In 1936, Adolf Hitler welcomed the world to Berlin to attend the Olympic Games. Visitors from all over the globe came to see not only a magnificent sporting event, but also a showcase for the newly rebuilt Germany. No effort was spared to present the Third Reich as the world's newest power. Swastikas fluttered next to the Olympic rings from the balconies of freshly painted buildings. Butter was hoarded weeks in advance in order to convince visitors that there were no shortages. There was even a pause in the implementation of anti-Semitic measures. But beneath the surface, the Games of the Eleventh Olympiad of the Modern Era came to act as a crucible for the dark political forces that were gathering to threaten the world.
The 1936 Olympics were nothing less than the most political sporting event of the last century. Far from being a mere meeting of sportsmen and-women, it was an epic clash between proponents of barbarism and those of civilization, both of whom tried to use the Games to promote their own values. Berlin Games is the complete history of those fateful two weeks in August that would foreshadow the bloody conflict soon to come. It is the story of the athletes, from their often humble beginnings to the glory of the Olympic Stadium. It is also an eye-opening tale of the Nazi machine that attempted to use the Games as a model of Aryan superiority and fascist efficiency. Furthermore, it is a devastating indictment of the manipulative figures—including politicians, diplomats, and Olympic officials—who vied for power and glory in different sorts of games whose results would have profound consequences for the world.
Drawing on original research and interviews with surviving participants from all over the world, Walters has produced a history filled with intrigue, sport, sex, and infamy. Berlin Games is a definitive and remarkable record of a time that still fascinates and haunts us to this day.
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Guy Walters is the author of The Traitor, The Leader, The Occupation, and The Colditz Legacy, all of which were bestsellers in the U.K., and coeditor of The Voice of War, an anthology of World War II memoirs. A regular contributor on historical subjects for the Daily Mail, Walters was a journalist for The Times (London) for eight years, where he worked as a feature writer and commissioning editor. He is married to the author Annabel Venning and they have two children.From Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. An iconic cast of athletes and political figures shares an international stage in this complex and engaging account of the planning, execution, and aftermath of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Demonstrating an impressive and well-controlled sense of scope, Walters transitions between the International Olympic Committee debates regarding Germany's political situation, the individual stories of certain key athletes, and the world-wide perception of Hitler's regime as seen through the contemporary press. The pervasive and sometimes cunningly subtle anti-Semitism that pervaded all aspects of 1930s Germany provides a provocative thread that Walters follows diligently, teasing out the truth behind the Nazi propaganda and exploring the motivations of part-Jewish German athletes, such as Helene Meyer, to conform, at least outwardly, to Nazi ideology. Walters also follows the legendary Jesse Owens, debunking some of the myths surrounding his performance in the '36 games (Hitler probably did not personally snub Owens, for example) and replacing them with the equally impressive reality of his accomplishments. Throughout, Walters lays on the pathos without falling into melodrama or sports cliché. Instead, his rigorous journalism relies on succinct summations of his characters' histories, which prove both even-handed and generous. Walters strays from objectivism only in his tireless maligning of the Nazi agenda, providing the work a righteous momentum.
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