I don't know about your family, but we are glued to the coverage of the 2012 London Summer Olympics right now, so the timing for this book to arrive could not have been better. Unfortunately, the kids found it lacking.
Since the audience for A PASSION FOR VICTORY is children and teens, I was glad to see lots of illustrations, photographs, and broad brushstrokes. All of the photographs and illustrations were in black and white, which is understandable considering Benson Bobrick documented two thousand year history, but it did not capture the attention of my guys. Could it have been more colorfully designed for this audience? Absolutely. Could there have been more blurbs and factoids? Definitely.
My son went straight for the Appendix to see the Olympic Medal Records 1896-1948 and found it lacking as well. I think he was expecting more detail on the athletes and sports of the medals won, instead of just the countries. It prompted a great discussion on how the athletes at the games, even from 776 B.C. to present day are competing on behalf of their country, not just for themselves. The news anchors still give the same medal tallies at the end of each day - not by individual or by sport, but by country. Great discussion on individual vs. team followed!
I appreciated the history detailed in the book, especially that of the Olympic torch and of the politics that have plagued the game for centuries. I found the research interesting and the overall text well written.
My 10 year old, on the other hand, thought it looked like a textbook. We will leave it lying around to see if he picks it up again. I think once he reads the text, and finds the wit and drama behind the games, the enjoyment quotient will rise.
From the barefoot races of 8th century BC to the underwater obstacle courses in the early 20th century to the high-tension Berlin Games preceding World War II, the Olympics have always been exciting dramas of athletic prowess and human interest. In A Passion for Victory, award-winning author Benson Bobrick tells the details of the captivating story of the Olympic Games, starting with their inception in Ancient Greece. This wonderfully readable narrative is rich with anecdotes and profiles of athletes and weaves in important historical events to create a complete picture of each installment of the Games. This thorough account of an international fixation is gripping, poignant, and occasionally hilarious.
Second Opinion: Review: Becky's Book Reviews
About the Book:
About the Author: (From Random House)
BENSON BOBRICK earned his doctorate from Columbia University and is the author of one other nonfiction book for young people, The Battle of Nashville, and several critically acclaimed books for adults. In 2002, he received the Literature Award of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He and his wife, Hilary, divide their time between New York and Vermont.