28 October 2016
Göran R Buckhorn writes:
Yesterday, a new rowing book landed on my desk, Six Minutes in Berlin: Broadcasting Spectacle and Rowing Gold at the Nazi Olympics by Michael J. Socolow, who is associate professor of communication and journalism at the University of Maine.
This is the story about nine poor boys from University of Washington in Seattle who managed to beat Eastern Ivy League crews to represent the United States in the eights at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, where, against all odds, the American crew overpowered the favourites for the top medals, Germany and Italy, and took the gold. Does it sound like you have heard this story somewhere else, or even read a book about this event? Ah, you must be thinking of the best-selling book The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, who published his story about the Washington boys in 2013.
However, it was Socolow who first stumbled over this underdog story back in 1999, when he was completing his research for a doctorate in history at Georgetown University. After pursuing his academic career, in time for the Olympic Games in 2012, he managed to sell an article about the ‘boys’ story’ to an editor at Slate, who published it as the centerpiece of their London Games coverage. Socolow, who earlier had struggled to find a literary agent, a publisher or a magazine editor interested in the story, was suddenly approached by a number of people in the publishing industry who were willing to read his manuscript about the Olympic rowing champions from Seattle. And then the whole thing died….. and Brown’s book came out.
Read Socolow’s interesting story how he got ‘scooped’ here.
Six Minutes in Berlin is, on the other hand, not a one-story book. As an associate professor of communication and journalism, Socolow re-wrote his story and pitched it to an academic press. His second story in the book is about modern broadcast sport journalism, which was born at the Berlin Games.
Six Minutes in Berlin will be published on 14 November by University of Illinois Press. Read more about it here.
HTBS will publish a review of Six Minutes in Berlin later in November.