Episode 111: Book Club Claire on “Munich 1972”


Book Club Claire is back! We discuss our latest pick, Munich 1972: Tragedy, Terror, and Triumph at the Olympic Games by David Clay Large. If you finished it—and Jill finished it with all of four minutes to go before we taped—congratulations! This one was a tough one to get through, although there are sections that are really interesting (and if you like to learn details about Olympics preparations, a good half of the book is for you).

The Munich Olympics is unfortunately first remembered for the hostage tragedy that occurred in the Olympic Village. The Palestinian terrorist group Black September snuck into the Village and took 11 members of the Israeli team hostage. They, along with a West German police officer, were all killed. Alison mentions this news clip from Jim McKay that really captures the devastating news of how this event played out.

The loss of life is beyond comprehension, but it’s also a shame that it overshadowed some really amazing Olympic moments, like Mark Spitz’ world record-setting seven gold medals in swimming – a record that wouldn’t fall until Michael Phelps did it in 2008.

Swimming is one of the few events Large talks about in the book, but he also briefly—much to Alison’s dismay–mentions Olga Korbut who became the “darling of Munich” in the gymnastics competition.

We also talk about one of the most controversial games in Olympic history, the finals of the men’s basketball tournament. In a Cold War battle, the USA was up against the USSR at the final buzzer, but an officiating decision put three seconds back on the clock, and eventually, the USSR scored at the buzzer to win. The US team has never accepted their silver medals. Claire mentions this documentary that tells the Americans’ side of the story.

Our next Book Club selection is The Suspect: An Olympic Bombing, the FBI, the Media, and Richard Jewell, the Man Caught in the Middle by Kent Alexander and Kevin Salwen. Perhaps the winner of the longest subtitle this year, this is a brand-new book—it came out just this week! Get your copy through our Amazon link, and your purchase will support the show. Also check out Listener Nicholas’ blog Olympic Rings and Other Things — he’s got a great post on it!

Follow Claire on Twitter and be sure to read her weekly Olympics blog, Light the Cauldron.

Even though Tokyo agreed to move the marathon and race walking events to Sapporo, the saga is far from over. We’ve got the latest installment of this maranovela, which still doesn’t answer the question of who’s going to pay for all of this.

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Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!


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