A Passion for Victory: The Story of the Olympics in Ancient and Early Modern Times by Benson Bobrick.
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 2012
List Price: $19.99
Review: Historical, political, and competitive are three words that describe this detailed book written by Benson Bobrick. A Passion for Victory is historical because it covers ancient Greece and ancient Rome and the beginnings of the modern Olympics. A Passion for Victory is about politics because Germany hosted the summer Olympics in 1936. The Nazis were in control of Germany and Adolf Hitler wanted to show off. Germany had the finest Olympic Village and had a brand new stadium built 5 miles from Berlin. A Passion for Victory is also competitive because all the countries that compete in the Olympics try to get the most gold medals. Some countries hate each other so they just try to beat each other.
Ancient Greece started the Olympics as a peaceful contest between two rival city -states called Athens and Sparta. There was only one event, the two hundred yard foot race. Ancient Rome soon took over Greece and the first Olympics under Roman control occurred. Runners eventually ran naked because they believed that you would run faster naked because the clothes back then acted like a parachute. The Olympics added more events like long jump, javelin throw, discus, boxing, and wrestling. In 680 B.C. a chariot race was added in. Thanks to the Olympics, other sport championships were founded, these championships are, tennis opens, World Cup soccer tournaments, and Super Bowls. In 328 B.C. a man named Aegus won a two and one-fourth mile race and then ran sixty miles away to his home to tell everyone that he won. In 67 A.D. emperor Nero joined a chariot race and fell off in the beginning, but, bribed the judges to let him win. In 1912 a dominating American, Jim Thrope won many events, pole vault, long jump, and the discus throwing in the Olympics. In 1936 the summer Olympics were held at Berlin, Germany. Hitler was in charge of Germany by then. A new stadium was built along with a new Olympic village. Some Americans wanted to boycott because of the Nazi regime. Jessie Owens, a black runner for the U.S., dominated the 'white men races' according to Hitler. Jessie Owens performed so amazingly, that Adolf Hitler was embarrassed.
There are parts I like and do not like about A Passion for Victory. The good things are learning about the history of the Olympics and learning about sports. I enjoyed learning facts such as ÒIn 328 B.C., a man named Aegus won a 2 _ mile race, and then ran to his home, 60 miles away. He wanted to tell everyone what he had done. Then shortly after he got home, he died.Ó I also enjoyed learning about methods they used in their athletic events, such as ÒTo throw a discus an athlete has to put a discus under his/her forearm. An athlete put his/her fingers under the discus.Ó It tells you how to ride a chariot because it says ÒTo ride a chariot the rider has to hold on to all of the reins of the horses on your 'team'.Ó However, some parts are confusing because it says that a man named Aegus ran to his home 60 miles away. But my parents say that someone ran to tell people that someone else won, or, that someone ran to tell everyone that someone won a war. It just isn't consistent with other stories I've heard. I recommend A Passion for Victory to 4th grade up kids who like sports (probably boys) because younger readers might struggle with the vocabulary and information. Overall, A Passion for Victory is a well-rounded book, so I applaud the author.
Review written by Dalton (6th grade student).
We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of A Passion for Victory: The Story of the Olympics in Ancient and Early Modern Times for this review.
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