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Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics Paperback – February 5, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Written as though the film treatment were already completed, Schaap's chronicle of Jesse Owens's journey to and glorious triumph at the 1936 Berlin Olympics is snappy and dramatic, with an eye for the rousing climax, through curiously slight on follow-through. Starting with Owens as the well-feted ex-athlete in the 1950s, Schaap (an ESPN anchor and author of Cinderella Man) flashes back to Owens's childhood in 1920s Cleveland, where junior high coach Charles Riley spotted his astounding physique and near limitless potential for track and field. Owens seems so perfectly made for running and jumping that the following years of ever-increasing athletic and popular success are less exciting than preordained. By the time the "Ebony Antelope" (as one of many adoring newspapermen had anointed him) was ready for Berlin, his success was practically guaranteed. The real drama of Schaap's book, which surprisingly skimps on Owens the person, comes in the politically fractious runup to Berlin (for the ceremony-obsessed Hitler, "a fascist fantasy come true"). While the story has been told many times, Schaap makes good use of his prodigious research and access to the Owens family, even digging up the fact that Owens's oft-repeated claim he was snubbed by Hitler and the Berlin crowd was very likely untrue. (Feb.)
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There are many aspects about Owen’s story that Schapp writes about beyond the wins on the track. From the coaching of Larry Snyder at Ohio State to the story about how Owens became one of the members of the 4 x 100-yard relay team to the alleged “snub” by Hitler after Owns won his first medal, there are many different subplots that are recalled in great detail. The story of the “snub” is very interesting in that the myth is dispelled by Owens himself by recalling that Hitler waved at him after his first medal. It was only later during the lecture circuit did the story of the snub become well known.
Not everything written is about Owens, either. Schapp wrote very good pieces about filmmaker Leni Reifenstahl, the American boycott of the games that almost happened and the controversy about leaving the two American Jewish runners off of the relay team in which Owens replaced one of them and won his fourth medal. Avery Brundage is also prominently portrayed in the book. These and other aspects of the 1936 Olympics make the book complete and an excellent source of information on this topic.
The only thing that could have made this better would have been a little more coverage of life after the Olympics for Owens as the book does not make it clear what really became of Owens after that historic event. But if the reader wants to learn about the Jesse Owens story of how he became a person who singlehandedly dispelled a dictator’s vision of domination through the simple acts of running and jumping, then this is the book to read.
statement that Hitler did not shake his hand. Owen explains the situation accurately, and stated that the one that snubbed him was Roosevelt who did not invite him to the White House, nor did he congratulate him, He said Roosevelt invited the other White Olympians to the white house. The book also describes the time leading to the Berlin Olympics , At that time many organisations did not want US to participate due to the Nazi suppressive regime. Owen also describes how he ended up competing for his 4 th Gold medal where he was not supposed to be..
Very interesting read and factual about the great Jessie Owen.
I love the way he desired to have schooling and care for his small family. So many sacrifices were made in his life and then you think of of the mental anguish of the prejudice against his race, this was a time when people did not respect a person for their talents, abilities and kindness.There were others in our society who were disregarded because of birth defects who did not have a fair chance in life.
Jesse Owens and his coach were heroes for being able to overcome and give it all they had to develop the talents and opportunities for him to find a place on the Olympic team for the USA. Then to arrive and find the social beliefs of Hitler were even worse, but he endured and gave his all. I was touched by the friendship he developed with the Luz Long which endured for years after the Olympics. This book is well worth reading because of the basic values it teaches, that many of us have seen in our own lives in a different manor.