Round 3 of our Olympic Marathon (yes, I’m mixing up my sports analogies) comprises a reading list of books about the Olympic Games and Paralympics – the history, the guides, and the stories behind the Games.
London 2012 Olympic Games: the official book
Packed with glorious photography and expert analysis of the star athletes and their prospects, this is an authoritative and comprehensive preview of the 30th Olympiad.
It features a guide to each of the sports and venues, a brief history of the Games and the competition schedule to ensure you don’t miss a moment.
The Secret Olympian: the inside story of the Olympic experience
‘The Secret Olympian’ exposes the truth of what goes on at the Olympic Games. Shocking, funny and slightly tongue in cheek, a former Olympian reveals the world of the Olympic athlete, and what a bizarre world it is behind the scenes.
The architecture of London 2012, by Tom Dyckhoff
This guide describes the buildings created for the London 2012 Games, including permanent and temporary structures built for the Olympic Park and venues across the city. Considering the human and architectural stories behind the designs, the authors look at how the programme for the 2012 Games has pioneered a new level of sustainability.
A visitor’s guide to the ancient Greek Olympics, by Neil Faulkner
What was it like to attend the Olympics in 388 BC? Would the experience resemble the Olympic festivals as we celebrate them today? This book transports us back to the heyday of classical Greek civilization, inviting us to discover what the Greeks did and didn’t do during five thrilling days 2400 years ago.
Thinking the Olympics: the classical tradition and the modern Games, by Barbara E. Goff
This is the first book to address the convergences and divergences between the ancient and modern Games from the perspective of the classical tradition, examining the ways in which connections between ancient Greece and the revived Olympics may be constructed, interrogated, lauded, or deplored.
How to watch the Olympics: and become deeply passionate about handball, Greco-Roman wrestling and synchronised swimming, by David Goldblatt
This insightful guide offers the back story behind the games that most of us have not a clue how to play or to watch. It identifies each Olympic sport and, by means of diagrams and prose, explains the rules and finer points.
Understanding the Olympics, by John Horne
The Olympic Games is unquestionably the greatest sporting event on earth, with television audiences measured in billions of viewers. By what process did the Olympics evolve into this multi-national phenomenon? How can an understanding of the Olympic Games help us to better understand international sport and society?
The first London Olympics 1908, by Rebecca Jenkins
The first London Olympics of 1908 was a world away from modern day Olympics – everything was organised in under two years, at a fraction of the cost. Jenkins tells how the amateurism of the British and the competitiveness of the Americans meant that, far from engendering goodwill among nations, the Games caused international uproar.
Gold rush, by Michael Johnson
Michael Johnson is a living icon of the Olympic Games – as both an athlete and now as a BBC broadcaster. This book is his analysis of the fascinating combination of psychological and personal qualities, as well as internal and external factors, that go to create an Olympic champion.
The race for the 2012 Olympics: the inside story of how London won the bid, by Mike Lee
London’s victory in the campaign for the 2012 Olympics on 6 July, 2005 was one of the biggest surprises in the history of the modern Games. Paris was regarded as the firm favourite but the London team never gave up on the dream of bringing the world’s most prestigious sporting event back to Britain.
The Olympics: the basics, by Andy Miah
This is an accessible, contemporary introduction to the Olympic movement and Games. The chapters explain how the Olympics transcend sports, engaging us with a range of contemporary philosophical, social, cultural and political matters.
The dirtiest race in history: Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and the 1988 Olympic 100m final, by Richard Moore
The men’s 100m final at the 1988 Olympics has been described as the dirtiest race ever – but also the greatest. Aside from Ben Johnson’s blistering time, the race is infamous for its athletes’ positive drug tests. This is the story of that race, the rivalry between Johnson and Lewis, and the repercussions still felt in the sport.
Britain & the Olympics, 1896-2010: a celebration of British gold, by Bob Phillips
This title presents an account of the modern Olympics with particular reference to British involvement and success.
Each Games is described, and every one of the 491 British gold medallists is named.
The British Olympics: Britain’s Olympic heritage, 1612-2012, by Martin Polley
Martin Polley argues in this book that Britain’s fascination with all things Olympian has played a pivotal role in shaping the Games as we know them today, and that this culminated in London becoming, in 2012, the first city ever to stage a third modern Olympiad.
Olympic and World records 2012, by Keir Radnedge
The Olympic Games is the biggest sporting event in the world & has developed beyond all proportion since Baron Pierre du Coubertin suggested reviving the Ancient Olympic ideal in 1889. This is a collection of the finest achievements & a celebration of the legends created by some of the most distinguished names in sporting history.
Great Olympic moments, by Steven Redgrave
Complete with specially selected photographs, Sir Steve Redgrave recounts his favourite Olympic stories and reveals what it is that makes these moments truly great. All the stars of past and present are here, including Seb Coe, Steve Ovett, Nadia Comenech, Mark Spitz, Jesse Owens, Fanny Blankers-Koen, Bob Beamon, Ed Moses, and Flojo.
The Ancient Olympics, by Nigel Jonathan Spivey
Spivey paints a portrait of the Greek Olympics as they really were – fierce contests between bitter rivals, in which victors won kudos and rewards, and losers faced scorn and even assault. Victory was almost worth dying for, and a number of athletes did just that.
The Olympics’ strangest moments, by Geoff Tibballs
To mark the 2012 Olympics in London, this book recounts the bizarre, controversial, inept, heroic and plain unlucky moments from the first modern games in 1896 to the glories of Athens 2004.
The Olympic Games through a lens
A fascinating look at the modern Olympic Games, from Athens 1896 to the build-up to London 2012, via approximately 230 photographs each with a description taken from the world-famous archives of Getty Images. The emphasis is on the two previous Games held in London, in 1908 and 1948, but there are photos from all the summer Games.
The complete book of the Olympics, by David Wallechinsky
David Wallechinsky brings to life again the epic Olympic contests of the past and records many tales of heroism and great achievements against the odds, as well as bizarre and often comic episodes which have enlivened over 100 years of Olympic history.
Olympic Games miscellany, by John White
The Olympic Games is the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza with athletes from more than 200 countries either attempting to qualify or actually competing in more than dozen sports over three weeks. This isn’t a history book, a biography, an encyclopedia or a records book, but it is a little bit of all of them.
Next up – the history of the London Olympics.