Top positive review
Worthy and Interesting
on 22 September 2012
This book is of course particularly interesting in the light of the 2012 London Olympics but the similarities are greatly outweighed by the differences. True, there were some initial 'naysayers' in both cases, but the 2012 Olympics were far better organised.
The author has obviously put a large amount of work and meticulous research into this worthy volume. He makes one or two mistakes, for example confusing squash and racquets, and saying that JWHT Douglas was at Fettes (he was at Felsted), but this is more than made up for by the mass of facts and detail.
Arguably it's a bit too detailed. It becomes a bit turgid in parts, like reports of school sports days, though the description of the marathon is good. It also sheds light on some fascinating aspects. Various people competed in very different sports. There were sports like tug of war which would certainly not be included now. Sometimes countries were represented by two or more teams. The games were hindered by appalling weather. There is no direct mention of drugs, but 'fake amateurism' was a problem, as was gambling: bookmakers seem to have been involved, along with allegations of race fixing.
Finally there is a political element, with the aspirations of some soon to be independent countries (Finland, Iceland, Ireland) being denied. And a recurring theme is that of antagonism between Great Britian and the USA. The Olympics did not bring the nations together as might have been hoped.