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Onward to the Olympics

Historical Perspectives on the Olympic Games

Gerald P. Schaus and Stephen R. Wenn, editors

Paper 408 pp.

ISBN13: 978-1-55458-042-2

Release Date: December 2009

Online discount: 25%

$42.99  $32.24


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The Olympic Games have had two lives—the first lasted for a millennium with celebrations every four years at Olympia to honour the god Zeus. The second has blossomed over the past century, from a simple start in Athens in 1896 to a dazzling return to Greece in 2004. Onward to the Olympics provides both an overview and an array of insights into aspects of the Games’ history. Leading North American archaeologists and historians of sport explore the origins of the Games, compare the ancient and the modern, discuss the organization and financing of such massive athletic festivals, and examine the participation ,or the troubling lack of it, by women.

Onward to the Olympics bridges the historical divide between the ancient and the modern and concludes with a thought-provoking final essay that attempts to predict the future of the Olympics over the twenty-first century.

Gerald P. Schaus is a professor of archaeology and Classical studies and former chair of the department at Wilfrid Laurier University, where he also teaches ancient sports. He is publishing the results of Canadian excavations in the Athena Sanctuary Stymphalos (Greece).

Stephen R. Wenn is a professor in Wilfrid Laurier University’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. He is co-author of Selling the Five Rings: The IOC and the Rise of Olympic Commercialism (2002).


“Schaus and Wenn have managed to put in the hands of any interested reader a collection of articles between two covers that deal with both ancient problems and modern issues. How can anyone interested in the study of ancient athletics resist at least skimming through an article with a title like: ‘Duke Kahanamoku—Olympic Champion and Uncle Sam’s Adopted Son: The Cultural Text of a Hawaiian Conqueror’ by Jim Nendel...or ‘Carl Diem’s Inspiration of the Torch Relay? Jan Wils, Amsterdam 1928, and the Origin of the Olympic Flame’ by Robert Barney and Anthony Bijkerk.... These, and many others in Part II, are important papers, especially for classicists like me who regularly teach an ‘Ancient Sport’ course especially popular with non-classics majors.”

— Michael Carter, Brock University, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

“[T]he authors are experts ... and the book is well edited. It will certainly please those fascinated by the Olympics.... Recommended.”

— D.W. Hill, University of North Texas, CHOICE