Rome 1960: Book summary and reviews of Rome 1960 by David Maraniss

Rome 1960

The Olympics That Changed the World

by David Maraniss

Rome 1960 by David Maraniss X
Rome 1960 by David Maraniss
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Book Summary

They were the first televised Olympics. The first doping scandal occurred there. Civil rights was an enormous issue, with black athletes emerging as super-stars and gold-medal winners. Women athletes were emerging into the world spotlight for the first time.

East and West Germany competed as one team even though they hated each other, just before the Berlin Wall went up. China and Taiwan were fighting over which rightfully could claim the title of China, a dispute with enormous political ramifications.

Both the US and Soviet Union viewed the Olympics as an important propaganda stage. There were spies on both sides and attempts at defection on both.

There were many unforgettable characters: Rafer Johnson, the first athlete to carry the US flag, the best athlete of that era, winner of the decathlon; Wilma Rudolph and the Tennesse State Tigerbelles, who dominated the women’s sprints and did more than any athletes before them to bring the global spotlight to women; Cassius Clay, an 18-year-old high school student who won the gold medal as light heavyweight; Dave Sime, the medical student from Duke who competed in the thrilling hundred yard dash while attempting to persuade a Soviet athlete to defect; and Abebe Bikila, the Ethiopian marathoner who became the first black African to win an Olympic gold medal, doing it by running through the streets of Rome in bare feet less than a quarter-century after Italy had invaded his country. Many others, including the Olympics president whose vision of innocent amateurism was collapsing.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"As usual, these Olympic stories don't quite bear up under the mythic symbolism they're weighted with...but Maraniss provides an intelligent context for his evocative reportage." - Publishers Weekly.

"Starred Review. Evocative, entertaining and often suspenseful - sports history at a very high standard." - Kirkus Reviews.

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Author Information

David Maraniss Author Biography

Author photograph by Lisa Berg

David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post and a distinguished visiting professor at Vanderbilt University. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes for journalism and was a finalist three other times. Among his bestselling books are biographies of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Roberto Clemente, and Vince Lombardi, and a trilogy about the 1960s – Rome 1960; Once in a Great City (winner of the RFK Book Prize); and They Marched into Sunlight (winner of the J. Anthony Lucas Prize and Pulitzer Finalist in History). A Good American Family is his twelfth book.

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