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Munich 1972: Tragedy, Terror, and Triumph at the Olympic Games [Kindle Edition]

David Clay Large

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David Clay Large's Munich 1972 is an almost ideal matching of historian and subject. Mr. Large has written one excellent book about Munich under the Nazis and another on the Berlin Olympics of 1936. Moreover, he was in Munich in 1972. In this superb chronicle, Mr. Large evokes the febrile atmosphere of that time and place, as the sporting festivities that were supposed to celebrate Germany's return to the fellowship of democratic nations turned into a nightmare: the ideology-driven murder of Jews on German soil... Many Germans still regard the Munich massacre as the darkest day in the history of the Federal Republic, yet to date Germany has not commemorated the victims properly. With the captivating Munich 1972, Mr. Large offers a memorial of sorts-and a reminder that, long before 9/11, a war on Western civilization, emanating from the Middle East, had already been declared. Wall Street Journal Outstanding... [A] meticulous reconstruction of the tragedy... Large has turned up fascinating material in archival research... Munich 1972 is a massively researched, eminently readable history. Although his prose is calm and his approach evenhanded, for most readers his book will evoke astonishment, exasperation, and, finally, grief. Jewish Review of Books To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany-where outstanding performances by U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz and USSR gymnast Olga Korbut were overshadowed by the slaying of 11 Israeli team members by Palestinian gunmen-Montana State University history professor Large (Nazi Games: The Olympics of 1936) provides a densely detailed look at what he calls 'history's first globally televised act of terrorism.' Using newly released sources, he chronologically explores the political, social, cultural, and athletic dimensions of the Games of the XX Olympiad, focusing on the hostage crisis that began on Sept. 5 when members of the Black September organization broke into the Olympic Village's Israeli living quarters, claimed hostages, and demanded the release of 236 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. The subsequent standoff and botched rescue attempt resulted in the deaths of all the captives and most of their captors. Though the deadly stalemate takes up the bulk of Large's book, and will therefore make this comprehensive take on the games appeal primarily to historians, the author doesn't forget his sports fans. While the tragedy unfolded, the games continued on, and Large devotes considerable attention to the many athletic feats and conflicts. Publishers Weekly Large (history, Montana State Univ.; Nazi Games: The Olympics of 1936), a specialist on German history, here addresses the many factors that resulted in the lax security at the 1972 Olympics, thus facilitating the tragic assault on the Israeli athletes by the Palestinian organization Black September. Large explores numerous themes in his analysis, including economic costs, international race relations, international and domestic security threats, and pressures of the games themselves. Rather than losing the narrative with so many themes, he writes with such depth and detail that each element melds seamlessly with the others. VERDICT While seemingly a daunting and complex subject, this is an encompassing, detailed, and engaging account for serious readers not only of the Olympics themselves and the Munich 1972 games, but of shifting international pressures and the effects that historical and social conflicts can apply to even declared apolitical events. Large's emotions come through in his judgment of lapses and of the terrorism we have confronted over the years. Those interested in the multiple shifting global influences on sports and politics will find this a valuable addition to their collections. Library Journal David Clay Large has written a captivating history of the 1972 Munich Olympics. Munich 1972 is both terrific sporting history and a gripping chronicle of the Black September terror attack that took the lives of eleven Israeli Olympians. It is a tale of human frailty, incompetence, and unintended consequences. It will surely stand as the definitive history of a turning point in the Olympic saga. -- Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and author of Crossing Mandelbaum Gate This fluent, measured, and thorough book is a worthy successor to David Large's fine earlier study of the Nazi Games in Berlin. Once more, Large uncovers surprising twists in an ultimately tragic story and adeptly skewers the pretensions and hypocrisies of the modern Olympic movement. -- Peter Hayes, Northwestern University Read this book! Munich 1972 is a sad, important, morally complicated story with many unexpected details and shocking revelations. What makes it a page-turner, as well as an elemental bit of 20th-century history, is that its author is a real writer-sometimes caustic, always humane-as well as an eminent historian of modern Germany. David Large, the wry professor, has done it again. -- David Quammen, author of The Song of the Dodo and Spillover A gripping account of the 'Olympics of Terror,' when the games went on, despite the tragedy that arguably signaled the new challenges and dangers of our world. Well-researched and crafted, Munich 1972 is an excellent, haunting book, one that matters even more now. -- John Merriman, Yale University Superb book... Large, an American scholar of contemporary Germany, adds to his impressive stack of books with a gripping, finely researched chronicle of those Games set against the backdrop of the tumultuous politics of the 1960s and 1970s. The National This timely book reminds readers that politics have always shaped the Olympic Games. A respected authority on the Third Reich, Large explains how the XX Olympic Games in Munich marked a turning point in Olympic and sports history generally. He thoroughly details the murder of Israeli athletes by pro-Palestine Black September terrorists. The author's description is especially valuable because he places the attack within the larger contexts of contemporary international tensions (Cold War, Vietnam War protests, African decolonization, Middle Eastern conflicts) and West Germany's attempt to distance itself from the so-called 'Nazi Olympics' of 1936 Berlin. Munich 1972 also describes the first superexpensive Olympic Games, complete with artist competitions, extravagant ceremonies, and huge building projects. Large pays great attention to the competition itself and writes vibrantly about many sports. The book therefore nicely blends the work of scholar and fan... This thoughtful, readable piece on a major event of the modern era will appeal to many people. Summing Up: Highly recommended. CHOICE Munich 1972: Tragedy, Terror, and Triumph at the Olympic Games is by far the most comprehensive treatment of the Munich tragedy. Just about every detail, personality, and emotion is given both a caustic as well as humane treatment. Large's exquisite and eloquent literary style makes this book a very reader friendly book, a page-turner from beginning to end; a joy to read, yet a somber and sober literary experience to behold and remember. The Jewish Star This is a detailed account of the Games, focusing on the lax security measures that lead to the attack on Israeli athletes. Large provides a complete recounting of the games, from the decision of the International Olympic Committee to select Munich as a site to the closing ceremony. A German history specialist at Montana State University, Large's analysis is all encompassing including both domestic and international terror information. This highly detailed account is for anyone wanting an inside look at what goes on behind the scenes at the Olympics. Pekin Daily Times The most scarring Olympics are covered in the exceedingly good Munich 1972: Tragedy, Terror, and Triumph at the Olympic Games. David Clay Large, a Montana State University history professor, writes with bite, had access to new sources, and brings intense context. Boston Globe A detailed and well-written history of the Munich Olympics. The massacre naturally plays a central role but the book is much more comprehensive ... as a chronicle of a problematic Olympic era where politics were central before, during, and after the Games. Large succeeds by focusing on the sporting events rather than politics, telling a compelling story from multiple perspectives... His book will hold great appeal not only for those who remember the dramatic events of these Games, but also for those interested in Olympic history from an organizational, economic, and political perspective.


Set against the backdrop of the turbulent late 1960s and early 1970s, this compelling book provides the first comprehensive history of the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, notorious for the abduction of Israeli Olympians by Palestinian terrorists and the hostages’ tragic deaths after a botched rescue mission by the German police. Drawing on a wealth of newly available sources from the time, eminent historian David Clay Large explores the 1972 festival in all its ramifications. He interweaves the political drama surrounding the Games with the athletic spectacle in the arena of play, itself hardly free of controversy. Writing with flair and an eye for telling detail, Large brings to life the stories of the indelible characters who epitomized the Games. Key figures range from the city itself, the visionaries who brought the Games to Munich against all odds, and of course to the athletes themselves, obscure and famous alike. With the Olympic movement in constant danger of terrorist disruption, and with the fortieth anniversary of the 1972 tragedy upon us in 2012, the Munich story is more timely than ever.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 3384 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 396 Seiten
  • Verlag: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; Auflage: 1 (16. April 2012)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B007ZRTA2U
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
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  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #667.944 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.3 von 5 Sternen  10 Rezensionen
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5.0 von 5 Sternen 1972 - Year of Olympic Tragedy 5. Mai 2012
Von Howard J. De Nike - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The intersection of sports and politics - perhaps "collision" is more apt - never possessed more poignancy than the 1972 Munich Olympics. Who better then to chronicle that story than the historian, David Clay Large, author of a definitive work on its only rival, the 1936 Berlin Olympiad? ("Nazi Games" [2007].)

German soil provides obvious continuity, but there are other ties too, most prominently in the person of Willi Daume, former Nazi and member of the 1936 German Olympic basketball squad, who as a post-war German sports official became the chief proponent of Munich's bid to host the Games. Daume is joined by the persistent figure of International Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage, who as head of the USOC in 1936 rejected the effort to mount a games boycott against Nazi racism.

Today, four decades later, Black September's attack upon Israel's Olympic team so thoroughly overshadows the athletes' performances, that the latter are about as well-remembered as the identity of that year's long-forgotten mascot, "Waldi" the Bavarian Dachshund. To his credit, Large weaves the athletes' feats, some prodigious - Mark Spitze's seven gold medals, Olga Korbut's gymnastic triumphs, into the unfolding drama of attempted kidnapping and violence.

The Cold War politics of two Germanys, the surreal U.S.-Soviet championship basketball game with two endings, a drug-testing regime more laughable than real, all make their way smoothly into Large's engaging narrative.

The ultimate reward of "Munich 1972" is its contribution to the place of a quadrennial cult-of-the-body festival in the world. In this sense it's a highly serious work; it's also a darn good read.

Howard De Nike, Cultural Anthropologist
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Meticulous Research Combined with a Narrative Flair 8. Mai 2012
Von rinehart - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Frank Rettenberg, Retired Foreign Service Officer
My first reaction to this book was "Why hasn't anyone written a comprehensive history of the Munich Olympics before? True, there is a substantial body of literature covering the Black September attack on member of the Israeli team, but this Olympics included so much more of compelling intrest, both to sports history buffs and veterans of the cold war like myself: stellar athletic achievements, marred by amateurish officiating and the consumption of "performance enhancing drugs;" the first major exploitation of the Olympic Games for commercial as well as political purposes; efforts by both the Soviet bloc and the West to use the Games for their competing propaganda objectives; and the furious jockeying between East and West Germany for recognition as THE sovereign state representing all German citizens. Prof. Large has mined old files and records for a wealth of fascinating detail, but does not allow all the nuiggets he has unearthed to stand in the way of telling a good story. He gives every topic, every controversy, its due, and while the Palestinian assault is covered in full, significantly, it occupies far less than half of the entire book.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen The Business of Olympic Games 25. September 2012
Von C. McClelland - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
David Clay Large's MUNICH 1972 will be a fascinating read for many and was a page-turner for me. Large not only proves here as in previous books that it IS possible to write well-researched and beautifully-written history for laypersons. He examines every imaginable aspect of the Olympics enterprise in an engaging way. Anybody who has attended (or even watched on TV) the quadrennial rituals will be enlightened by his thorough and unromantic analysis of the political, financial, psychological, media and (yes, that too!) athletic aspects of these Games. Having lived through one (Rome 1960) as a young reporter, I found his insider view explained a lot of the bizarre aspects I had never quite grasped about "my" Olympic experience. Large illuminates why disappointment and disillusionment have often accompanied, at least since 1972, the hype and real athletic achievements of the Olympiads.

Aside from these insights, Large delivers a careful and balanced comment on the insouciance (at least) of the organizers about Security - leading to the tragedy of the Black September hostage crisis with the death of Israeli team members - as well as serious questions about the ability of any host city since to provide both safety and a good time for all, let alone what all host cities aspire to: a chance for urban development with no dire consequences of financial burdens or international shame. In this respect the book makes a serious contribution to the economic and social history of postwar Germany, as well.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen "They were the most beautiful Olympics ever to have been wrecked" 26. April 2012
Von Jill Meyer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
David Clay Large's book, "Munich 1972", is a well-written examination of the 1972 Olympics. Beginning with the background of the games - why was Munich chosen as the host city, particularly after the memories of the Berlin 1936 Summer games - and how did internal West German politics play out in the "landing" of the Games. The Federal Republic of Germany (FRG - West Germany) was in heated competition with the German Democratic Republic (GDR - East Germany) on a whole range of issues, beginning with the "politics of sport" and ending with the "sport of politics". And if the two Germanys were at odds, so were various other countries and political systems. The sentiment of Muncheners was not always in favor of hosting the Games; cost overruns, overcrowding, and just general disruptions of daily activities during the Games clouded the positives that came with the "honor" of being awarded the 1972 Olympic games. But, as is usually the case, the politicians won out and Munich was chosen.

In the six year run-up to the Olympics, factions worked together on all parts of the presentation of the games. Special thought was given to security at the games but the memories of the Berlin 1936 games with oppressive, heavy security was also in the mix. No one wanted a repeat of those games and so police and other Munich officials erred on the side of putting basically unarmed men as guards at the Olympic village for these "friendly" Olympics. The Village itself was not surrounded by high fences and there was little stopping of athletes coming and going. All was going well until the evening of September 5th.

I think people today have tended to forget the terror groups who were active in the 1970's and 1980's. Certainly there were many; the list included German radicals, the IRA, and, of course, Arabs protesting Jordan's King Hussein, Egypt, and Israel. It was "Black September", whose murky origins and beliefs were splayed onto the front pages of newspapers and televisions world-wide, who kidnapped and murdered nine Israeli athletes from their apartments in the Olympic Village. Helped along by the inept response of the German government security services, the world was again looking at Jews murdered on German soil. The powers-that-be of the games - Avery Brundage among them - don't come out looking too good in their response to continuing the games after the massacre.

Author Large does a good job at fitting the "terror" parts of the Munich games together, but doesn't fail at looking at the triumphs of many of the athletes who competed there. It's a good, all-round telling of those
games and their hopes for a coming-together of athletes that ended in tragedy.
5.0 von 5 Sternen Fascinating Book 4. Dezember 2012
Von Dallas Guy - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
I'm only about 25% through the book - but I'm finding it absolutely fascinating regarding the history, selection and run-up processes to the '72 Munich games. I was only 15 when the the games commenced and the ensuing events were broadcast all over the news. One can only cringe at the thought of this event happening now in this era of "fill 24 hours with the event at all costs" mandate. Anyways, the horrible events notwithstanding, it's a great look at the background processes that were in place (and still probably are) in place to get a city selected for an Olympiad. If nothing else, the book is exquisite in it's detail regarding that process. As I said, I was 15 when that Olympiad took place. Three years ago, My wife and were actually THERE in Munich visiting the Olympic village (and viewing Munich and the Village from the Munich TV tower on a very windy day) trying to imagine the events that occurred there. I hope to gain more than just a simple understanding of the sad events that occurred. The history provided on the back story of the Olympiad being placed there, and the problems and challenges faced by the organizers, from everything to cost overruns to the failures in security are here. So the events and places have come to life for me in reading this. Even though I'm not finished with it, I give it TWO THUMBS UP!

ADDENDUM: I am now about 2/3 of the way through the book. I still give it two thumbs up, but I've found a couple of discrepancies. As I was reading descriptions of the sporting events and competition, I had another browser window up, where I used YouTube to pull up video for whatever it was I was reading about at the time. This gives me some more context and realism to the reading. In one instance, Large described actions of the terrorists in gaining access to the Olympic Village - and that some of the terrorists were aided in jumping a chain link fence by drunken American athletes. It actually has been admitted that Canadian Water Polo players unwittingly assisted the terrorists. "Robert Thompson was a Canadian Water Polo player at the 1972 Munich Games during the Black September hostage crisis. He tells the story of what happened the night terrorists entered the Olympic village. Video by Steve Russell."


Also, during the narrative describing the closing ceremonies and Avery Brundage's closing speech, Large noted when Brundage was departing the stage, the large sign in the stadium displayed "Thank you Avery Bandage", when in fact, it said "Thank you Avery Brandage". Just wanted to be clear in that as I pulled up a video on the closing ceremony.

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