Why is hosting the Olympic Games so important to China? What is the significance of a quintessential symbol of Western civilization taking place in the heart of the Far East? Will the Olympics change China, or will China change the Olympics? Susan Brownell sets the historical and cultural contexts for the 2008 Beijing Olympics Games by placing it within the context of China's hundred-year engagement with the Olympic movement to illuminate what the Games mean to China and what the Beijing Olympic Games will mean for China's relationship with the outside world. Brownell's deeply informed analysis ranges from nineteenth-century orientalism to Cold War politics and post-Cold War "China bashing." Drawing on her more than two decades of engagement in Chinese sports, the author presents evocative stories and first-person accounts to paint a human picture of the passion that many Chinese people feel for the Olympic Games. It will also be essential reading for journalists and sports enthusiasts who want to understand the fascinating story behind the Beijing Olympics.
This book is very good reading. Through the pages of Beijing's Games, you will learn more about this Olympic's history, host country, host city, and invitation to be the 'people's Olympics.' Midwest Book Review Offering insightful, informed analyses, Brownell provides an understanding of the importance to China of hosting the 2008 summer Olympic Games and of what the games mean for China's relationship with the outside world. Brownell highlights historical and cultural context... The author has personal experience in the Chinese sports world, and she brings a human side to understanding the importance and passion felt by the Chinese as hosts of the 2008 Olympic Games... This book tells an intriguing story and helps the reader to understand the Olympics from a Chinese perspective. CHOICE If you're looking for something a bit more brainy, try Beijing's Games: What the Olympics Mean to China by Susan Brownell. Brownell's book tracks China's use of the Summer Olympics as a firework-studded coming out party on its quest to elbow into the high society of the world's superpowers. Book Examiner Beijing's Games is a well-written and lively account of sports in contemporary Chinese public culture and politics. It offers a timely context for understanding the issues surrounding the Beijing Olympics. It is a must-read. American Anthropologist Brownell's book contain[s] withering accounts of decades of the International Olympic Committee's clumsiness in handling the two-Chinas problem... Brownell, herself a top track-and-field athlete who participated in the 1986 Chinese National College Games when she was an exchange student, corrects misrepresentations about athlete-automatons, genetic engineering, and child abuse. The New Republic From our many conversations spanning more than a decade, I am aware of the exhaustive research and effort Susan Brownell has devoted to understanding China's sports and Olympic culture. One need not agree with all of her assessments and conclusions to appreciate the scholarship and perspective found here. -- Bob Costas, NBC Sports Susan Brownell's Beijing's Games: What the Olympics Mean to China takes the reader on a compelling tour of the myriad factors that had to converge in order for the 2008 Games to be held in Beijing. As a former topflight athlete who speaks Chinese and trained and competed with Chinese women teammates, Brownell has a strongly personal take on virtually every facet of her story: the nationalist and legal implications of Taiwan's case, the missteps of sports announcers, the history of stadium design, problems with steroid use, charges of child abuse in the athletic training process, the pressures on Chinese members of the IOC, gender stereotyping in the media, the claims of China's own martial 'wushu' tradition to be classified as an Olympic sport. This is a thoughtful and often outspoken book that will be of value not just to those traveling to Beijing in August 2008 for the Olympics but also to all those interested in the foibles and the future of international sports competition at the global level. -- Jonathan D. Spence, Yale University; author of The Search for Modern China No other American and very few Chinese are as well qualified as Susan Brownell to interpret Chinese Olympic history in its social and cultural context and to imagine what the 2008 Olympics will do to change China and what China might do to change the Olympic movement-for the better. -- Allen Guttmann, Amherst College; president, North American Society for Sport History
Part 1 Introduction: What the Olympic Games Mean to China Part 2 Chapter 1: Europe and the People without Sport History, or What Hosting the Olympic Games Means to China Part 3 Chapter 2: The Clash of Cultures: Martial Arts and Olympic Sports Part 4 Chapter 3: Symbols of State Power: Stadiums and National Identity in Beijing Part 5 Chapter 4: What Women's Sports Mean to China Part 6 Chapter 5: Mixing Sport and Politics: China and the International Olympic Committee Part 7 Chapter 6: "China Bashing" at the Olympic Games: Why the Cold War Continues in Sport Journalism Part 8 Chapter 7: Will the Olympics Change China, or Will China Change the Olympics?