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June 2022 Vol. 59 No. 10

Reaktion Books

The following review appeared in the June 2022 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email

Science & Technology
Sports & Recreation

Vamplew, Wray. Games people played: a global history of sport. Reaktion Books, 2021. (Dist. by Chicago.) 454p index ISBN 9781789144574, $27.50; ISBN 9781789144567 ebook, $27.50.

This monograph offers a delightfully quirky, unusually personal take on the history of sport around the world. Covering the history of global sport is an ambitious undertaking, but Vamplew (emer., Univ. of Stirling) gives it his all, exploring a commendable range of sports and a variety of sporting issues. Though he focuses more on Western sport, particularly sport in the US, Europe, and around the former British Empire, he does mention sport in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America, and other locales. Notably, Vamplew also calls for additional research on indigenous sport in a global context and sport for average people and those who have lost in sporting events. Although he focuses largely on men's sport, the author does discuss some women's sporting efforts (e.g., soccer, water sports) but makes almost no mention of transgender athletes' struggles in the gender binary of sport. The text addresses a wide range of sporting controversies, drawing examples that range from political and sport business narratives to stories of drug issues and gambling activities, among many others. The book provides a fun overview of sport history, and the author's personal anecdotes amusingly reveal his perspectives and biases. This is an excellent introduction to the broad topic of global sport history.

--S. K. Fields, University of Colorado Denver

Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers.