Audiobook Review: The Ration Book Olympics by Clare Balding

The Ration Book Olympics
by Clare Balding (Narrator)

Publication date: March 8th 2012
Publisher: AudioGo


The 1948 Olympics were very different from the impressive spectacle that London put on in 2012. Three years after the end of World War II, Britain was still gripped by austerity. Rationing was still in force, severe bomb damage was still much in evidence, and no new sports facilities could be built. Visiting athletes were put up in schools and RAF camps. Yet the Games were a resounding success and actually made a profit. Clare Balding meets athletes who competed in 1948, including cyclist Tommy Godwin, who won two bronze medals, and Dorothy Manley, who won silver in the athletics. She also talks to Roger Bannister, who saved the day for the British team in the opening ceremony. The program also includes fascinating voices from the archives, including Dutch sprinter Fanny Blankers-Koen, who won four gold medals.

Source: Goodreads


I chose this audiobook from my local library as I’m a fan of the Olympics and have previously enjoyed Clare Balding as a narrator. I’m not sure it’s fair to call this short snippet an actual book, as it’s not available in print and is actually more like an episode from a podcast or radio show. Although I can’t be certain, I imagine it started on radio and then later found it’s way into this format.

In just under an hour, Clare narrates and interviews a number of people who are talking about the 1948 Olympics and their experiences of the time. Quite interestingly, this includes athletes who competed in the games. This recording was put together before the London 2012 Olympics and it’s clear that there were some huge differences between the two!

Post-war Britain and 2012 Britain were completely different hosts for the Olympics and it was quite fascinating to hear about all of the different aspects. Most interesting for me was learning about the selection process and how it varies so much to present day and also the support provided by competing countries to help the host nation at a time when they were still recovering from the war. I never really thought about how things like rationing would have affected such a competition until today and it was nice to hear that the support was there in a time of need.

This is an interesting recording which I would recommend if you’re at all into the Olympics and have a spare hour. I found it on my local library app and it’s possible you will too!

Overall rating: “The Ration Book Olympics” is less of an audiobook, more a podcast or radio episode, but it’s still an enjoyable and interesting insight into the 1948 Olympics. I learned quite a lot in this quick one hour listen and would like to learn more about the subject – 4 stars!

Thanks for reading! What did you think of this book? Or if you haven’t read it, would you like to? Drop me a comment and say hello!


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