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The Modern Olympics

, 272 pages
August 2002



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The Modern Olympics

A Struggle for Revival

According to most accounts, the man solely responsible for reviving the modern Olympic Games was Baron Pierre de Coubertin. Now, in The Modern Olympics, David C. Young challenges this view, revealing that Coubertin was only the last and most successful of many contributors to the dream of the modern Olympics.

Based on thirteen years of research in previously neglected documents, Young reconstructs the fascinating and almost unknown history of the Olympic revival movement in the nineteenth century, including two long-forgotten Olympiads—one in London in 1866 and another in Athens in 1870. He traces the idea for the modern Olympics back to an obscure Greek poet in 1833 and follows the sinuous tale to a small village in England, where W. P. Brookes held local Olympiads, founded the British Olympic Committee, and told Coubertin about his vision of an international Olympics.

Coubertin's main contribution to the founding of the modern Olympics was the zeal he brought to transforming an idea that had evolved over decades into the reality of Olympiad I and all the Olympic Games held thereafter.

David C. Young is a professor of classics at the University of Florida.

"For more than 100 years, Baron Pierre de Coubertin of France has been glorified as the man who 'invented' the modern Olympic Games. It's not true, says a University of Florida professor. An English physician and a gaggle of 19th century Greeks did more to revive the Games, among them an eccentric philanthropist whose body was buried—per his instructions—in Romania, Albania and Athens, according to David C. Young, a classics professor with a long-standing interest in the Olympics."

"David C. Young is a classicist who brings to this already investigated topic a doggedness and enthusiasm that go beyond anything done before. For the community of critical sports historians, this book is a major event."

"Indispensable to all Olympic historians... Young is an enthralling writer... exhaustive research."

"Young's research is impeccable."

"Young has provided us with a carefully researched examination of two important and much misunderstood episodes in Modern Olympic history, the genesis of the most vigorous and successful early attempts to organize Olympic Games in modern context... Far and away themost authoritative and comprehensive portrayal of the subject yet produced... The corpus of research data produced by Young in this study is far beyond admiration, it is altogether staggering."

"This book is scholarly, unique, revelatory. And it will be controversial, especially among serious Olympic fans and scholars."