by Tony Perrottet
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO ATTEND THE ANCIENT OLYMPIC GAMES?
As the summer Olympics return to Athens, Tony Perrottet delves into the ancient world and lets the Greek Games begin again. The acclaimed author of Pagan Holiday brings attitude, erudition and humor to the fascinating story of the original Olympic festival, tracking the event day by day to re-create the experience in all its compelling spectacle.
Using firsthand reports and little-known sources — including an actual "Handbook for a Sports Coach" used by the Greeks — The Naked Olympics creates a vivid picture of an extravaganza performed before as many as forty thousand people, featuring contests as timeless as the javelin throw and as exotic as the chariot race.
Peeling away the layers of myth, Perrottet lays bare the ancient sporting experience — including the round-the-clock bacchanal inside the tents of the Olympic Village, the all-male nude workouts under the statue of Eros, and history's first corruption scandals involving athletes. Featuring surprising cameos by sports enthusiasts Plato, Socrates and Herodotus, The Naked Olympics offers essential insights into today's Games and an unforgettable guide to the world's first and most influential athletic festival.
"It's so great to have a truly funny (and poetic) writer putting the lurid colors back on the pale marble, where they belong. Perrottet's writing is not only witty (there are passages that make me laugh aloud) but he has that rarest of writers' talents — the knack for finding the perfect metaphor. I've quoted 'The Naked Olympics' more than any other book in recent recollection. It's full of what film-historian T. Gene Hatcher calls the 'get-a-load-of-this' factor — those those juicy, vivid stories you can't wait to tell your friends. To my mind, that quality is the distinguishing trait of great nonfiction."
"A vivid evocation of the blood and guts, not to mention sheer guts, that marked the original Olympic Games more than two thousand years ago. Tony Perrottet tells the gripping story of a festival of physical attainment during which athletes risked and sometimes lost their lives. Today's champions have it easy."
"Erudite, colorful and frequently hilarious, Perrottet's The Naked Olympics is a marvelous resource for athletes, spectators, and scholars alike. I will never watch the Olympic games in quite the same way again."
"Popular history at its best."
"Short of building your own time machine, reading Tony Perrottet's The Naked Olympics will be the closest you'll come to experiencing the blood, sweat, glory, and greed that were the ancient Olympic Games. Steeped in scholarship, leavened by humor, The Naked Olympics is one of those rare books that you'll be citing for years to come."
The Caesars Ride Again: Italians are renewing their love affair with Imperial Rome, (cover story in the October 2005 issue of Smithsonian Magazine)