It's not just how you play the game; The Politics of the Olympic Games, by Richard Espy. Berkeley: The University of California Press. $10.95.

That politics have been, are, and will be inextricably enmeshed with international sport is not a new thought; however, no single volume has examined the connection as thoroughly and exhaustively as does Richard Espy's timely book.

Using a wide range of sources, he begins with the 13th Olympiad, the years 1944-1948, even though the summer games began again in 1896 and the Olympic Winter Games began officially in 1924. Though there were political skirmishes before his jumping-off point, most notably the 1936 Nazi Olympics in Garmisch and Berlin, the real action did indeed begin after World War II.

We get panoramic views of such postwar controversies as the German question, the South African question, the birth of GANEFO (Games of the New Emerging Forces) in the early 1960s, and the black athletes' revolt in 1968.

Espy stopped the chronology with the last Olympics (no prediction intended). But he warned that the "Olympics had become a vehicle for the achievement of ulterior interests" and that "by 1976 the individual, the athlete, the youth of the world played a role of secondary importance in the Olympic Games." He had no way of knowing, of course, that we would be where we are today. He did, however , know where we have been and has told that story rather well. A must for Olympic junkies, politics junkies, and especially the hybrids among us.

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