A standout among Olympic publications

With scientific authority devoid of any cliches, sentimentality or stereotypical flashbacks, «Olympic Homecoming: Greece’s Legacy and the 2004 Athens Games» by journalist and analyst John F.L. Ross stands out among many «Olympic» publications for its penetrating, multifaceted approach. Ross, a journalist with Kathimerini English Edition, combines an analyst’s outlook with a sportsman’s enthusiasm, guided by the need to understand the Greek way, ancient and modern. The book, divided into sections about antiquity, the 19th century revival and the contemporary Games, is no colorless, linear account. On the contrary, Ross has the ability to synthesize, highlighting elements that help the reader understand continuity or the lack of it, and revealing the dangers that stem from oversimplification or an unfiltered approach to the past. There is emphasis on the strands of ideas that gave birth to and still nourish the Olympic movement, a movement that sprang from the spirit of Romanticism but that also rose from the first networks of early globalization with the blossoming of urban, industrial society in the 19th century. Nevertheless, there is no trace of a desire to demystify the Olympic moment. Instead, the motivating force is the apotheosis of sport as a radical social current that began to penetrate the West over the past 200 years and took off in the 20th century, lately being linked with commercialization and championship-level sports. In order to understand the past, one must see it as it is, but in order to feel the weight of the present, one has to know about the journey. With its fund of anecdotes, an engaging narrative style and remarkable control of his material, Ross’s book enriches the Olympic bibliography and makes a significant contribution to critical thought.