Read Something in the Air: The Story of American Passion and Defiance in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics by Richard Hoffer Online


IN SOMETHING IN THE AIR, Richard Hoffer has written a gripping sports narrative that brilliantly tells the individual stories of the unforgettable athletes who gathered in Mexico City in 1968, a year of dramatic upheaval around the world.Those Olympics caught the revolutionary spirit of the times. In these pages, Hoffer captures the turbulence and offbeat heroism of thatIN SOMETHING IN THE AIR, Richard Hoffer has written a gripping sports narrative that brilliantly tells the individual stories of the unforgettable athletes who gathered in Mexico City in 1968, a year of dramatic upheaval around the world.Those Olympics caught the revolutionary spirit of the times. In these pages, Hoffer captures the turbulence and offbeat heroism of that historic Olympiad, which was as rich in inspiring moments as it was drenched in political and racial tension. This was a year that saw the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy; racial rioting in the nation's big cities; the upheaval at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago; growing revulsion toward the war in Vietnam; an inspiring bid for freedom in Czechoslovakia, which was crushed by Soviet tanks; and student demonstrations seemingly everywhere, including, fatefully, in Mexico City itself.Racial tensions were high on the U.S. Olympic team, where inflamed black athletes had to choose between demands for justice on one hand and loyalty to country on the other. No one had easy choices.Although the basketball star Lew Alcindor (later to become the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) decided not to participate, heavyweight boxer George Foreman not only competed and won a gold medal, but waved a miniature American flag at foreign judges. The sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos became as famous for their raised-fist gestures of protest as their speed on the track. No one was prepared for Bob Beamon's long jump, which broke the world record by a staggering twenty-two inches. And then there was Dick Fosbury, the goofball high jumper whose backward, upside-down approach to the bar (the "Fosbury Flop") baffled his coaches while breaking records. Though Fosbury was his own man, he was apolitical and easygoing. He didn't defy authority; he defied gravity.These were a complicated Olympics -- no longer a reliably reassuring sporting event, a respite from world events. Not only was the 1968 Olympics a forum for youthful protest, it was a platform for the lingering racism that divided a nation. The generational contest that was working itself out in the culture back home was exploding in Mexico City. Everything was up for grabs. Professionalism was suddenly overtaking this last outpost of amateurism, the media was piggybacking a newly inflated spectacle, nations tussled as usual for international attention. And all the while, a bunch of kids were pitting their interests against the world's, weighing performance against politics, in one of the most exciting sporting events of the twentieth century.Witty, insightful, and filled with human drama, Something in the Air mixes Shakespearean complexity with Hollywood sentimentality, sociopolitical significance, and the exhilarating spectacle of youthful physical prowess. It is a powerful, unforgettable tale that will resonate with sports fans and readers of social history alike....

Title : Something in the Air: The Story of American Passion and Defiance in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics
Author :
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ISBN : 9781416588948
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Something in the Air: The Story of American Passion and Defiance in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics Reviews

  • Margaret Sankey
    2019-02-10 15:04

    Lightweight popular sports history of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, touching on the controversy and problems, but never really digging in. This was the Olympics of George Foreman, the Fosbury Flop, dueling Addidas and Puma salesmen as well as the Massacre at the Plaza of Three Cultures and the black power salute. Hoffer gives more background available now about the planned protests by African American athletes (black socks? barefoot? the salute?) and the ways in which the US government attempted to control them--the ROTC and active duty military athletes weer threatened upfront with court-martial and combat tours of Vietnam. It is telling that the US media lauded a Czech gymnast for defiantly turning her head during the playing of the Russian anthem but blasting the salute. Hoffer gives a brief trajectory for some of his featured athletes, but, perhaps because it was just too depressing, overlooks all the women, who had no endorsements and no professional sports to go to. Dig a little more and analyze, Hoffer, and write a better book about this compelling stuff.

  • Francisco Gonzalez
    2019-02-06 18:22

    This week I've read my book at home and on the bus. On the bus I read for forty five minutes on monday and tuesday. At my house I read for thirty minutes in a quite environment. In the last few chapters I read about how the civil rights movement impacted the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. I could feel the tension during the time period and also a sense of hatred. African Americans were taking action and boycotting events in order to get racial equality. In one boycott African Americans threatened to "physically interfere" in the opening game at San Jose State vs. The University of Texas until their demands were met. The Hells Angel (a biker gang from Oakland) threatened to go down to San Jose State to make sure nobody interfered with the game. When I read that it was very fascinating to me because I've heard of both groups and watch specials on television about them. To read about both groups confronting each other was appalling to me. During a time of controversy there was a motivating moment that stood out to me. While one third of black athletes decided to boycott the olympics, a group of white guys made a difference in the boycott. Harvard's eight man crew team participated in the boycott and shocked the nation. They showed that injustices are not right in spite of the color of your skin. They stood up for African Americans when the nation was split in half. It was interesting to me that the crew team was willing to put their reputations on the line when they didn't have to.

  • Matt Fitz
    2019-02-03 19:24

    I was born in the summer of 1968, so I have appreciated exploring my connection to that pivotal period of time. MLK/RFK assassinations, civil rights and anti-war protests, DNC protest, passage of the 68 Civil Rights Act, Prague Spring, Tet Offensive, Nixon election, Laugh-In premier, Beatle's white album, etc). These Olympics had a little bit of all of it. Hoffer does a good job covering a lot of ground (Beamon's record long jump, Jim Ryun, teen Spitz, George Foreman, Al Oerter's 4th Olympics). And especially Carlos and Smith as they found away to protest when the idea of a boycott was set aside. The only downside is that Hoffer writes like a sports journalist and the book becomes choppy with abrupt transitions and lost context. Like he could not decide if he wanted to write a linear narrative or one based on the characters. In the end, it lacks a bit of both. Humorous anecdotes and well worth a read about some of our sport legends during a time of international and national tumult. I especially loved learning about the other protest at the Olympics from a young Czech gymnast that I had never learned.

  • Susan
    2019-02-15 20:09

    What a powerful story. It's 1968, the Olympics are held for the first time ever in a developing country and in Latin America. There's turmoil around the world (riots in Paris, later in Chicago, MLK and RFK are assassinated, and race relations aren't improving despite various laws passed under LBJ). So when two African American athletes bow their heads and raise a black-gloved fist during their medal ceremony when the US national anthem starts, the International Olympic Committee (and soon the US Olympic Committee) go nuts and kick Tommie Smith and John Carlos off the US team--and out of Mexico. Richard Hoffer follows the young careers of these and other athletes (including a young George Foreman) and the events that lead up to Mexico City 1968. One chilling image from late in the story is during the closing ceremonies when a Munich 1972 banner is unveiled.

  • Jesse
    2019-02-11 13:08

    Jangly, zippy prose (some it quite funny) enlivens this telling of the 1968 summer Olympics in Mexico City, along with some neat descriptions of how track-and-field actually works. It's a little hypocritical, or falsely lefty, to spend all this time mentioning the sexism of 60s sports coverage and then to spend about 15% of the book on female athletes, too. But Hoffer tells the story of the defiance of Tommie Smith and John Carlos affectingly--and honestly, as they come across as committed, thoughtful guys unsure of what, exactly to do, and paying huge prices for a pretty minor act of protest that outraged medieval IOC head Avery Brundage, who was just not an admirable or worthwhile human being. Also a lot of good stuff about the Harvard crew guys, who didn't win anything but threw in their lot politically on the right side.

  • Shannon
    2019-01-24 15:04

    Things I learned:Sports coverage for women were pretty sexist, calling them girls, treating it as a way to shape up their legs and meet menGeorge Foreman had a pretty tough life and through serendipitous chance became a boxer; the same with the many black athletes growing up in tough conditions featured hereThe Olympics were ridiculously and extremely politicized; lots of discussions about boycotts, racism and Fosbury was a dear. Quite funny at times but rather too much politics for me.

  • Dale Stonehouse
    2019-02-06 18:59

    It was fun to take a trip back to events I watched with great interest. The Mexico City Olympics were the first to be televised extensively, and with the USA dominating, it was a fan's dream. It also gave some value to a year I still remember as very depressing, with seemingly every leader espousing non-violence being gunned down. Most of this book is based on new interviews with the participants and highlights the idiosyncrasies of the first games in a 3rd world country. It was also the beginning of the end for true amateur sports and a time when PEDs began to take hold worldwide.

  • Leslie
    2019-01-22 13:13

    I read this book for a term paper I was writing. It was filled with a lot of great stories and information of the time period. Only flaw I saw was the part were the author mentions that Americans invented the sport of basketball. It was actually invented by James Naismith a Canadian gym teacher.

  • Derek Bycraft
    2019-02-17 20:15

    An alright book. It was dry at some points, interesting at others. I think it is more a scratching the surface type book than really bringing you fully into the action. I would've like more in-depth information about what was going on. Good to read if you're big into Olympics history.

  • Jack
    2019-02-06 15:21

    I'm skeptical about some of the information in this book.

  • Paul Carr
    2019-01-23 16:58

    Something in the Air: Good read on '68 Olympics in Mexico City. Lyrical writing. Plenty of moderately deep snapshots of the big USA stars.

  • Chris Dean
    2019-02-10 15:12

    I enjoyed the personal backstories of the athletes and the conditions leading up to the 1968 Olympic Games. The political landscape in Mexico in particular was very interesting.

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