Despite its apparent successes the Olympic movement faces an uncertain future. The present controversy surrounding the upcoming Peking games reveals that the movement has been in a state of nearly permanent crisis. Hoberman examines the Olympic doctrine and its most important proponents: Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the movement; Carl Diem, the impressario of the & Berlin (Nazi) Olympiad of 1936; and Avery Brundage, the long-time president of the IOC (1952-1972), the sponsor of Soviet entry into the games, and a controversial figure in the history of American sport. Hoberman furthermore analyzes the American-led boycott of the Moscow games in 1980-- and debunks the idea, heard often, that a fully attended Olympiad could have initiated change in the Soviet Union. Finally, the author offers the first survey of anti-Olympic critiques across the political spectrum, and concludes with a critical examination of the popular conviction that the Olympic Games remain valuable as a cosmopolitan festival of reconciliation.