The Boys of Winter
The 1980 U.S. men’s hockey team was a ragtag bunch of amateurish blue-collar guys who were led by a charismatic coach. When they went skate-to-skate with the Russian men’s hockey juggernaut at the height of the Cold War, they managed to pull off a victory, which we’ve come to know as “The Miracle on Ice.” Sportswriter Wayne Coffey’s book gives an ice-level view of the action, weaving profiles of the players and coach with a play-by-play of the game for an exhilarating read.
In the 1930s, as tensions mounted toward the Second World War, speed was paramount and bobsledding was the sport du jour at the 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. Dangerous and thrilling, the sport required great skill and even greater courage. In the midst of the Great Depression, Americans followed the stories of the four-man bobsledding team—Jay O’Brien, Tippy Grey, Eddie Eagan, and Billy Fiske—as they dealt with bothersome officials and competed against the opposing German team.
Fire on the Track
In the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, Betty Robinson competed in what was only her fourth-ever organized track meet, yet she crossed the finish line first and was named the fastest woman in the world. Her career was nearly dashed, however, when a plane she and her cousin were piloting crashed, and she was pronounced dead. But Robinson wasn’t quite dead, and though she could barely walk, she earned herself a spot on the 1936 Olympic team with grit and determination. An incredible story of the power of persistence and how one woman’s pioneering role paved the way for other female athletes.
Jules Boykoff, a former soccer player for the U.S. Olympic team, dives into the political history that often surrounds the Olympic Games, from their 19th-century origins to today. Modern-day Olympics are plagued by corporate control, and the building of Olympic villages often displace indigenous people from their land. This no-holds barred history of the modern Olympic Games provides insight into the backdrops that athletes have been competing against for decades.
The Boys in the Boat
Daniel James Brown
This New York Times-bestseller tells the improbable story of nine working-class men from the American West who formed an eight-oar crew team and defeated elite rowing teams from the U.S. East Coast, going on to compete in the Olympic Games in Nazi Germany in 1936. The individual stories of the young men are woven with the tale of their rise from obscurity to their triumph over Hitler’s German team in Berlin. An inspiring underdog story that will have readers white-knuckled with suspense.
Age Is Just a Number
Four-time Olympic gold medalist Dara Torres was a 41-year-old new mother when she came out of retirement and staged her Olympic comeback in Beijing. In this memoir, she writes about what it took for her to dive back in to her sport, being older in a younger person’s game, having a new take on competition, self-doubt, and perseverance, and what it felt like to have America cheer her on.
There’s nothing like watching the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games when that familiar music plays and athletes from all over the world gather to compete on an international stage. It’s inherently inspiring and goosebump-inducing. As the world prepares for the start of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China (and then Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy in 2026!), we’re grabbing one of these stirring stories about triumph at the Games and the quest for the gold medal. From historic games set against the backdrop of Nazi Germany to memoirs by modern competitors, each book is sure to inspire awe in its reader.
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