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From The CriticsReviewer: David M. Peck, MD, FACSM, CAQ (Providence Hospital and Medical Centers)
Description: This book, proposed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Council of Sports Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE), and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), is an extensive historical account of the paralympic movement from its humble beginnings in 1948 to the international excitement of the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games. The author, a respected historian, was allowed access to the original minutes of the IPC meetings and to the IOC's research center which helped in the compilation of this huge undertaking.
Purpose: The author has set out to trace and interpret the phenomenon that has become the paralympic movement. This objective has been met successfully and the book serves as a testament to all those who have brought athletes with disabilities to their rightful place alongside Olympic athletes.
Audience: The book is written for a large audience including students, residents, physicians of all specialties, and anyone interested in the story of the rise to prominence of this awe-inspiring group of athletes.
Features: Amid the history of the paralympic movement, the human stories stand out to personalize and humanize the book. For example, there is Ludwig Guttman's strong desire to transform the life of a post-war wheelchair-bound patient, who had a life expectancy of eight weeks, to a thriving independent member of society and an active member of a world class sports team. The photographs of paralympians in action are another highlight of the book, but it would have enhanced the book even more if photographs from the earlier years were included. The organizational development of the IPC is well highlighted from its infancy to its designation in 1989 as the international group in charge of all paralympic groups.
Assessment: This book successfully takes on the task of chronicling the story of the paralympic movement. Along the way, readers are introduced to some of the strong characters who have helped get the paralympians to their current position on the international sports stage.