A nostalgic journey back to the first London Olympics of 1908 - an amusing and thought-provoking contrast to the forthcoming London Olympics of 2012
In the summer that saw the first successful flight of the Zeppelin, a 140 acre site of scrubland in West London was transformed into the White City, which housed the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition - and a state-of-the-art stadium built to house the first London Olympics. The Olympics were organised by volunteers in just 18 months and at a fraction of the cost of the modern Olympics and yet, just as today, the sport was overshadowed by doping scandals and caused international uproar. The ferocious competitiveness of a US team dominated by New York Irish Americans led to a succession of 'scandals' culminating in the historic marathon when Italian confectioner baker Dorando Pietri's heroic efforts at the limits of exhaustion so entranced on-lookers that track officials helped him across the finish line. Coinciding with the 100th Anniversary of the first London Olympics, this delightful social and sporting history - illustrated with over 70 contemporary images - provides a thought-provoking contrast to the forthcoming 2012 Olympic Games.
is a cultural historian, novelist and biographer. She is the author of a biography of Fanny Kemble, the nineteenth-century actress and celebrity. Rebecca lives in Durham.