Goldblatt and Acton deliver a performance of greater poise even than the 1912 Swedish Ladies gymnasts (p. 175) in balancing top pub facts, politics, history and technique on sports familiar and forgotten. By turns informative, funny and surprising this book will entirely change the way I watch the olympics. My grandfather was the coach of a West Indies badminton olympic team sometime in the '60s so I turned to those pages first. Turns out a shuttlecock can be served at 260kmh - faster than a tennis ball, and that a Badminton trick shot artist held the stage at the London Palladium for a 38 week run in the 30s. There is so much we should all know about sport. This is where to find it. BTW this was the favourite Christmas present for no. 3 son this year, but is passed around the family. Joe
This is a brilliant book. I don't know which bit to praise most! Its really funny (I defy you not to laugh at the story of Hugh Forgie, the great badminton star of the 1930s - apparently including badminton on ice and two Hollywood movies 'Flying Feathers' 'ValleyOops!' which I now desperately want to see). Its clever - its central argument that, given the intensity applied to every Olympic sport, they are all worth watching if you understand them is true, (I've been persuaded to watch rowing, a sport I have had no interest in after Goldblatt and Acton explained that the race is designed to drain every last once of energy from the rowers so that ' if they time it correctly the Final stroke of the race is the last they are able to pull', that makes it compelling doesn't it? And its also just plain informative - I know understand handball and get why Judo is taken so seriously. Trust me, this summer, if you read this book, you will have a different perspective on the games to everyone else and I guarantee you will be quoting it at length.
A book full of interesting stuff about the Olympics. The book goes through all the sports and tells you what to look out for and gives you a brief history of the events. Great for the sports expert and novice
To be honest I'm not a big fan of sport but it's hard not to get drawn in to the huge whirlwind of the Olympics, so every four years I find I'm watching on TV (often perplexed) some sporting activity in The Greatest Show on Earth and wishing I could make a bit more sense of it.
Fortunately, the best possible book to accompany armchair participation has come to my assistance and is highly recommended to anyone who's in the same condition of ignorance as I am! 'How to Watch the Olympics' not only explains the business end of the sporting action - with helpful diagrams - but provides some excellent context for each game, giving the history, notable moments and top winners, all conveyed with an underlying sense of the authors' passions and wonderfully wry humour.
Get a copy now so you can swot up on fascinating facts in advance and impress your friends as you watch the Games together, or just enjoy giggling with each other at the book's photo captions.
This little tome is a great read, a great christmas gift for that difficult sport mad relative and simply must be sitting in your toilet for dipping into come July 2012... Goldblatt and Acton are both snappy writers, and in particular everyone who is interested in football or politics or preferably both (aren't we all?) should already have 'The Ball is Round'. Here we get to know all about the sports we know nothing about (the subtleties of handball and graeco roman wrestling anyone?) plus the history, dirt and trivia from those we love (I especially fell for the historical background to synchronised swimming). All those great drug cheats, all the various ways doves and pigeons have been tortured, and all the iconic and cool figures are here. This is a book by authors who love their sports, but also love a laugh.
I don't think many of us could profess to being experts on each and every Olympic sport's rules, origins, tactics and key contenders. That's where this book comes in particularly useful for the armchair spectator (which I am, mostly). It is constantly by my side as I watch the vast array of sports on the TV/internet. The book contains quaint drawings highlighting the various rules, positions and tactics of the individual sports.
You couldn't fairly call any of the backgrounds to the sports histories or main protagonists extensive, but it is just enough to enhance the viewing experience, and definitely whets the appetite to find out more about the sports that interest you - as the subtitle says, 'an instant initiation into every sport'.
As the fog of the Olympics descends, this book offers a route-map through. Clear and informative, it introduces all the Olympic sports with humour, insight and anecdote. I'm not a natural sports fan, but reading this (and it's great for dipping in and out of) makes me feel as if I have a handle on the whole event. Would recommend to those who think they know their Decathlon and Greco-Roman wrestling rules, or to those, like myself, attracted by sports like the gymnastics with the twirly whirly ribbons (rhythmic gymnastics p183). Oh, and a great resource for kids preparing the ubiquitous "Olympic projects" at school.
An excellent book for sporty and non sporty people alike. An easy to read and follow book giving lots of essential information about all the Olympic sports whether at the event or watching on TV. A winner for all those interested and knowledgeable and even the not so interested and knowledgeable but want to know something, especially if going to watch a not so well known sport. Lots of facts, rules, scoring, who to look for and generally lots of information on each sport An excellent buy