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From Stoke Mandeville to Stratford: A History of the Summer Paralympic Games

As Aristotle once said, “If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development.” When Dr Ian Brittain started researching the history of the Paralympic Games after beginning his PhD studies in 1999, it quickly became clear that there was no clear or comprehensive source of information about the Paralympic Games or Great Britain’s participation in the Games. This book is an attempt to document the history of the summer Paralympic Games and present it in one accessible and easy-to-read volume. From the outset, it should be made very clear that this book is not meant to be an academic text. It has always been the author’s intention that it should be a resource for anyone with an interest in the Paralympic Games, their history, or Great Britain’s participation in the Games. Through twelve years of research, the author has brought together all of the facts, figures, and interesting stories that have occurred in the development of the summer Games—from their roots at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in the United Kingdom to the global mega-event they have become today. This is the first publication to include images of posters, winner’s medals, and other artefacts connected with the Games—some of which have never been seen in print. Every endeavour has been made to include all relevant information, and this text serves as an ideal starting point from which future researchers and historians may begin. As we have noticed recently with the increased documentation of Olympic history, it is the author’s hope that this text will inspire others to contribute to a more complete history of the Paralympic Games. A more complete history may lead to a better understanding of the importance of the Paralympic Games and their impact upon the lives of people with disabilities.