History of the Olympic Games

With the beginning of the Olympic Games just around the corner, many of our minds have turned to those sporting events that we observe only once every 4 years. Miami University Libraries has a large number of items related to the Olympic Games. You will find books related to the Olympic Games throughout our collections, but a large concentration of them are located in the GV721 call number range on the second floor of King Library. Below are some interesting items from our collections related to the Olympic Games.

History:

O'Mahony, Mike (2012). Olympic Visions: Images of the Games Through History. 

ArtArch | N8250 .O43 2012

This new collection of images contains photographs from each of the modern Olympic games, from the first in Athens in 1896 to the most recent in Beijing in 2008. This book can be found in the Art and Architecture Library in Alumni Hall.

Polley, Martin (2011). The British Olympics: Britain's Olympic Heritage 1612-2012.

King Library (Second Floor) | GV721.4.G7 P65 2011


In 2012, London will host the Olympic Games for a unprecedented 4th time. For this reason, the Games and the British Isles are inextricably linked. What many don't know, however, is the role the British authors and athletes played in the formation of the modern Olympic movement. For instance, the first time an athletic competition which was comprised of a number of events was given the term "olympik" since the ancient games was in Britain in 1612? Also, it was a Englishman who discovered the Olympia, the site of the ancient games, in 1766. This volume presents the role Britain played in the formation of the modern Games, as well as the role it has played in their maintenance and rise to prominence.  

Mallon, Bill & Heijmans, Jeroen (2011). Historical Dictionary of the Olympic Movement. 

King Reference | GV721.5 .B83 2011


This reference book contains entries on the people, places and concepts that helped shape the Olympic movement. Its scope covers both the modern and ancient games. This title also includes a timeline of important events in the history of the Olympic Games. This book is a great place to begin research on any topic related to the Olympic Games.

Davis, David (2012). Showdown and Shepherd's Bush: The 1908 Olympic Marathon and the Three Runners Who Launched a Sporting Craze

King Library (Second Floor) | GV1065 .D38 2012


The marathon at the 1908 London Olympic Games went a long way in popularizing the sport of distance running. This account of that event places the race in its historical and socio-political context and examines the fallout of the controversial finish to the first prominent distance race. As a side note, it was at the 1908 Olympics that the distance of the modern marathon was standardized to 26 miles, 385 yards. The race was to have been 26 miles plus a lap of the Olympic track which would have resulted in a distance of 26 miles, 586 yards and 2 feet. However, Queen Alexandra was not pleased with her view of the final yards of the race from the royal box, so the final yards of the race were run clockwise around the track resulting in now-standard distance.

Tragedy and Controversy:

Smith, Tommie (2007). Silent Gesture: The Autobiography of Tommie Smith

King Library (Second Floor) | GV697 .S65 A3 2007


Tommie Smith's and John Carlos' black power salute during the medal ceremony for the 200m race at the 1968 Mexico City Games set off a firestorm of controversy. Tommie Smith discusses this pivotal event in both the American Civil Rights and Olympic movements in this, his autobiography. 

Pound, Richard W. (2004). Inside the Olympics: A Behind-the-scenes Look at the Politics, the Scandle and the Glory of the Games.

King Library (Second Floor) | GV721.5 .P69 2004


This book by Dick Pound, former vice-president of the International Olympic Committee and president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, explores the dark sides of the Olympic Games. Topics include the politics and corruption of the host city selection process, doping and other cheating engaged in by athletes and controversies related to judging.

ABC News (2005). The Tragedy of the Munich Games

King Library, Ground Floor, IMC, DVD | GV722 1972 .T73 2005

This DVD is an ABC News special report of the kidnapping of members of the Israeli Olympic team at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. It includes archival footage from ABC's coverage of the event as well as contemporary interviews with eyewitnesses and others affected by this tragedy. 

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