Bookbeat: February 1997

The Modern OlympicsThe Modern Olympics: A Struggle for Survival

by David Young, Department of Classics
(The Johns Hopkins University Press)

The 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta mark the centenary of the modern Olympics. The man universally credited with reviving the games is Baron Pierre de Coubertin, believed to be solely responsible for the vision behind Olympiad I in Athens in 1896. Now, in The Modern Olympics, classicist David Young challenges this view, revealing that Coubertin was only the last and most successful of many contributors to the dream of the modern Olympics.

- Publisher


This commonplace of Olympic history and Coubertinian biography is substantially true - except for the premise, which contains a fundamental error. Coubertin did not get the idea to revive the Olympics on his own; he got it from Dr. W. P. Brookes. Even his notion that France lost the 1870 war to Germany because of physical degeneracy was not original with the baron, nor did it derive only from the French sources often suggested. He probably got that idea, too, mainly from Brookes.

Vietnam Protest Theatre: The Television War on Stage

Vietnam Protest Theatreby Nora Alter, Department of German & Slavic Languages and Literatures
(Indiana University Press, 1997)
Available through Amazon

The escalation of the war in Vietnam in the mid-1960s unleashed worldwide protest. Playwrights grappled with the complexities of post-imperalist politics and the problems of creating effective political theatre, and for much of their audience the war was chiefly an event on the evening news. The ephemeral theatre these writers created, today little-known and rarely studied, provides an important window on a complex moment in culture and history.

- Publisher


The political dynamism of antiwar plays owed much to the emergence of a new avant-garde in theatre in the sixties. Conversely, when the avant-garde eventually declined in the seventies, principally in America but also in Europe, so did the parallel drive toward political theatre. True, the end of the Vietnam War was bound to bring about a natural end to Vietnam Protest Theatre regardless of the role played by the avant-garde. But, since that time, various other political issues raised a vocal public controversy and yet, in the absence of a strong theatrical avant-garde that would take them up, they failed to generate a significant protest on the stage.

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