George Hirthler, author of The Idealist

Gateway to Dreams: The statue of Coubertin in Centennial Olympic Park, commissioned by the United States Pierre de Coubertin Committee in 1995

“After 20 years of writing Olympic bid campaigns—traveling the world with this glorious moving circus, attending the last 12 winter and summer Games—I decided it was time to focus on the greatest untold story in the history of the Movement: the story of Pierre de Coubertin. Although I have been studying his life for the last 25 years—and knew I wanted to write his story—it wasn’t until the second half of 2011 that I was able to figure out how to make his life as interesting on the page as it was in my imagination.

I decided that historical fiction would give me the most leeway and license. Historical fiction uses fact to create a framework for imaginative interpretation. It allows the writer to surround real personalities with fictional characters—and to create conversations and actions that reveal the possibilities of past events with an immediacy otherwise lost. In The Idealist, I wanted to remain as true as possible to Coubertin’s history while building a compelling and hopefully inspiring narrative. While most of the events, dates and places that represent Coubertin’s drive to resurrect the Olympic Games are accurate, the backstory and the description of the events and conversations themselves are all fiction. Some historic settings and dates have been shifted for dramatic effect.

Like Pierre, I have an abiding love for Paris. The fact that he was born there and came of age along the streets I still love to roam—around landmarks that still enthrall—inspired me to believe that I could find a way to take the reader into his life and times. And that has been my singular goal in writing The Idealist—to give anyone interested imaginative access to the heart and soul of a man who gave our world its unrivaled global festival—that grand repeating celebration of humanity that arises like a colossus every few years to remind us that the things we have in common are far more powerful than the things that divide us.”

—George Hirthler, Author

George Hirthler: A Professional Profile

George Hirthler is regarded as one of the leading writers and campaign strategists at work in the Olympic Movement today, helping Olympic bid cities build their brands, tell their stories and perform at their best on the international presentation stage.

Over the last two decades, he has served as a leading communications strategist for ten Olympic bid cities. The campaigns of Atlanta 1996, Istanbul 2000, Stockholm 2004, Klagenfurt 2006, Beijing 2008, Vancouver 2010, NYC2012, Salzburg 2014, Chicago 2016 and Munich 2018 have benefited from his insights, passion and drive for excellence. He also wrote the theme for the Beijing 2008 Olympics, One World, One Dream, and the winning bid for the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games for Innsbruck 2012.

In the process of helping these cities, he has written nearly 3,000 pages of bid books and campaign collateral, countless film scripts and presentations. He has served as a strategic consultant to the International Olympic Committee, the United States Olympic Committee, the Commonwealth Games Federation, numerous Olympic Organizing Committees and Olympic sponsors. In 1996 he was awarded the Chevalier in the Order of Arts & Letters by the Republic of France for his work in promoting the Olympic Ideals through the United States Pierre de Coubertin Committee, which he founded three years earlier. In 2004 Sports Business Magazine named him one of the 20 most influential people in the Olympic Movement for his Olympic bid work.

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