Format Hardcover
Publication Date 03/07/23
ISBN 9781639363513
Trim Size / Pages 6 x 9 in / 336

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Freedom to Win

A Cold War Story of the Courageous Hockey Team That Fought the Soviets for the Soul of Its People—And Olympic Gold

Ethan Scheiner

A classic David & Goliath tale, complete with colorful heroes, cold-hearted villains, and nail-biting games—with the hockey rink serving as an arena for a nation’s resistance.

During the height of the Cold War, a group of small-town young men would lead their underdog hockey team from the little country of Czechoslovakia against the Soviet Union, the juggernaut in their sport. As they battled on the ice, the young players would keep their people’s quest for freedom alive, and forge a way to fight back against the authoritarian forces that sought to crush them.

From the sudden invasion of Czechslovakia by an armada of tanks and 500,000 Warsaw Pact soldiers, to a hockey victory over the Soviets that inspired half a million furious citizens to take to the streets in an attempt to destroy all representations that they could find of their occupiers, Freedom to Win ranges from iconic moments in history to courageous individual stories. We will witness the fearless escape by three brothers who made up the core of the national team, thrilling world championship games and gold medal matches. We will watch as a one brave player takes a stand and leads ten thousand people in a tear-filled rendition of the Czechoslovak national anthem amid chants of “freedom!” while a revolution raged in the streets of Prague.

At the heart of Freedom to Win is the story of the Holíks, a Czechoslovak family whose resistance to the Communists embodied the deepest desires of the people of their country. Faced with life under the cruel and arbitrary regime that had stolen their family butcher shop, the Holík boys became national hockey icons and inspirations to their people. Filled with heart-pounding moments on the ice and unforgettable slices of history, Freedom to Win is the ultimate tale of why sports truly matter.

Ethan Scheiner earned his PhD at Duke University and served as a fellow at Harvard and Stanford University. He is currently a professor of Political Science at the University of California, Davis. His writing on sports and resistance in Cold War Czechoslovakia has appeared in the Washington PostStars and StripesPolitico, and The Daily Beast.  This is his first book.

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