Take Ten: Olympic Fever!

The 2016 Rio Olympics are underway, and like usual, many of us are captivated by the human stories. We all have our favorite sports – and most likely, favorite Olympic memories of those sports – so it’s always fun to settle down and have a shared experience with like-minded others from around the world.

But, in case watching is not enough, here are a number of books about the Olympics to “dive” into – when you get a break from all the coverage, that is…


The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics – Daniel Brown

  • Describes how a group of working class youths from the University of Washington rowing team emerged from obscurity to defeat a field of elite international rivals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream, and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team – Wayne R. Coffey

  • Looks back at one of the greatest moments of twentieth-century sports history, the victory of the U.S. hockey team over the Soviet Union, assessing the meaning of the triumph and the paths of the players and coaches on both sides since 1980.

Igniting the Flame: America’s First Olympic Team – Jim Reisler

  • Discusses the organization of the 1896 Summer Olympics, the first modern Olympics, and how difficult it was for the American team which had virtually no support heading into the games.

The Games: A Global History of the Olympics – David Goldblatt

  • The definitive sports and social history of the modern Olympic Games—by one of the most celebrated sportswriters of our time.

The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games – Tony Perrottet

  • A history of the original Olympic games depicts the events of the first competitions more than 1,200 years ago, during which tens of thousands of sweltering-hot spectators watched nude athletes participate in such events as hoplitodromia, a full-armor sprint, and the pankration, a no-holds-barred lethal brawl.

Rome, 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World – David Maraniss

  • An exploration of the changes occurring in the world: the first doping scandal, the first commercially televised Summer Games, the first athlete paid for wearing a certain brand. In the heat of the Cold War, the city teemed with spies and rumors of defections, and every move was judged for propaganda value. While East and West Germans competed as a unified team, less than a year before the Berlin Wall, there was a dispute over the two Chinas.

Speed Kings: The 1932 Winter Olympics and the Fastest Men in the World – Andy Bull

  • Traces the efforts of four American athletes from disparate backgrounds to win the gold medal for bobsledding during the 1932 Olympics, profiling how the American public, deep in the grip of the Great Depression, rallied around their achievements.

Swifter, Higher, Stronger: A Photographic History of the Summer Olympics – Sue Macy

  • Looks at the history of the Olympic Games, from their origins in ancient Greece, through their rebirth in nineteenth-century France, to the present, highlighting the contributions of individuals to the Games’ success and popularity.

The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui’s Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory – Julie Checkoway

  • Offers an inspiring story of how a group of poor Japanese-American kids from Hawaii were transformed into Olympic-level swimming champions.

Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics – Jeremy Schaap

  • A look at the accomplishments of Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympic Games draws on interviews, family sources, and archival research to provide a portrait of a remarkable man in relation to the intrigues, controversies, and political machinations that took place.


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