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Something in the Air: American Passion and Defiance in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics Paperback – April 1, 2011
The Age of Daredevils
At the dawn of the 20th century, a small but determined band of barrel-jumpers risked their lives in one of the world’s most wondrous waterfalls. Only a few survived. Learn More
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Examples: He credits Ray Norton with a "100 meter time of 9.3 seconds". Nope, 100 yards.
He says Jim Ryun was 5 meters behind Keino at the 800 mark in the 1,500 and says "the race had gotten away from him." Yes, it had - but because he was actually 18 meters back, according to Track and Field News's report on the race. Five meters would not have been a big gap, as a sportswriter surely should know.
He writes at length about Dick Fosbury's winning performance in the high jump and says that the first marathoner, Mamo Wolde, was just entering the stadium as Fosbury began his approach. His point: The appearance of the marathon winner usually got huge applause but did not in this case because of the crowd's focus on Fosbury. But Hoffer goes on to describe the reaction of Kenny Moore, the American who finished over 9 minutes behind Wolde. He says Moore was coming on the track when Fosbury jumped and reacted with delight to the crowd's cheering for Fosbury's leap. So... Fosbury's run-up took over 9 minutes?Read more ›
My main criticism of Hoffer's book is that it is quite uneven. There are some strong parts, specifically the chapters about Fosbury, Smith and Carlos. On the other hand, his coverage of Beamon and Foreman did not provide nearly the depth and dimension that I expected and was a letdown when compared to the previously mentioned athletes. By far the most enlightening part of the book centered on Avery Brundage, an American who was head of the IOC. Brundage tried to maintain iron-fisted control of the Games and keep absolute order in what was the first Olympics in a developing nation --- and before the vast commercialization that the Olympics have become today.
Overall, Hoffer's book is a solid contribution, but has enough holes to only be 4 stars. It is a quick read and contains enough back stories to be worth the time.
The tensions of the time were very apparent in sports, with the civil rights and women's movements gained velocity by the second, it seemed. Take a changing society, and mix it with an amateur athletic bureaucracy that didn't accept change easily, and you have the makings for fascinating confrontation.
That was the case for the 1968, particularly when it came to the Summer Olympics in Mexico City. And that's the backdrop for Richard Hoffer's frequently fascinating book, "Something in the Air."
The American Olympic team goes under the microscope here, and Hoffer must have been filled with glee as he went through the cast of characters that converged south of border that fall. A book like this relies on the athletes and the stories, and Hoffer found a bunch of good ones.
The author focuses on the United States track and field team. We had sprinters like Tommie Smith and John Carlos, forever remembered for their wordless protest about conditions back home while on the podium during the National Anthem at the medal ceremony. Gloved fists in the air and heads down, it became a remarkable moment almost instantly. The two sprinters had been involved in talk of a boycott of the Games beforehand; their attendance, performance and action proved much more effective as support for their cause. Smith and Carlos were great stories in their own right, overcoming much to rank as the world's best.
The other stories on the track team are good too.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've used this book in several courses of Race, Sport, & American Culture. A wonderful insider's view to one of the Nation's most storied Olympics.Published 17 months ago by KLASSE06
This book was recommended by a friend or I might have missed reading it. It is a good read about the Mexico Olympics with a stunning disclosure about an atrocity committed by the... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Robert
1968 was arguably the most tumultuous year of our nation. All of our social changes and craziness played out on a world stage in Mexico City. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Brian A. Foster
A great book. I lived through those times, and the book changed my attitude
about the events. At the time, I, like a lot of americans, thought the atheletes
were... Read more
My review was rejected and will not be published.
My only response is the following. If my submission is not satisfactory, or does not make the grade, PLEASE DISCONTINUE... Read more
Well lets start out by counting how many political things were happenning that summer that had nothing to do with the actual sport of competing with other nations best track and... Read morePublished on October 19, 2009 by Alan M. Mandel