Games of Deception: The True Story of the First U.S. Olympic Basketball Team at the 1936 Olympics in Hitler's Germany
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.
Afterword. “All-Time Olympic Basketball Results.” 1936 Team USA roster. Time line of 1936 Berlin Olympics. Bibliography. Index. Black-and-white photographs and reproductions.
JLG Release: Feb 2020
Awards & Honors
Tablet Best Jewish Children’s Books - 2019
Sydney Taylor Book Award Honoree - 2020
Praise & Reviews
Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:
Booklist*, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal
School Library Journal
9" x 7"
Scholastic Reading CountsN/A