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This review is from: In Black and White: The Untold Story of Joe Louis and Jesse Owens (Paperback)
In Black and White: The Untold Story of Joe Louis and Jesse Owens chronicles the breathtaking acheivements and the horrendous institutionalised racism that both of these amazing athletes suffered. Louis and Owens did more for their country than almost any other major figure during the 1930's and both also helped to highlight the terrible adversities that were heaped against them in everyday life. Both were world famous performers who were held up as the ideal representatives of their nation but they still couldn't sit down and have a meal in many parts of their own country due to the colour of their skin. Owens was finished as a serious athlete at 24, kicked out of amatuer athletics by the repulsive Avery Brundage (the man responsible for also barring Jim Thorpe from Amatuer athletics) purely for questioning why he was being kept away from his family for weeks on end in order to make the AAU a lot of money on a European tour while the athletes themselves made nothing. Owens struggles to find a place for himself as he slowly loses touch with the younger generation of track and field athletes coming through. His humiliation at the hands of John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympics will bring a lump to your throat. Louis donated purses from two fights to the Army and Navy relief funds and was chased remorselessly by the IRS for the taxes on them for years and years. His descent into debt, drug addiction and insanity makes for uncomfortable reading. At the end it is the German fighter Max Schmelling his most famous adversary, who Louis destoyed in his most famous fight, who does more for him than the country he was held up as a representative of in their meeting. Donald McCrae is an excellent writer and in Louis and Owens he has two excellent subjects to work with. Two of the most famous men of the Twentieth century in any walk of life are presented to us with all of their virtues and faults on display and both come out as fundamentally decent men who were treated very shabbily.