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Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  78 ratings  ·  9 reviews
A timely, no-holds barred, critical political history of the modern Olympic Games

The Olympics have not always been the commercialized juggernaut we know today, but as Jules Boykoff makes clear in this story-filled and devastating history, the Games have since their inception had a thoroughly checkered political history. Pierre de Coubertin, the aristocrat who gave birth to
Published May 17th 2016 by Verso
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Pinko Palest
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
the tightly condensed history of the first half of the book is quite good. Not so the way the author wears his New Left colours on his sleeve in the second half, and how he seems to condemn the Old Left, almost as much as he attacks neoliberalism. There is far too much about Vancouver and London and far too little about everything else
Haylee Lederer
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was so fascinated with this book. I initially began it because I was interested in the relationship between sports and politics, entertainment and dissent. For me, this book struck a perfect balance in describing the politics of the times, as well as the people who advocated against the Olympics. It inspired me in a new way and I feel a better person having read it.
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
Boykoff covers the entire history of the modern Olympic games with a critical leftist perspective. I appreciate the attempt to tell the other side of the story, so to speak, but it's no enough to turn it into a coherent story. It reads more like a collection of anecdotes.

There were bits that were interesting--in particular the origin of the importance of "amateurism." The original definition of amateur used in the Victorian era excluded anyone who made a living with his body, by working in the
Beata Fogarasi
Nov 29, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a lefty critique not of the concept of the Olympics as an international celebration of the concept of sport, but as a capitalist event series that destroys local communities and municipal fiscal health with little sustainable gain to show for it at the local level. It's like a book version of the articles that crop up like mushrooms two weeks before every Olympics, and I'm glad it's compiled here to have the (pretty damning) throughlines visible in one place. He does include a number of ...more
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book charts the brief history of the Olympics through to the ever increasing costs to stage a modern games. I wonder how long if the IOC does not reform fewer and fewer cities will want to host the games.

Worth a read
Feb 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018
There’s great information in this book, but about halfway through it the narrative gets bogged down in minutia.
Jun 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: world-history
Power Games chronicles the litany of abuses that that the Olympics has inflicted upon the cities that have hosted it. From corrupt bidding process to commercialization to environmental abuses and human rights glossing over the Olympics’ ugly warts are displayed for all. The book beings with a history of the Olympics and the racist start for the games to show that white athletes could beat the various non civilized peoples of the world. As the games began to get more organized and more inclusive ...more

Review by Jacqueline Kennelly

As all eyes turn to Rio in anticipation of the 2016 Summer Olympics, those of us who have even the smallest inkling of the negative impact of the Games on host city residents can only shudder.
In light of the typical parade of maudlin media tributes to athletic prowess and Olympic success, it is refreshing to read Jules Boykoff's brisk and powerful account of political resistance to the Olympic behemoth, past and present, Power
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sport-studies
I have reviewed Power Games for Red Pepper. ...more
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“Twenty-one out of twenty-two of the stadiums, arenas, sports halls and swimming pools built for the Games are either derelict, in a state of disrepair, boarded up or unable to find a buyer and underused.” 1 likes
“IOC member and future president Lord Killanin sent a packet of critical letters to US Olympics official Clifford Buck and exclaimed: “I fear these political, social and technical problems in Colorado are not helping the Olympic Movement! The letters seem reasonable and not cranky!”17” 1 likes
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