The Berlin Olympics of 1936 was perhaps the first games in which politics played a significant role. For this reason, it is considered to be one of the most controversial Olympic Games of modern times. But it was not just the politics of the Third Reich that cast it's shadow over the Games - other politicial considerations, particularly with regard to racial tensions, both Jewish and Black, made its mark. Surprisingly, the Jewish question was brought to bear on not only the selection of the German team, but also the American, in what must surely be a surprise to most readers. The long running dispute between "amateur" and "professional" athletes also raises its head. Hilton delves into each of these issues and how they came to bear upon the Games. The organization of the Games is also discussed, including Hitler's dominance of the process.
Of course, the Games is not just backroom politics. After all, it is the world's largest sporting event, and the sporting participants and their endeavors come under scrutiny. The star of the Games was undoubtedly Jesse Owens. But Hilton has also thrown the spotlight on other athletic notables, including the lesser lights of the American track and field team, along with Hendrika Mastenbroek, whose efforts in the pool were largely overlooked, despite winning 3 golds. There is passing comment on the gender controversy between Helen Stephens and Stella Walsh, two track athletes competing for Britain and Poland respectively. It is not just the athlete's sporting endeavors that is discussed by Hilton, but also what became of many of them afterwards.
A previous reviewer has commented on the style of the author's writing: "And that was the seventh day." I too found this tedious. Christopher Hilton has almost informal style at times to his writing. While it works for his racing car driver biographies (his books "Ayrton Senna: The Hard Edge of Genuis" and "Alain Prost" are superb) it does not come off so well here. It should have been toned down in my opinion. Nonetheless, this is really a minor bugbear. "Hitler's Olympics" is a good account of the 1936 Berlin Games and is well worth a look for an insight into the personalities, politics and competitive endeavors of one of the most controversial Olympic Games ever. At the conclusion of the book, there is a statistics section, which lists the medal winners of the Games, along with comparisons (where possible) to the 2004 Athens Games. "Hitler's Olympics" also includes an insert of black and white photography.