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Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World by David Maraniss
With Rome 1960, author David Maraniss examines the 1960 Summer Olympics that were held in Rome during a time of societal change with regards to minorities and women, while also being at the height of the Cold War. It not only featured the first African-American to carry the flag during the opening ceremonies (Rafer Johnson), but introduced the world to the charismatic Cassius Clay who would become Muhammad Ali four years later. Sprinter Wilma Rudolph won gold after suffering through childhood polio and teenage childbirth and insisted on an integrated celebration of her victory when she returned to Tennessee. Ethiopian marathoner Abebe Bikila won gold running barefoot through the streets of a country that had occupied his homeland just 25 years earlier. Rome 1960 has received mixed reviews with the Washington Post saying, "Maraniss does a splendid job of resurrecting these heroes from almost a half-century ago, and of reminding us why we like the Olympics: They are days devoted to spirited young people with rare talents and tremendous discipline who vie for a moment in the sun that, for all but a few, is swiftly eclipsed by the triumphs of another day."