Buford (Burt Lancaster: An American Life) covers Thorpe's life of "high triumphs and bitter despair" in extensive detail. Thorpe (1888–1953), a "mixed-blood" Sac and Fox Indian from Oklahoma who starred for the legendary Carlisle, Pa., Indian school's college football team, won the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, prompting the king of Sweden to declare him "the most wonderful athlete in the world." The next year, however, Thorpe was stripped of his gold medals after it was discovered he had violated the amateur athletic code by playing minor league baseball. The loss haunted him throughout his hardscrabble life in which he abused alcohol, married three times, constantly needed money, and was an absentee father. His peripatetic story included myriad roles: avid hunter and fisherman; professional baseball player in the major and minor leagues; pro football player; bit actor with often degrading nonspeaking Indian roles in many westerns as well as in other movies, including King Kong; merchant marine during World War II; security guard at a Ford plant; bar and restaurant owner; supporter of American Indian causes; and regular speaker on the lecture circuit. Buford reports the facts and dispels many fictions about this American icon.
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Buford gives a full account of the legend and tragedy of Native American sportsman Jim Thorpe, considered one of the greatest athletes of the twentieth century—ESPN picked him seventh, ahead of Willie Mays, Bill Russell, and Gordie Howe. Bill Crawford’s All American: The Rise and Fall of Jim Thorpe (2004) might be more popularly written, but Buford’s account, at some 170 more pages, brims with detail, all of it relevant to the telling, from the disastrous divvying up of Native American land that young Jim witnessed in 1890s Oklahoma; to Thorpe’s stellar performances in football, baseball, and track and field; to the stripping of his 1912 Olympics medals because he was paid to play baseball for two summers; and, finally, to the makeshift life he cobbled together after his playing days ended. Buford imparts a sense of the incandescent skills Thorpe applied to his sports, and the discrimination and self-destruction that shadowed him throughout his life. --Alan Moores --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
Wonderful book fit for a champion. Modern day history has hidden a hardworking athlete like Jim Thorpe. Read morePublished 7 months ago by dvelme
Kate Buford has written what is likely to definitive biography of Jim Thorpe. Jim Thorpe is considered by many to be the greatest athlete of the 20th century. Read morePublished 19 months ago by C. Baker
I was born just shortly after Jim Thorpe died and took an early interest in him. This book is carefully researched. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Roderick T. Leupp
Living 45 minutes from Jim Thorpe, Pa., and 90 minutes from Carlisle, Pa., I have always been fascinated by Jim Thorpe. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Eddie Smith
Grew up in this small Pennsylvania town and never really got a great history until now. A tremendous athlete who never really got the praise and honor that he so rightly deserves. Read morePublished on January 9, 2013 by PA Goddess
A well-written, intimate account of the subject's life, telling the good with the bad history of Jim Thorpe's complex life and career.Published on August 14, 2012 by bobbie snodgrass
My husband saw this book reviewed on TV. I ordered it and he began to read it. It was not appealing at all to him, and he loves this type of book. I would not recommend it.Published on June 9, 2012 by KDB
There is more than a touch of irony in that biographer Kate Buford's other major work chronicles the life of actor Burt Lancaster. Read morePublished on November 26, 2011 by Thomas J. Burns