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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insight into how to overcome the aftermath of war., 31 May 2011
This review is from: The Austerity Olympics: When the Games Came to London in 1948 (Paperback)
What an excellent read.To discover how England overcame the hardship of rebuilding a war torn country and the financial problems we were going through,yet still stage a major sporting event,is incredible.I fully recommend everyone who has an interest in sport,especially the 2012 Olympics,to read this book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They really did do things differently back then, 13 Nov 2011
By 
S. Cryer (Cardiff, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Austerity Olympics: When the Games Came to London in 1948 (Paperback)
Absolutely superb telling of the story of the 1948 Games, perfectly balancing historical records of events and decisions with first-hand accounts of those who experienced them. There are plenty of amusing and jaw-dropping moments at the determination and naivety of those involved, from track cycling in the dark to building a boxing ring on top of the swimming pool, to the vast amount of wine the French team brought over with them!

Excellently researched and written, this is one of the most enjoyable non-fiction books I've picked up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1948 Olympics revisited, 20 April 2012
By 
len michell (st. mary's, isles of scilly United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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In this year of the London Olympics the book is a well written and well researched account of the 1948 games in London. Interesting to compare much more basic facilities in war-torn Britain with today's far larger and grander occasion - but in both cases the country fared well in the preparation, and hopefully this year's home medal tally will far exceed those in 1948. A very good read indeed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read!, 20 Aug 2012
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I bought this book having seen it advertised and because Great Britain hosted the 2012 Olympics.This is a great book, very easy to read and giving one an absolutely fascinating view into life as it was after WWII, not just what the 1948 Olympics were like and how they were organised, but also what sort of people we were back then. It ought to be compulsory reading especially for any athlete and any child considering taking up sport, as it shows what good sportsmanship should be like. There are also some interesting facts in the book; for instance, the tennis player Andre Agassi's father competed in the 1940 Olympics and also what happened to some of the athletes that competed. I enjoyed it very much and have recommended it to several friends.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Torch bearer, 19 Aug 2012
By 
Quiverbow (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
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Many might bemoan the rampant commercialism of sport, particularly the brand led Olympics, but don't be fooled into thinking this onslaught of sponsorship is relatively new. When London offered to host the XIV Olympiad in 1948 - though only the twelfth to be staged, the '40 and '44 cancelled events are still listed in the numbers - a variety of companies such as Nescafe, Guinness, Ovaltine and the perennial Coca Cola were all eager to participate (and for 250, anyone could use the five-ringed logo). Then, as now, an event as big as the Olympics needed corporate money. The difference, as Janie Hampton's splendid history of the event shows, is that everything was more open and available. Unlike the financially driven sports of today, the outside caterers were given a 25s (1.25) a day budget per athlete to supply them with three meals; some managed to do it for 17s (65p) and saved everyone money. Morals were obviously different then.

The `austerity games' had their share of volunteers, many of them on holiday from school. (One offered to work the night shift in the hospitality lounge knowing the phone wouldn't ring in the night so spent his time asleep, picking up a couple of hours extra pay, a free breakfast and bus pass for his trouble.) The athletes themselves also had a hard time of it, having to bring their own towels, but they were given a packed lunch for the day consisting of a cheese sandwich, an apple and an egg, and Hampton manages to convey how much certain current sports people are pampered and cosseted (and I don't mean athletes, cyclists, swimmers, etc. who are still very much approachable).

Reading this does make you wonder what it was like and whether the openness of everything was better. Fortunately, the author has managed to include the memories and anecdotes of 117 people who were there, most of which makes fascinating reading, as does what happened with the events themselves; Stan Cox ended up running 26 laps in the 10,000metres, as the bell ringer was watching eventual winner Emil Zátopek, so finished seventh instead of fifth, all without complaint. Other competitors went to their event straight from work, something unthinkable nowadays. The laugh out loud moments include the way female competitors were tested for their gender, and one can imagine the replies when questioned with, "If you're a woman, what's that?" Don't smirk, as the answer is on page 144.

There is also much to be learned from this book. Did you realise that on the same day as the Olympics started, Stoke Mandeville hospital held a sports day for disabled service people and in doing so paved the way for what was to become the Paralympics. The `Austerity Games' also made a profit of 29,420 (equivalent to 905,000 today) but the government demanded tax be paid on it. Some things never change. There was also controversy in the selection of the person to light the flame. Many thought Sydney Wooderson, holder of the mile world record at the time, would be the man (even the Duke of Edinburgh was mentioned) but it went to the unknown John Mark, who had been selected six months beforehand.

Whilst research for for the '48 Olympics was undoubtedly easier than that for the '08 event, Hampton's take on the first post war meeting is far superior simply because it covers all sports. Yes, athletics may be the meat but swimming, equestrian, cycling, wrestling, shooting, sailing, etc. all have their pages. There are some good photographs too.

Despite the recent war, rationing and bombsites in abundance, it does make it appear to be a more innocent age and makes you wonder what it would have been like to have been around. However, was it a better time? Only those that were there can answer that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars how far we have come since 1948 - and the joy of sport remains, 9 Aug 2012
By 
markr - See all my reviews
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This is a fascinating account of the Olympic games held in London in 1948. Each of the events is covered, focusing on the personal stories of the competitors. The tales of those who did not win medals are often at least as interesting as those who triumphed. This is as much a work of social history as it an account of sport, and is clear reminder of how far we have come from 1948 until now. Many of the British competitors, all amateurs of course, still subject to strict rationing, had not eaten steak for nearly 10 years, and many of the younger ones had never seen an orange.

The competitors had to provide their own shorts and equipment was in short supply - the French football team did not have a football to train with and a British high jumper used to train by jumping washing lines.

Social class, racism and sexism still pervaded many aspects of society, and of course the games reflected that to some extent.

Women could not compete in races of over 200m, as it was deemed too dangerous. The equestrian competitors all had to be commissioned officers ( one competitors was stripped of his medal when it was discovered he was a sergeant) , and the South African olympic team was all white. However, as the author makes clear, this was the world in 1948 - only 3 years after the end the world war when much of the world was still reeling from its effects. The joy of sport, the friendships, rivalries and human kindness which developed, and the sense of optimism that Britain could still put on a show shine through this charming , informative and highly readable book.

Highly recommended - for readers with, or without, a passion for sport.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Inspiration, 27 Dec 2010
By 
Mr. M. Rogan - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Austerity Olympics: When the Games Came to London in 1948 (Paperback)
This book was a great insight and inspiration to us as we wrote Britain and the Olympic Games: Past, Present, Legacy. Janie Hampton does a very skilled job in that she writes with real detail, and yet avoids this detail bogging her down. Certainly recommended!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Austerity Olympics, 5 Aug 2013
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As my husband and I can both remember the 1948 Olympics we found this a really interesting book with great photos.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Austerity games, 4 Jan 2013
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Fascinating book which I had read so bought this as a Christmas present for a friend. He also really enjoyed it
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5.0 out of 5 stars A tonic for the (returned) troops, 1 Jan 2013
By 
Bob Sherunkle (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Cards on the table: I was a 2012 sceptic, apart from pleasure at the achievements of Team GB and admiration of the Paralympians. I was therefore intrigued to find out how the 1948 Olympics succeeded on a shoestring budget, with the memories of world war still fresh.

This book gives an absorbing and highly informative account of the 1948 Games. (We learn that the whole event cost less than 1 million, and made a profit!) The main themes are as follows:
-Political issues were rampant. Understandably, Germany and Japan weren't invited. The USSR thought the Games were a capitalist plot (Russia hadn't taken part since the Tsarist days). However, the countries who were there got on remarkably well. This may have been the last major sporting event in which Korea had one national team, as partition occurred shortly after.
-The privations of war were everywhere, in terms of both general facilities (e.g. swimmers having to train at municipal pools full of families) and in the critical issue of food. One of the volunteers said of Fanny Blankers-Koen, "It was amazing that she did so well, considering how under-nourished most Europeans still were. They only had a small chance against the well-fed athletes from the United States." However, the book quotes several cases where the well-supplied generously shared with those who were worse off.
-Due, probably, to the post-war lack of money, the level of organisation often fell short. Two examples:
As host nation, we were nearly without a flag in the opening parade. We were saved only because a young volunteer had had the foresight to bring a very tatty spare with him. (This was Roger Bannister, then aged 19.)
The decathlon gold medallist had to do his last three events at night in a deserted, unlit Wembley Stadium, finishing with a 1500 metre run at 10.30 pm.
-GB competitors got precious little help from their employers. One athlete described his employer's attitude as follows: "He was delighted that I had represented Britain, but I got no time off for it." Sculling gold medallist Bert Bushnell put it more forcibly: "I didn't get paid to have days off, and my employers considered I was a bloody nuisance. They didn't want to take any credit for it." (He worked as a marine engineer!)

Janie Hampton gives full treatment to the star turns, such as Fanny Blankers-Koen and Emil Zatopek. The photographs of these, like all the photos, are perfectly chosen. Blankers-Koen is shown just taking off the ground to clear a hurdle; you can see that she is currently last, due to her bad start, but utterly determined to win. Zatopek, by contrast, is shown looking utterly exhausted, which (as one of his compatriots eloquently confirms) was his usual appearance when running.

The book finishes with "what did they do afterwards" for the main players both on and off piste. Of just as much interest, Hampton mentions the destination of bit-part players - one wrestler became the J Arthur Rank gong-beater, another ended up as Oddjob in the Bond films! This is typical of the endless fascinating detail she includes.

The last word should go to high-jumper Dorothy Tyler, who had already represented GB in 1936:
"The easy-going atmosphere was very different from the formalities of Berlin. It came as a great relief after the war and provided a true sign that it was all over. Sport took on a new glow, it was like the sun finally coming out."
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The Austerity Olympics: When the Games Came to London in 1948
The Austerity Olympics: When the Games Came to London in 1948 by Janie Hampton (Paperback - 25 May 2009)
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