Since the Olympics are starting this Friday (go Italy!), I thought I’d review two great books I’ve recently read on the topic.
The first deals with the fallout from preparations in Brazil for the past 2014 World Cup and this year’s Olympics.
Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, The Olympics, and the Struggle for Democracy
by Dave Zirin
If you want to just enjoy the Olympics as a spectacle of global athleticism, don’t read this book. It cuts straight through to the destructive potential of world tournaments like the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic, following their devastating effects on Brazil’s already corrupt government and residents of urban slums in Rio. Scandals in this year’s Olympics continue to this day, with warnings of insufficient security and unfinished facilities, so this is very much a developing story.
The second book tells the story of a team of American rowers who famously ended up winning gold at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Aside from being a great underdog story – following nine regular American Joe’s as they beat Adolf Hitler’s rowing team – The Boys In The Boat has a quiet power to it that I was mesmerized by. Before the roaring success of the final Olympics chapters, the story winds quietly around main character Joe Rantz as he tries to make ends meet, rebuild a family for himself after his has dissolved, and still show up for morning after ice-cold morning of rowing practice.
I enjoyed both books tremendously and am looking forward to taking some time to do a little additional Olympics reading this weekend. Some of my potential picks are below:
Dancing With The Devil In The City Of God: Rio De Janeiro On The Brink
By Juliana Barbassa
The Games: A Global History Of The Olympics
by David Goldblatt
Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics
by Jeremy Schaap
Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith
by Gabrielle Douglas and Michelle Burford
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