Thursday, January 07, 2010

Book Review - The Complete Book of the Olympics 2008 Edition

Only two days before completing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer I finished another book that has been a long time coming - The Complete Book of the Olympics 2008 Edition. I bough this for myself in April last year. Considering that there was a total of 1179 pages to read you can understand why it's taken so long to complete.

This is a book for nerds and statisticians alike. Is there a difference? As the book cover aludes - it is a treasure trove of lore, drama and anecdotes including the top eight finishers in every summer Olympic event from 1896 to 2004. Rules and scoring for events is there too. What an absolute wealth of information. When it comes down to the swimming events I felt like I was reminiscing about old times by reading the last 20 or 30 years worth of events. The names of the competitors and their deeds were so familiar. Perhaps the best part of the book were the anecdotes. So many athletes entered politics or were busted for drug running (I don't think anybody had a spiked shoe in both camps). There's the gymnast who broke her back and was carted off in a wheelchair, the Hungarian pistol shooter who lost his hand when a grenade exploded so he taught himself to shoot with the other hand and won the gold medal, the growing number of state-sponsored drug cheats and the fact that during the Great Depression an American athlete could win a gold medal in front of 60,000 people in his hometown but still have to walk home from the stadium as no-one on the street recognised him. Everything the Stats Man, another nickname I had, could ever want.

If you, like me, enjoy facts and figures you will love this book. One thing that I did find annoying was the constant misspelling of names, even within the same section, that went on. A decent proofreader required before the next edition goes to press. But a wonderful piece of work nevertheless.

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The Complete Book of the Olympics 2008 Edition


James said...

Maybe you could send them numerous A4 pages full of their mistakes. You might even get your name mentioned in their next book as a contributor.^^;)

Hammy said...

That's exactly what I did with the Guinness Book of Records and I was able to meet the editor in London. Bit of a thrill for a cuboid like me.

Anonymous said...

Gotta love it.

Ben said...

Hey Hammy,

Did you really meet the editor of the Guinness Book of Records? I think you have a now have a friend who's a book publisher.

Hammy said...

I met Peter Matthews in London in '95. My name is in the '94 edition, I think, as a contributor. I'd always wanted to get my name in the Guinness Book of Records. Just a pity that I haven't done it as a record breaker.