Saturday, July 05, 2008

Pg. 99: David Maraniss' "Rome 1960"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: David Maraniss' Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the critically acclaimed and bestselling author David Maraniss, a groundbreaking book that weaves sports, politics, and history into a tour de force about the 1960 Rome Olympics, eighteen days of theater, suspense, victory, and defeat

David Maraniss draws compelling portraits of the athletes competing in Rome, including some of the most honored in Olympic history: decathlete Rafer Johnson, sprinter Wilma Rudolph, Ethiopian marathoner Abebe Bikila, and Louisville boxer Cassius Clay, who at eighteen seized the world stage for the first time, four years before he became Muhammad Ali.

Along with these unforgettable characters and dramatic contests, there was a deeper meaning to those late-summer days at the dawn of the sixties. Change was apparent everywhere. The world as we know it was coming into view.

Rome saw the first doping scandal, the first commercially televised Summer Games, the first athlete paid for wearing a certain brand of shoes. Old-boy notions of Olympic amateurism were crumbling and could never be taken seriously again. In the heat of the cold war, the city teemed with spies and rumors of defections. Every move was judged for its propaganda value. East and West Germans competed as a unified team less than a year before the Berlin Wall. There was dispute over the two Chinas. An independence movement was sweeping sub-Saharan Africa, with fourteen nations in the process of being born. There was increasing pressure to provide equal rights for blacks and women as they emerged from generations of discrimination.

Using the meticulous research and sweeping narrative style that have become his trademark, Maraniss reveals the rich palate of character, competition, and meaning that gave Rome 1960 its singular essence.
Among the early acclaim for Rome 1960:
"Evocative, entertaining and often suspenseful - sports history at a very high standard."
--Kirkus (starred review)

A "marvelous account of the interminable clash between Olympian ideals and pragmatic reality."
--Christian Science Monitor

"[A] tightly written, colorful tapestry.... Maraniss' prose is magnetic, too. He deftly transforms a complex event into a seamless story that is worthy of the gold medal that adorns the cover of Rome 1960."
--Tampa Tribune

"Although his descriptions of the sporting events and the athletes' lives on and off the field (e.g., Muhammad Ali when he was still Cassius Clay) would be sufficient to make this book worthy of adoption for sports collections, the author's wealth of sociohistorical knowledge that he also bestows upon the reader makes the book essential."
--Library Journal
Read an excerpt from Rome 1960, and learn more about the book and author at David Maraniss' website and the Rome 1960 Facebook page.

David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post. He is the winner of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting and has been a Pulitzer finalist two other times for his journalism and again for They Marched Into Sunlight, a book about Vietnam and the sixties. The author also of bestselling works on Bill Clinton, Vince Lombardi, and Roberto Clemente, Maraniss is a fellow of the Society of American Historians.

The Page 99 Test: Rome 1960.

--Marshal Zeringue