Monday, July 21, 2008

Topical and timely tome

I've got alliteration on the brain this morning...if you want a good summer read that is equal parts sports, history, politics and melodrama--that is, 3-decades-old sports, history, politics and melodrama, a break from the presidential campaign--then David Maraniss's Rome l960 is the book for you. Maraniss is famous for his histories in microcosm, that is taking one event and making clear its meaning over time. It turns out Rome's Olympic games saw a number of significant firsts: East and West Germany competing as one Olympic team, just months before the Wall went up, Cassius Clay becoming the first worldwide celebrity athlete, the debut of steroids as a game-changing substance, the struggle of the United States authorities to answer East bloc charges of racism and hypocrisy by showcasing such luminous talents as Wilma Rudolph while allowing southern state authorities to do everything possible to thwart civil rights demonstrators at home. This work is especially relevant as we approach what is certain to be another epochal games in Beijing. You can read some Amazon reviews here.


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