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The Austerity Olympics: When the Games Came to London in 1948 Paperback – 25 May 2009

4.8 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd (25 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845134230
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845134235
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 881,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘An enthralling account’

(Independent)

‘A fascinating book… researched with an awesome thoroughness’

(Daily Telegraph)

‘Hampton’s excellent book should be compulsory reading for everyone involved in the 2012 London Olympics’ Critic's Choice

(Daily Mail)

Review

'The tale of the Games is told here with spirit and touching humour.'

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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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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By Quiverbow TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 19 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
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.
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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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