Reading challenge 2013: Making History at London 2012, edited by Brendan Gallagher

The fifth book in my challenge to ready 12 non-fiction books in 2013 is Making History at London 2012, 25 Iconic Moments of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

This time a year ago I was in the middle of putting together a supplement about the Games, and preparing coverage of the Olympic Torch relay. It’s amazing to think that in the two months that followed, we saw some of the best sport ever played.

I got sent Making History at London 2012 last year, at the time of its release, but after a whirlwind summer where I felt like I lived and breathed the Games, I didn’t read it. It’s fitting to go back to it now, as we approach the first anniversary of the Games.

Edited by Brendan Gallagher, chief sports feature writer at The Daily Telegraph, Making History at London 2012 is a collection of essays by journalists (and the design principal for the Games) on a variety of subjects, from the bid for the 2012 Games to the opening ceremony to the construction of the park to an analysis of the great sport we saw.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games are touted as ‘the greatest show on earth’, and this book celebrates that. There are no mentions of any protests around the Games, and very few of the sporting failures. Instead, this book does what Brits so often don’t do but learnt to during the Games – lauds our achievements as a nation (as well as praising a few international athletes). It’s a one-sided look at the Games, but what a great side the writers picked.

As I read Tom Knight’s recap of Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening ceremony, Pat Rowley’s account of how Team GB women’s hockey captain Kate Walsh returned to the tournament after surgery on a fractured jaw, Craig Lord’s piece on Michael Phelps’ historic Games, and more, I felt the emotions of London 2012 coming back to me.

It was a truly glorious summer, where all of Britain got caught up in a sense of triumph and where we watched as a Games we all held niggling doubts about went off without a hitch. Not everything great about the Games is mentioned in Making History at London 2012, but with such a phenomenally successful Games (the best in history some would say), there was no way to include it all. Gallagher says in his introduction:

“There was just so much to take in, and there still is. As ever, the greatest challenge lies in deciding what to leave out.”

What’s included in this book is a great selection, and the rest will live on in our memories. 

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