Silent Gesture: The Autobiography of Tommie Smith (Sporting) Paperback – 4 Jun 2008
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"An important entry in the history of track and field and African American studies." Library Journal "The book offers insights into Smith's athletic prowess...When he describes the physical sensations of running -- the paradoxical relaxation of muscles required to explode out of the blocks, the adrenaline that floods the body as a sprinter takes the get-set position and the stride-by-stride account of the 1968 gold medal race -- Smith's narrative surges to life. A major aim of the book is to explain the motivation behind the silent gesture, but Smith isn't interested in trenchant political analysis...Readers of Silent Gesture will be left with a stark impression of the toll Smith paid for speaking out against racism. He views his autobiography as his last, desperate chance to pull himself out of the 'muck and mire he's been stuck in since the Mexico City Olympics.' Smith never expresses regret for having taken his controversial stand." The Washington Post "Smith's account is told in simple but eloquent fashion, tempered by a healthy dose of irony and humor. He never romanticizes his actions, but rightfully acknowledges their powerful social impact." Smooth "Read Silent Gesture for the story of an athlete who grabbed a chance to make a difference." The Seattle Medium "The reader is given a good sense of his family's small-town home in Texas...Smith's book doesn't lack for honesty." Bookforum "Smith's candid reflections on life after Mexico City is compelling...Most striking, though, are revelations about the stresses he endured before the 1968 race...For Smith, at 24, to have not only won the gold, but to have issued his anything-but-silent gesture from the world's biggest stage, makes his story all the more extraordinary." Black Issues Book Review "With the help of Steele, Smith offers a well-documented and clearly written story behind the memorable 1968 Olympic moment...Extensive background information about Smith's life before, during and after the 'silent gesture' provides understanding and insight about an Olympic image that will endure forever. Clearly presenting the fears, the disappointments, the triumphs, and the hopes, then and now, that the raised black fists represented in 1968, this book offers a wealth of information that will help the reader understand the deep-rooted meaning of the gesture and the impact it continues to have almost 40 years later. CHOICE August 2007 "What is the worth of this book? I believe it to be one that accurately portrays Tommie Smith's life and Olympic ordeal...We have waited a long time for this book. The result is worth the delay...Silent Gesture provides, by far, the most powerful punctuation mark in explaining one of the most historic of all Olympic moments." Olympika: The International Journal of Olympic Studies "Smith's stories of his ostracized life post-1968 Olympics offer historians another opportunity to consider the multiple ways memory shapes the popular narrative... Smith uses his book as an opportunity to tell his truth...[which is] engaging." The Journal of Sport History
About the Author
David Steele is Pastor Emeritus of Christ Presbyterian Church in Terra Linda, San Rafael, Callifornia. He is the author of several books, a frequent public speaker and retreat leader, and columnist for "The Presbyterian Outlook".
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Top Customer Reviews
In Silent Gesture, Tommie Smith, who won gold, re-lives the events of that occasion and explains just what the gesture represented.
We hear of his humble upbringing in Texas, how his athletic prowess helped him gain a better education and how being a world record holder enabled him to give a higher profile to the Olympic Movement for Human Rights.
He tells of his relationship with team mate and fellow protester John Carlos and the fears for his life and that of his family after the Games.
Clearly there is still some bitterness and Smith has not, and probably never will come to terms with how he was treated by the establishment.
The writing also seems in parts, to be quite laboured; however I would still recommend this to anyone interested in sporting biographies.