George Hirthler – Author, The Idealist – The story of Baron Pierre de Coubertin

George Hirthler is one of the leading creative talents at work in the Olympic Movement today. A writer/producer, Hirthler is a seasoned campaign director who has served as chief communications strategist for ten international Olympic bid campaigns, including the winning bids of Atlanta 1996, Beijing 2008 and Vancouver 2010.

Through two decades of Olympic research, Hirthler became increasingly interested in the life of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, and increasingly astonished that this remarkable man was so widely unknown. In 1996, the Republic of France awarded Hirthler the title of Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters for his work in promoting the Olympic Ideal and the legacy of Baron Pierre de Coubertin.

In 2004, Sports Business Journal named Hirthler one of the 20 Most Influential People in the Olympic Movement for his work on bids. In 2011, Hirthler turned his attention to historical fiction and four and a half-years later, finished The Idealist, the first major novel on the life and times of the founder of the modern Olympic Games.

A graduate of Temple University’s School of Theatre and Communications, Hirthler lives in Atlanta with his wife, Carole.

Storyline of The Idealist

It’s January 1937. Baron Pierre de Coubertin has just turned 74. He’s broke, his health is failing, and although he has created one of the most influential international movements of the 20th century, he is completely unknown outside a small circle of admirers. Angry at their losses, his wife can hardly withhold her bitter animosity, his son is tragically impaired, his daughter is battling mental illness, and his great creation is about to fall into the hands of a Nazi madman leading the world to war. Hope arrives when a new ally appears. Jacques St. Clair from Le Petit Journal in Paris, the world’s leading Olympic sportswriter, moves to Lausanne with his American fiancé, the painter Juliette Franklin, to spend a year writing the baron’s biography. Once St. Clair begins the interviews, Coubertin is rejuvenated as his story unfolds in scenes that flash back through the past seven decades. The young couple becomes fully immersed in Coubertin’s life—as Juliette begins to paint the baron’s portrait—and both are deeply affected as his health declines and the race to finish the interviews faces an increasingly impossible deadline.

The Idealist is a vivid portrait of an extraordinary man set against the backdrop of transformation that gave us the splendors of Paris in the luminous years of the Belle Époch. Hirthler’s meticulously researched writing evokes a vivid historical panorama of the birth of the modern Olympic Movement through the eyes of the man who made it happen. In the pages of this novel, we are transported to the front rows of history and immersed in the untold story of Coubertin’s unrelenting drive to create our world’s greatest celebration of humanity.

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