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The Games

From the author of The Game of Our Lives, winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2015 David Goldblatt writes about sports 'with the expansive eye of a social and cultural critic' (Wall Street Journal). In The Games he delivers a magisterial history of the biggest and most beloved sporting event of them all: the Olympics. He tells the epic story of the Games, from their reinvention in Athens in 1896 to the present day, chronicling classic moments of sporting achievement from Jesse Owens to Nadia Comaneci, the Miracle on Ice to Usain Bolt. He goes beyond the medal tables to explore how international conflicts have played out at the Olympics, including the clash of rising America with the fading British Empire, the role of the Games for fascist Germany and Italy, and the cold war and the struggles of the post-colonial world for recognition. And he tells the extraordinary story of how women fought to be included on equal terms, how the Paralympics started in the wake of World War Two, and how the Olympics have reflected changing attitudes to race and ethnicity, from African 'savages' being pitted against American students in 1904 to the Black Power salute in 1968 and beyond. PRAISE FOR THE GAME OF OUR LIVES "Brilliantly incisive. Goldblatt is not merely the best football historian writing today, he is possibly the best there has ever been." Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times "Offers an enlightening, enriching experience. It is based on a formidable range of sources, personal observation and a pleasingly sardonic turn of phrase. ... Altogether this is an exceptional book" David Kynaston, Guardian "A superb history of a sport and of a nation" Evening Standard "Goldblatt is a trusted guide ... Rich with statistics, this is an admirably balanced account" Daily Mail "Prodigious research and a fluent writing style ... this is a fine book which should have an appeal much beyond the game" Mihir Bose, Independent "A salient overview of the past quarter-century" Times Literary Supplement
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The definitive sporting, social and political history of the modern Olympic Games, the world that made them and the world they helped to shape.

About the Author

David Goldblatt was born in 1965 and inherited, for his sins, Tottenham Hotspurs from his father. His books include Social Theory and the Environment, Global Transformations and the World Football Yearbook. He currently lives in Bristol, the Bermuda Triangle of football prowess, where he spreads his affections amongst Spurs, Bristol Rovers and Bristol City.


Gracefully written and compellingly argued, this is one of the best books of the year and one of the best sports books ever written. * Kirkus * Financial Times, Books of the year 2016 - 'Goldblatt has become arguably the premier Anglophone sports historian. Unflinching before millennia worth of material, he tells the Olympic story from the ancient Greeks to today's festival of sponsors. This book is illuminating, erudite, fair-minded, readable, told at a cracking pace, and put the Games in their social and political context.' * Financial Times * 'If reading Goldblatt often forces confrontation with the ugly reality behind sporting fantasies, his encyclopaedic approach... still retains space for the extraordinary and inspirational in the arena.' * Spectator * Goldblatt has curated a definitive, thoughtful history. * Sport * 'The book is ambitious and might have been daunting but Goldblatt is a well-qualified guide, bring the kind of insight and scale he brought to his heroic history of football, The Ball Is Round.' * Observer * 'The Olympics have never really been about sport. As David Goldblatt shows in this bracingly debunking history, from the outset the Games have been a way to project a view of the world, usually based on ugly politics and bogus science...Goldblatt writes about this with all his usual intelligence and social insight... [he] retains a superb eye for the telling detail, especially in little tales of personal failure to set alongside the more familiar stories of heroic success.' * Guardian * 'A solid and penetrating account...his analysis and narrative flow are excellent, especially when we reach the modern era.' * Sunday Times * 'An excellent, pacy, anecdote-studded history of the modern Games...This book is as good an account as there is of what draws us across reality's borders, and of what plays out on the other side.' * The Times * 'The Olympics have always been intertwined with politics, as David Goldblatt shows in an elegant and ambitious new study.' * The Economist * 'This is a high-speed toboggan ride through history' * New Statesman * 'Illuminating, erudite, fair-minded and readable...At a cracking pace, Goldblatt takes the story from the days when the giant statue of Zeus at Olympia held Nike - the goddess of victory - in the palm of his hand, right up to the era when one might argue that Nike, Coca-Cola, Visa, MacDonald's and the rest of the sponsors and official suppliers hold the whole Olympics more firmly in their grip.' * The Financial Times * 'David Goldblatt presents a serious and thoroughly researched examination of how the Olympics at times was a sideshow when politics otherwise dominated the landscape, whereas some countries tried to portray themselves in a more positive light by using sport as a vehicle to project themselves across the world.' * Daily Express * 'Goldblatt's detailed research into the political and financial shenanigans of the modern Olympics is impressive...Goldblatt's analysis provides fascinating reading...The Games sets each Olympiad in a wider international and political context, with the issues of race and gender frequently to the fore...Candid and richly researched.' * Wall Street Journal *

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