"The Complete Book of the
Summer Olympics, Sydney 2000 Edition"
"The Complete Book of the Summer Olympics, Sydney 2000 Edition"
pages, price: Overlook Press,
paperback, 928 pages, $23.95
disputed a claim Casey Stengel made, the Ol' Professor took pleasure in
responding: "Don't take my word for it. You can look it up."
You can take
pleasure in looking it up in "The Complete Book of the Summer
Olympics." This new opus by David Wallechinsky has all matter of
fascinating facts, fillers and figures, including a primer on the Sydney
introduced to the Olympics by his father, Irving Wallace, who took him to
the Summer Games in Rome in 1960, Wallechinsky has gone on to make the
Games his passion. He is NBC's radio commentator for the Olympics, the
author of numerous Olympic reference works and clearly up to the task with
this new book.
There is so
much here: almost 2,000 anecdotes and marker moments, more than 200 highly
interesting photographs of Olympic athletes, all the stats and rules for
every summer sport throughout Olympic history.
official abbreviations for each country, through the list of discontinued
sports (polo, tug-of-war, etc.), through the national medal total in each
Olympics, through a short history of the modern Games, to a new feature on
corruption and expulsions in the Olympic world, Wallechinsky touches all
facts, highlights, tables, charts, rules, history all add up to a
virtually Herculean job of research. The carefully organized format and
the clear writing make for pleasurable and easy reading.
Just the way
the author treats the individual sports is worth the price of the book.
Most contain a brief description of terminology, scoring rules, and role
in the Games. Thus, we learn that baseball "is the only sport to have
been included as an exhibition or demonstration sport six times before
finally achieving medal status in Barcelona in 1992."
also fascinating bits of Olympic insights that make for such wonderful
browsing. For example, the film "Chariots of Fire" showed runner
Eric Liddell learning at the last minute that Sunday was the day for the
final of his specialty, the 100-meter dash. Here we learn that was movie
magic. Liddell had gotten the news six months earlier.
that Jack Kelly, father of Princess Grace of Monaco, won three gold medals
in rowing in 1920 and 1924. We learn that in 1948, Alice Coachman of the
USA was the first black woman to earn an Olympic gold. We learn about
72-year-old Oscar Swahn, the oldest competitor and medallist in Olympic
truly a gold-medal Olympic reference book. Winners, losers,
behind-the-scenes stories, anecdotes about such Olympic heroes as Jesse
Owens, Jim Thorpe, Olga Korbut, Michael Johnson, Kerri Strug, Lance
Armstrong — they all are part of the Wallechinsky focus.
quibble is that an index or an expanded table of contents would have
helped one find his or her way through the mass of material. But that is a
small criticism for a book that is almost a thousand pages long.
companion to the Sydney Games, as a book for reference, browsing,
argument-settling — "The Complete Book of the Summer Olympics"
definitely belongs on your sports bookshelf.
Erskine's Tales From the Dodger Dugout" with a foreword by longtime
broadcaster Vin Scully (Sports Publishing Inc., $19.55, 231 pages) is a
look at the glory days of one of the great Brooklyn Dodgers. It is a
wonderful read, rich in details about the dozen years he was a pitcher for
You can reach
Harvey Frommer at:
About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath,
The Sporting News, among other publications.
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Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer are the authors of
five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth
College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage
in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean.
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