Olympic Dreams Collide with Politics and Propaganda in New Book “PLAYED: The Games of the 1936 Berlin Olympics”

Written from press release:

WINTHROP, Mass. — The 1936 Berlin Olympics, hosted by Nazi Germany, were a spectacle intertwined with propaganda, political machinations, and athletic triumphs. This complex narrative is explored in the new book “PLAYED: The Games of the 1936 Berlin Olympics” by writer and movie producer Richard Kaufman and co-writer/producer Glenn Allen.

Adolf Hitler played host to the games, while Avery Brundage, a notorious antisemite, led the American Olympic Committee. Innocent athletes from around the world were caught in the crosshairs of a regime marked by racial bias and antisemitism. The book delves into why other countries allowed their athletes to participate in an event so deeply enmeshed in Nazi propaganda.

“That journey is so dramatic, that once you get to the games, the accomplishments of the athletes mean so much more,” Kaufman said in a recent interview. “Everybody knows about Jesse Owens and how he won four gold medals, but you don’t really know the path he took to get there.”

“PLAYED” is the culmination of 25 years of meticulous research, offering readers a sweeping historical saga enriched with drama, comedy, espionage, tragedy, and triumph. The book provides a fictionalized yet deeply researched account of the insanity and hysteria that unfolded across Germany, the United States, and the world from 1931 through 1936.

Central to the U.S. controversy is Brundage’s unwavering support for participation in the Berlin Games, despite the Nazi regime’s anti-Jewish doctrines. His ambition to join the International Olympic Committee drove his efforts, culminating in a favorable vote that ensured American participation.

AP Sports Editor Alan J. Gould, a champion of the athletes, traveled to Berlin to cover the events. Through his perspective, readers witness Brundage’s complicity with the Nazis, the resilience of American athletes, and the extreme pressure on German athletes. The stories of these athletes, filled with heartbreak and heroism, extend beyond the playing field.

“PLAYED” also features appearances by prominent historical figures such as Mae West, Charlie Chaplin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Joseph Goebbels, Leni Riefenstahl, Eva Braun, and Adolf Hitler.

“Of course, we can’t go back in time and change history insomuch as we can change the outcome of a sporting event,” the authors noted. “But we’re obligated to study history because it teaches us how to move forward. At least we hope it does.”

About the Authors

Richard Kaufman and Glenn Allen have collaborated for over 25 years, developing numerous projects, including scripted feature films, docuseries, and television series. They have co-written and produced two award-winning independent films under the Green Bandana banner, a TV/film development company they co-founded in 2015.

For more information, please visit www.greenbandana.org.


“PLAYED: The Games of the 1936 Berlin Olympics” is published by WordServe Publishing and is available for purchase on Amazon and BN.com.

  • ISBN-10: 1733170758
  • ISBN-13: 978-1733170758

Praise for “PLAYED”:

“A brilliantly written, absorbing book which puts the full impact of the ’36 Olympic games—and its aftermath—into proper perspective. Seldom does a book immediately draw you in like this one does. An important book about a critical time in world history.” — Erik Sherman, New York Times bestselling author

“As a fan of The Boys in the Boat and Citizens of London this novel did not disappoint. A clever and captivating look behind the scenes of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. I couldn’t put it down.” — Daniel P. Hanley, Academy Award-winning editor, Apollo 13

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