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Sir Rols

Olympic Book Reviews

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I just finished reading a great new book.  It's called "Zany Games: America at the 1900 Paris Olympics" by Howard Burman.  I highly recommend it.  Mr. Burman has done a terrific job bringing to life the weird and crazy Paris games.  The book's format will seem strange at first.  As Mr. Burman writes the narrative from the viewpoint of one of the competitors (as if that competitor was the author of the book.) and includes many passages written as first person accounts from various people connected to the games - including athletes, team officials, Baron de Coubertin and more.  But, he has done a remarkable job of sifting through the myriad of confusing information to ferret out what actually took place on that hot, bizarre summer of 1900 in Paris.

Zany Games: America at the 1900 Paris Olympics Paperback – January 31, 2017

by Howard Burman (Author)

  • Paperback: 460 pages
  • Publisher: Howard Burman (January 31, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1542745969
  • ISBN-13: 978-1542745963
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches

The 1900 Paris Olympic Games were zany in many ways:

No opening or closing ceremonies were held.

Some competitors had no idea they had actually participated in the Olympics.

Competitions included swimming obstacle races, underwater swimming, motorcycle racing, live pigeon shooting, tug-of-war, ballooning and firefighting.

Children were used in rowing events.

Most winners received cups, trophies or prizes such as carriage clocks or paper knives. Some received money.

Questions remain as to whether the French winner of the marathon ran the same course as the other runners.

The track and field events were held on a lumpy grass field.

Some American athletes refused to compete on Sundays setting up a situation in which a Jewish athlete couldn't compete on a day that wasn't his Sabbath while a Gentile could compete on a day that was his Sabbath. Fisticuffs followed.

It remains unclear whether some events were part of the Olympics or not.

These Games of the II Olympiad, held in conjunction with the 1900 Exposition Universelle, nevertheless provided some outstanding contributions to Olympism:

Nearly 1000 athletes representing twenty-eight nations competed.

Team sports were included.

Women competed in sailing, lawn tennis and golf.

A black athlete competed in Rugby.

Alvin Kraenzlein remains the only athlete to have won four individual gold medals at one Olympic Game.

Here is the story of the American participation in these remarkable Games, Games in which American athletes won 17 of the 23 track and field events.

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/\/\  Well, for Paris 1900 and St. Louis 1904, the athletic/Olympic events were just add-ons to the World Expositions.  They were an after-thought; so their structure cannot be taken seriously and compared to the tight, Games-only structure of the Games after 1904.     

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HOTSHOT book on Olympic Ceremonies currently on sale @ amazon for $10.93 only  That's the updated 2018 edition .  (Do not buy the Kindle version; that one is still from 2011 and nothing at all like the paperback.)  


This sale might last through the end of the month only.  

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