't quite bear up under the mythic symbolism they're weighted with (with the exception perhaps of Abebe Bikila), but Maraniss provides an intelligent context for his evocative reportage. Photos. (July)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416534075
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416534075
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.8 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #409,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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on July 3, 2008
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on July 13, 2008
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