Games of Deception: The True Story of the First U.S. Olympic Basketball Team at the 1936 Olympics in Hitler’s Germany

Philomel. Nov. 2019. 240p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525514633.
Gr 7 Up–Readers will discover an incredible story where separate worlds from across the Atlantic collide. Maraniss traces the history of basketball including its invention and growing popularity in the United States leading up to the 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin. By 1936 in Germany, Hitler had gained power and started to persecute Jewish people. But because the world was watching, the Germans projected the false image of an idyllic city in order to hide the true horrors of living under the Nazi regime. The 1936 games marked the first time basketball was featured at the Olympics, and the U.S. team saw firsthand the German’s propaganda surrounding this historical event and the state of the country. 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. An exciting and overlooked slice of history.

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