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*A Passion for Victory: The Story of the Olympics in Ancient and Early Modern Times* by Benson Bobrick - middle grades book review
A Passion for Victory: The Story of the Olympics in Ancient and Early Modern Times
by Benson Bobrick
Ages 10+ 160 pages Knopf June 2012 Hardcover    

Benson Bobrick tackles the remarkable history of the Olympics in a compelling narrative which incorporates first-person accounts, personal stories, politics, stories of athletic prowess, cheating, and the fascinating details of the evolution of sporting events.

A Passion for Victory begins with a chronology of key dates and Olympic events in ancient and modern times. The first chapter begins with a quotation which could have easily come from a modern sports fan, acclaiming a passion for victory which has become an integral part of contemporary culture.

The book then delves into the ancient beginnings of the competition, the social and political goals, and the humble beginning of a two hundred-yard foot race held in a meadow in Olympia, Greece. Subsequent chapters follow chronologically, discussing the role of sports in the ancient world and the eventual decline, then moving into the more modern era with the new Olympic movement, struggles to organize, politics, and the eventual establishment of the games as a worldwide sporting event. The appendix includes a chart of Olympic medals, notes, bibliography, and index.

Thoroughly researched, A Passion for Victory includes historical photographs on almost every page, breaking up the text, punctuating the key points of the text, helping the reader to visualize the past. Bobrick approaches his subject matter as if it were a wonderful, long story which is sure to capture the imagination of the reader.

It takes stamina to read through the book; there is a lot of detail, but first-person quotations, obscure facts and personal stories keep the reader engaged. Tales of athletes who cheated, people who risked their lives to compete, extraordinarily long matches, competitions which would now be considered extremely violent, and fascinating political circumstances all combine to pique the readerís interest.

The Olympics is a perennial favorite for student research. . A Passion for Victory provides plenty of detail, lists resources for further research and in-depth information about the history of this incredible, worldwide event. As a well-written informational text, teachers can certainly use this book to address a variety of Common Core standards, particularly those related to literacy in history, key details, craft and structure. Highly recommended.
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