When James Naismith invented the game of basketball in Springfield, MA in 1891, he did not foresee bearing witness to its Olympic debut in 1936 in Berlin, Germany. The fourteen-player roster chosen to represent USA could not foresee bearing witness to Hitler’s Germany. This is the true story of the players, the propaganda, the political climate, the protests, the patriotism, the nationalism, the athletes, the Jews, the Germans, and the game of basketball.
*"Rivaling the nonfiction works of Steve Sheinkin and Daniel James Brown's The Boys in the Boat....Even readers who don't appreciate sports will find this story a page-turner." --School Library Connection, starred review
*"A must for all library collections." --Booklist, starred review
Winner of the 2020 AJL Sidney Taylor Honor!
From the New York Times bestselling author of Strong Inside comes the remarkable true story of the birth of Olympic basketball at the 1936 Summer Games in Hitler's Germany. Perfect for fans of The Boys in the Boat and Unbroken.
On a scorching hot day in July 1936, thousands of people cheered as the U.S. Olympic teams boarded the S.S. Manhattan, bound for Berlin. Among the athletes were the 14 players representing the first-ever U.S. Olympic basketball team. As thousands of supporters waved American flags on the docks, it was easy to miss the one courageous man holding a BOYCOTT NAZI GERMANY sign. But it was too late for a boycott now; the ship had already left the harbor.
1936 was a turbulent time in world history. Adolf Hitler had gained power in Germany three years earlier. Jewish people and political opponents of the Nazis were the targets of vicious mistreatment, yet were unaware of the horrors that awaited them in the coming years. But the Olympians on board the S.S. Manhattan and other international visitors wouldn't see any signs of trouble in Berlin. Streets were swept, storefronts were painted, and every German citizen greeted them with a smile. Like a movie set, it was all just a facade, meant to distract from the terrible things happening behind the scenes.
This is the incredible true story of basketball, from its invention by James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1891, to the sport's Olympic debut in Berlin and the eclectic mix of people, events and propaganda on both sides of the Atlantic that made it all possible. Includes photos throughout, a Who's-Who of the 1936 Olympics, bibliography, and index.
Praise for Games of Deception:
A 2020 ALA Notable Children's Book! A 2020 CBC Notable Social Studies Book!
"Maraniss does a great job of blending basketball action with the horror of Hitler's Berlin to bring this fascinating, frightening, you-can't-make-this-stuff-up moment in history to life." -Steve Sheinkin, New York Times bestselling author of Bomb and Undefeated
"I was blown away by Games of Deception....It's a fascinating, fast-paced, well-reasoned, and well-written account of the hidden-in-plain-sight horrors and atrocities that underpinned sports, politics, and propaganda in the United States and Germany. This is an important read." -Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Newbery Honor winning author of Hitler Youth
"A richly reported and stylishly told reminder how, when you scratch at a sports story, the real world often lurks just beneath." --Alexander Wolff, New York Times bestselling author of The Audacity of Hoop: Basketball and the Age of Obama
"An insightful, gripping account of basketball and bias." --Kirkus Reviews
"An exciting and overlooked slice of history." --School Library Journal
About the Author
Andrew Maraniss studied history at Vanderbilt University and as a recipient of the Fred Russell-Grantland Rice sportswriting scholarship, earned the school's Alexander Award for excellence in journalism. He then worked for five years in Vanderbilt's athletic department as the associate director of media relations, dealing primarily with the men's basketball team. The son of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author David Maraniss and trailblazing environmentalist Linda Maraniss, Andrew was born in Madison, Wisconsin, grew up in Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas and now lives in Brentwood, Tennessee, with his wife Alison, and their two young children. His first book for adults, Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South, was a New York Times nonfiction bestseller.
More Praise for Games of Deception:
"Maraniss’s well-researched book includes many period photographs that enhance the narrative. VERDICT This book is a smart read-alike for fans of Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat or its young adult adaptation. It would also add to any student’s study of the origins of World War II and the eventual involvement of the United States." --School Library Journal
"History and sports fans will find common ground here, as Maraniss’ passionate narrative, a gallery of period photos and realia, sports charts, bibliography, and a planned index in the bound book draw readers into the inevitable debate: should we have gone?" --The Bulletin ofthe Center for Children's Books
"Andrew Maraniss has developed a knack for topics that explore the intersection of sports and politics....This book will appeal to readers of all ages who want to know about the seamy side of the Olympics."--Chapter 16
"Maraniss is an effective storyteller who skillfully paints a picture of the past." --BookPage
Praise for Strong Inside:
*"This moving biography is thought-provoking, riveting and heart-wrenching, though it remains hopeful as it takes readers into the midst of the basketball and civil rights action."--Booklist, starred review
"Even if you're not a history buff, this important story is worth your time."--Sports Illustrated Kids
"A must purchase for any middle school or high school library."--Miss Yingling Reads