Saturday, October 26, 2013

Review of "Inside the Winter Olympic Games"

Having been a long time fan of the Winter Olympics and still look forward to them every four years (nothing is important during those two weeks except curling and hockey) I was very excited to see a note from the author in my inbox requesting me to review his book.  I enjoyed reading this brief history on the Games by Marc Jenner, and the review is listed below. 

3 1/2 of 5 stars (good)

Having been a Winter Olympics fan since childhood, I was happy to see an offer from the author for a copy of this book on the history of the Olympics.  While I have watched many exciting athletes compete – from Peggy Fleming, Eric Heiden and the 1980 United States hockey team to Anton Apollo Ono, Lindsey Vonn and the 2010 Canadian hockey team – I was not familiar with the history of the Winter Games, especially the early ones. 

This book covers that history and more, with a section on the ancient Olympic Games as well.  There are also some Summer Olympic references but they complement, not overshadow, the Winter Olympic sections.   The history and recaps are brief, but descriptive enough for the reader to take away new knowledge of the Olympic Games.   I especially liked the sections on the Opening and Closing ceremonies.  The author researched these well by including a listing of the schedule of performances during each ceremony.   I learned that the International Olympic Committee is very strict about the order of these during the Opening Ceremony and that the artistic section of each one is the only part where the host city and country have a lot of freedom in planning the ceremony.

There were a couple of editing or factual concerns I had about the book.  These two examples I found may not be the only ones as I was not specifically combing each area for accuracy.  However, these two stuck out to me as ones that can be easily fixed.   One was found on page 15 of the PDF version.  It states that in the 1988 Winter Olympics held in Calgary, “two new events were added – ski jumping and speed skating.”   The latter sport was an Olympic sport before 1988 as Eric Heiden won five gold medals in speed skating in 1980, for example.   A check on Wikipedia had this exact statement, so it appears that is where the author got this information.  However, two other sites checked stated that SHORT TRACK speed skating was introduced in the 1988 Games as a demonstration sport.  This is noted later in the book on page 69. Therefore, I believe that is what the author meant to include if the accuracy was checked.

The other item that I found could be fixed was that in the chapter about the history of Olympic medals, Nike is mentioned on page 30 (PDF version) without an explanation of who or what Nike is.   An explanation in parentheses that Nike was the winged goddess of victory comes later in the history section.  This would have been better placed at the first mention of Nike.  Yes, kids, Nike is more than just a brand of athletic shoes!

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and did learn a little bit more about Olympic history.   It is a good quick read and would be enjoyed by those who want to learn about the Winter Olympics. 

I wish to thank the author for providing a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Did I skim?

Pace of the book: 
Very good.  The format of the book makes each section easy to read and because the information does not get bogged down into minute detail, it is a quick read as well.

Do I recommend? 

Yes.  While hard-core fans of either the Olympics or history buffs may want more detail, the more casual reader will certainly enjoy reading this.

Book Format Read:
E-Book (PDF)

Author Link:

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