Image - author and hockey players
Past Event

Ethan Scheiner: Freedom to Win

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 mighty Soviet Union, the juggernaut in their sport and the superpower in their neighborhood. 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.

Join us as University of California, Davis, political science professor Ethan Scheiner, whose research focused on the intersection of politics and sports, discusses what he found out while researching and writing his new book 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

From the sudden invasion of Czechoslovakia 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, Scheiner tells a story that ranges from iconic moments in history to courageous individual stories. At the heart of the tale is 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.


This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Bernard Osher Foundation

Photo by Steven B Studios.

December 7, 2023

The Commonwealth Club of California
110 The Embarcadero
Taube Family Auditorium
San Francisco, CA 94105
United States

Image - Ethan Scheiner

Ethan Scheiner

Professor of Political Science, University of California, Davis; Author, 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

Image - Steven Boyd Saum

In Conversation with Steven Boyd Saum

Executive Director of Strategic Communications and Content, Saint Mary’s College