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Olympic Affair

A Novel of Hitler's Siren and America's Hero

Terry Frei

Though not a member of the National Socialist Party, Leni Riefenstahl was the filmmaker darling of the Nazis and Adolf Hitler. First a successful dancer and actress in Germany, she became more notorious when she produced and directed Victory of Faith and Triumph of the Will, the chilling documentaries about Nazi Party Congresses at Nuremberg.

Glenn Morris was an All-American farm boy from tiny Simla, Colorado, as well as a former college football star and student body president at the school now known as Colorado State University. At the 1936 Olympics, he won the decathlon, earning him the label “the world’s greatest athlete.” Among the American heroes at the Berlin Games, he was considered second only to Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals.

Riefenstahl and Morris: An unlikely couple? Perhaps, but in her 1987 memoirs, the German filmmaker belatedly confirmed she had an affair with the American athlete during the filming of
Olympia, Riefenstahl’s documentary about the Berlin Games. In fact, she portrayed it as much more than a dalliance, saying that she had dreamed of marrying Morris and that he broke her heart. Morris, who went on to Hollywood, the National Football League, and military service, spoke sparingly of the relationship, but mused late in life that he “should have stayed in Germany with Leni.”

Olympic Affair, author Terry Frei turns to historical fiction in a novel researched in much the same fashion as his widely praised works of nonfiction, including Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming and Third Down and a War to Go. Using deduction, imagination and narrative skill to augment documented fact (as well as debunk myths parroted for many years), Frei tells the story of their ill-fated affair . . . and beyond.

Read the first chapter of
Olympic Affair here.

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Taylor Trade Publishing
Pages: 336Size: 6 3/8 x 9 1/4
978-1-58979-698-0 • Hardback • December 2012 • $24.95 • (£15.95)
978-1-58979-699-7 • eBook • December 2012 • $11.99 • (£7.95)
Award-winning journalist, author, and screenwriter Terry Frei is in his second stint with the Denver Post. A native of Oregon, he has also written for the (Portland) Oregonian and the Sporting News; for eight years he was a featured columnist on ESPN.com. Among his previous books are Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming; 77: Denver, the Broncos, and a Coming of Age; and Playing Piano in a Brothel. He and his wife, Helen, live in Denver. His website is www.terryfrei.com.

Olympic sports, an international romance, and world politics on the eve of World War II collide in the electrifying Olympic Affair....This meticulously researched and historically accurate novel is illuminated with plausible fictional dialog, using the same readable approach as Alex Haley's Roots and Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace....Olympic Affair is simultaneously fun, informative, and thought-provoking.
Richard C. Haney, University of Wisconsin - Whitewater, Professor of History Emeritus, Author of "When Is Daddy Coming Home?: An American Family During World War II"

...a compelling look at an historic sporting event and a love/sex scandal cloaked in intrigue and danger. Frei’s style is reporter/novelist, cleanly balanced between event and character, offering a panorama of human triumph saddened by failure. Of the books I’ve read in the past four or five years, this one is near the top of the list.
Terry Kay, Author of To Dance with the White Dog and The Book of Marie

History tells us that decathlon champion Glenn Morris and Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl had an affair at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. In his riveting and richly researched novel, Terry Frei tells us what might well have happened between them, what was happening around them, and what it all might have meant had things ended a bit differently.
Neal Rubin, Columnist, Detroit News

[Frei] succeeds brilliantly. His research is impeccable and names are not changed to protect the guilty….This is history as historians seldom write it and should be required reading for everyone. Highly recommended.
David Milofsky, Professor of English, Colorado State University, novelist and author of Playing From Memory and A Friend of Kissinger

In a sad but revealing tale of history, heartbreak, and hometown heroes, Terry Frei has captured an era through a searing tale that leaves [the reader] convinced that the fiction surrounding a story that actually happened is really true. It is movingly written; you won’t put this one down!
Thomas W. Zeiler, author of Ambassadors in Pinstripes: The Spalding World Baseball Tour and the Birth of the American Empire

Few writers place sports in its proper sociological and historical context better than Terry Frei. In Olympic Affair, he takes it to new levels, weaving fiction and nonfiction together to create an absorbing sense of time and place, where the clouds of a coming war envelop the characters and the reader alike.
Luke DeCock, sports columnist, Raleigh News & Observer

[A] fascinating piece of historical fiction based on a true story . . .
Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

. . . Frei has an incredible knack for writing compelling books about subject[s] nobody [has] thought about writing. His Horns, Hogs and Nixon Coming was a terrific example of that but Olympic Affair is even better. . . . [It] is written with care and sensitivity and works on several levels—not only as straight entertainment but as a history refresher on what the world was like during that explosive time.

Dwight Jaynes, Comcast Sportsnet Northwest

Glenn Morris is a legend at Colorado State University, and the dialogue Frei gives to the great athlete in Olympic Affair makes him come to life. After decades of hearing the stories about Glenn Morris, the reader comes to know the man who came from Simla, Colorado, trained at Colorado's small agricultural college and gained fame in Berlin during the 1936 Olympics. The affair [between] Morris and Riefenstahl has intrigued historians for many years and Frei finally sheds light on a story that the finest Hollywood writers could only dream to imagine.
John Hirn, Founder of ColoradoAggies.com and author of From Aggies to Rams

In a world marching toward inevitable war, small-town boy Glenn Morris goes to Berlin in search of a gold medal at Hitler's Olympics—he finds much more. Olympic Affair author Terry Frei masterfully guides us through Morris' exhilarating, heartbreaking journey in a finely-detailed novel about sport, history, politics and a taboo love affair which forever changed the life of the world's greatest athlete. I couldn't put it down.
Salt Lake Tribune

How does a wide-eyed, college kid from rural Colorado wind up becoming a player in the rise of Nazi Germany before World War II? Simple. All Glenn Morris had to do was set a world record in the decathlon; go to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and, on his way to winning a gold medal, fall in love with a beautiful genius of a woman in Hitler's inner circle. We know all this to have actually happened, but Morris's affair with Leni Riefenstahl left many questions still unresolved more than three-quarters of a century later. Terry Frei not only poses credible answers in Olympic Affair, he writes them into a marvelous, chronologically told story that weaves lives and paths in a way that has the reader eager to see how they will unfold day after day, page after page. It is that rare volume that mixes history, politics, sport, racism, religion and romance in a didactic way that entertains rather than lectures. If Frei's book is made into a screenplay, the movie stardom that Riefenstahl promised Morris might finally become a reality.
Ron Flatter, National/international network radio news anchor

The hard part about historical fiction is taking the truth and providing a background story that is plausible and believable, and Terry Frei does exactly that in Olympic Affair. The story of Glenn Morris and Leni Riefenstahl flows from the start, painting the landscape of the world around them and how it ultimately affected the outcome of the couple, and eventually, the individuals involved. As it all unfolds, it becomes clear Frei let his research lead him to all the right conclusions. When reading historical fiction, one wants to be able to believe the story really could have played out in such a manner, and in Olympic Affair, Frei takes his readers down that very path.
Mike Brohard, Sports editor, Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald

This book knocked me out. I couldn't put it down. It's a wonderful read.
Peter Boyles, The Peter Boyles Show, KHOW-AM, Denver

Terry Frei’s unique writing style . . . bring[s] to life an incredible story about one of the most unique sports figures ever to come out of Colorado. While winning an Olympic gold medal in the decathlon, Morris, a farm boy from Simla, CO, also was having an affair with the Olympic filmmaker who had glorified Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany in earlier documentaries. Frei connects the dots in a way that is both believable and entertaining. Whether you’re a sports fan or not, Olympic Affair is a great read.
Kelly Lyell; The Fort Collins Coloradoan

Romance often blooms in the most bizarre of places. Olympic Affair is a historical novel delving into a potential and unusual coupling, drawing much from history and personal memoirs of German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl. Riefenstahl, famed and infamous for her connections to the Nazi party, is rumored to have had an affair with an American athlete. Through fiction, Terry Frei explores such a circumstance, naming the athlete as Jesse Owen's peer Glenn Morris. Olympic Affair is an unusual yet riveting read of historical fiction and romance, much recommended.
Midwest Book Review

The combination of the diligent research techniques . . . and creativity makes Olympic Affair a success as both a stand-alone novel and historical fiction. . . . Olympic Affair offers a chronicle that proves why athletic drama often goes well beyond the field (or track) of competition. An athletic controversy, a triumph against adversity or a love affair can bring together the fanatics, the casual followers and those who just happen to appreciate a good yarn, no matter the origin. And who better to tell a story of that kind than an acclaimed sportswriter and non-fiction author turned novelist?
Philadelphia Review of Books

An amazing read.
Steve Chavis, co-host of First Take with Lando & Chavis, KUVO (Denver)

. . . [T]urns a story of history into the kind of story only Hollywood could dream up for their next Charlize Theron blockbuster.

Romance often blooms in the most bizarre of places. "Olympic Affair" is a historical novel delving into a potential and unusual coupling, drawing much from history and personal memoirs of German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl. Riefenstahl, famed and infamous for her connections to the Nazi party, is rumored to have had an affair with an American athlete. Through fiction, Terry Frei explores such a circumstance, naming the athlete as Jesse Owen's peer Glenn Morris. "Olympic Affair" is an unusual yet riveting read of historical fiction and romance, much recommended.
Midwest Book Review