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The British Olympics: Britain's Olympic Heritage 1612-2012 (Played in Britain) [Paperback]

Martin Polley , Simon Inglis
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 17.99
Price: 15.11 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

12 Sep 2011 Played in Britain
History records that the Olympic Games originated in ancient Greece nearly three thousand years ago, died out around 393 AD, and were triumphantly reborn in 1896, in the Greek capital of Athens. Rather less well known is how, during the intervening centuries, an assortment of British writers, romantics, sportsmen and visionaries helped nurture that revival. Indeed, as sports historian Dr Martin Polley argues in this, the 12th book in the acclaimed Played in Britain series, our nation's fascination with all things Olympian has played a pivotal role in shaping the Games as we know them today, culminating in London becoming in 2012 the first city ever to stage a third modern Olympiad. Consider, for example, that the first published use of the word 'Olympian' in the English language dates from around 1590. Its author? William Shakespeare. And that the first games of the post-classical era to adopt the formal title 'Olympick' took place in the Cotswolds village of Chipping Campden in 1612. It was an English traveller, Richard Chandler, who rediscovered the lost site of Olympia in 1766, and a Shropshire doctor, William Penny Brookes, who, in 1850, founded the Much Wenlock Olympian Games, an annual community festival that inspired Pierre de Coubertin to revive the Games at an international level. Other Olympic festivals surfaced in London (to celebrate Queen Victoria's accession), in Liverpool, and in the north-east town of Morpeth, while the words 'Olympic' and 'Olympian' became steadily more ingrained in the popular imagination throughout the Victorian era. Britain's Olympic heritage gained added momentum in the 20th century. At White City in 1908, London built the world's first modern, purpose-built Olympic stadium, while in 1948 London stepped in to save the Games by offering Wembley Stadium. Also in the late 1940s, at Stoke Mandeville hospital in Buckinghamshire, the modern Paralympics were born when sporting contests were organised for injured servicemen. Thus the 2012 Games represent the culmination of over four hundred years of British enthusiasm and ingenuity; an attachment that has left in its wake a trail of fascinating stories, characters, sites, buildings and artefacts. Leading the reader on a marathon journey, The British Olympics charts them all, making this a vital and entertaining source for anyone with an interest in the Games, in sport, and in the wider narrative of Britain's social and cultural heritage.

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The British Olympics: Britain's Olympic Heritage 1612-2012 (Played in Britain) + The Austerity Olympics: When the Games Came to London in 1948
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Product details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: English Heritage; 1st edition (12 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848020589
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848020580
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 21.1 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 261,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'impeccably researched' -- Simon Redfern The Independent 20111218 'The trickle of books to mark next summer in east London will soon become a flood but so far easily the most vivid and exuberant is Martin Polley's The British Olympics 1612-2012 (GBP17.99), latest impeccable and glistening little gem from Simon Inglis's occasional and lustrous English Heritage series.' -- Frank Keating The Guardian 20111129 'The British Olympics charts a fascinating tale and is a vital and entertaining source for anyone interested in the Games, in sport and in Britain's wider cultural history.' The Birmingham Press 20111108 'part of the excellent Played in Britain series...Polley pieces together an enthralling narrative showing how the British nurtured their love of sport' -- Calvin Shulman The Times 20111203

About the Author

Martin Polley is Senior Lecturer in Sport History at the University of Southampton.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
'The British Olympics' is the ultimate compendium of all things 'olympic' both with an upper and lower case O in Britain. With chapters on The Cotswold Olimpicks, The Liverpool Olympic Festivals and The Morpeth Olympic Games, the book encapsulates the truly whole story of British Olympism, uncovering many aspects unknown to the majority of British sports fans. Aside from a fascinating subject matter, an additional advantage of this book is Polley's style of writing. I am lucky enough to have once been a student of his and he writes with the same passion and depth of knowledge with which he delivers his university lectures. An excellent addition to the Played In Britain portfolio.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Clare
This book is an excellent addition to the already impressive English Heritage Played in Britain series, devoted to Britain's sporting heritage. In addition to the wonderfully illustrative aspect of the book (a hallmark of the publishers), the story of Olympic revival spearheaded by the British is eloquently told. If you like to read about the weird and wonderful, the eccentric and the inspired, then you will not be disappointed. What is very evident is just how the revival shaped the evolution of sport, not just in Britain, but across the world.

I would highly recommend that you read this book. It is thoroughly entertaining and informative, and one of those books that you will keep revisiting time and time again for those 'wee gems'.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a mine of information both written and as far as pictorial evidence is concerned, a must for anybody dealing with Olympic history and its ramifications in Britain.
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By Jody
The British Olympics bridges the ancient and modern Olympics written with humour, style and history.
It was amazing to discover the rural festivals and games were so strongly connected.
You don't need to be a sports fanatic to find this a fascinating journey through the world of the Olympics.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The British Olympics 28 Aug 2012
By Philip
This book makes the success of the 2012 games success understandable as a natural continuation of 400 years of Britain's contribution to the Olympic movement. From Much Wenlock to Liverpool and the Cotswold games its a well researched journey into the importance of sport to past generations. It covers a range of regional games over the centuries, the British influence on De Coubertin and detailed background on the two previous London games. The quirky facts add interest and build up the sense of understanding what these assorted games comprised. A fascinating read to make sense of Danny Boyle's green fields.
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