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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 February 2014
Five HISTORIC Stars Sports writer and ESPN "Sports Center" anchor Jeremy Schaap reveals Jesse Owens as not just a beloved American 'sports icon', but also a towering figure on both the international sports and world history stages. The only athlete to be singled out in the world history books for his very notable international athletic achievements during the Olympic Games just prior to Hitler's scourging of Europe in the runup to World War II. Mr Schaap reveals new insights about Jesse Owens in Berlin. And the Jesse Owens/Lutz Long friendship and it's aftermath are truly moving. He is also the central figure in the greatest one-hour period of individual sports achievements, ever.

This book also the details who 'discovered' Jesse Owens, who helped him hone his God-given talents, a day-by-day detailing of the Berlin political and sports environment and Owens' 1936 Olympic triumphs, the AAU incident, what happened to Jesse Owens when he triumphantly returned from the 'Hitler Olympic Games' and how differently he was treated as opposed to today's self-possessed, rich athletes; what he did to earn money after track & field; and what he ultimately died from. Along the way, the author debunks one of the greatest myths in Olympic history and Owen's role in it. And, truth be told, the book details the racism of that period. This is a marvelous, well-written book by Jeremy Schaap that spotlights a singular athlete and human being: a man who 'wrote' a chapter of sports history that every true sports fan should know. Jesse Owens was the quintessential "amateur athlete" of the 20th Century. My Highest Recommendation!!
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on 15 November 2011
I bought this book not knowing a huge amount about Jesse Owens; only the staple information that he won four gold medals in 1936 and the consequent impact of his victory in the face of Hitler's ideals. Aside from other bits of information that, among other sources, I read in Carl Lewis' book 'Inside Track', that was about all I knew of this sporting legend.

Jeremy Schaap's book is a good balance of the travails of Jesse Owens leading up to the 1936 games; including his then-rivals in the sprints/broad jump (long jump), his coaching, and development as an athletic star and bona fide celebrity despite the racial prejudice which infested the USA at the time. This is intertwined with the grandiose ambitions of Hitler and his associates in stamping their authority in the games, and their intention to do so long after 1936.

The book gives a very good insight into the double standards of the American government and sporting bodies at the time, particularly in the middle of the book where we learn the potential US boycott of the 1936 games was a very real possibility.

Whilst the book doesn't exactly give much personal opinion on Owens, it does give real depth to the impact of both his participation and his subsequent achievements. Schaap, on the whole, gives a very good balance to all aspects of the Owens' story, without over-indulging either the athlete or the ideals.

I personally enjoyed the book immensely; however, potential buyers should be aware that more politics and historical social commentary is present than in the vast majority of books on notable sportspeople. If you don't mind the frequent history lessons - which do serve to put Owens' games in context - then I would recommend this book without reservation. Those only interested in tales of sporting prowess may find difficulty digesting much of this work.
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on 25 January 2009
This book is about Jesse Owens indeed but I find as an extremely fascinating detail about this book is that their was one, Eulace Peacock, part-Cherokee who was the one man who seemed to be able to equal Jesse Owens in the USA in trying out for the Olympics and in collegiate track and field events and Peacock missed out on the Olympics due to a torn hamstring, how strange fate can be, that these two men were so close to each other's ability, if not for that torn hamstring, we could be talking about Eulace Peacock along with Jesse Owens in regards to the 1936 Olympics, as it is, Peacock is more of a footnote in US Track and Field history although he actually defeated Jesse Owens in 7 out of 10 100 yard dashes between the two.

Otherwise, one character in the book briefly mentioned is a Dr. Wilhelm Gustloff. Not mentioned in the book, is that a Ship was named after him and that ship sunk in 1945 to be the largest Maritime disaster ever recorded, it may have been a hospital ship in fact. Of course, Gustloff was associated with the Nazi party.

All of this might go to say, this book is more than about Jesse Owens and the 1936 Olympics, Luz Long being another part of the whole story, a German Long jumper who in fact, was Owens competitor but selflessly aided Owens with advice that may have helped Owens to another gold medal. Long seems to be a true hero who became a fatality during World War II.

Yes, I've read the other reviews and perhaps Schaap has interjected some personal views but I'd still grade this the full five stars for telling us this vibrant story. The build up is fascinating and concise in telling of some of Owens' early life and the build up of the Olympics. Too, I'm happy that Schaap relates to us information about the Olympic Committee, Avery Brundage and the AAU. Clearly, we frown upon people saying Olympics should be boycotted from time to time such as to our efforts in China or the 1980 games. But Schaap and other authors point out information that I believe shows that some of our American Olympic officials may not be fair as well. One example was the treatment of Jim Thorpe and there are many others throughout the years. Schaap gives press accounts from back then and then, to the year 2008: I will read Epoch Times on the internet in covering the Beijing Olympics and I see parallels though in this case, attending the Olympics seems to have been the best thing to do. As for the 1936 question, maybe we should have passed on those Olympics that the Nazis hosted; but from the book, it seems the German public were truly enamored with Owens, the world's greatest athlete.

Lastly, the book does build up to the Olympics, maybe it is like the first 2/3rds of the book is the build up and then once in Berlin, the book seems to go at a very fast pace, understandably but it does cover Jesse Owens and what a sprinter, I appreciate him even more after this book as opposed to the modern sprinters we might have seen in Beijing or Athens or Sydney in recent years. On the back of the book is the quote: "You think you know about Jesse Owens, you think you know the whole story about the '36 Olympics. Think again"- Mike Lupica. To this, I only thought, I wouldn't claim to know about those '36 Olympics barely an iota. All we hear about it seems is how Jesse won those gold medals back then. This book informs us about that event extremely well.

Just to add slightly to this review, Great Britain is in fact mentioned in the book a few times as the winter games are briefly covered where Team GB won the ice hockey competition though not specifically mentioned and also there reception in Berlin at the opening games ceremony when all of the teams march. In fact, I believe Jesse found himself short of a pair of kangaroo leather running shoes in Germany and so they first opted to try to get some purchased and sent over from Great Britain, so this book should be of interest to readers over there as well.
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on 9 April 2016
For anyone wanting to know to what extent the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin were used by Hitler's government as a propaganda tool both at home and abroad, this passage from the semi-official German photo album "Olympia 1936" would be a valuable starting point. On p. 14, the text describes the official opening ceremony and the entry of the teams into the stadium; a photograph shows Hitler walking side by side with the (half)-Jewish organizer of the Games, Theodor Lewald (* 1861 in Berlin, + 1947 ibid.).

The description (my translation) states i.a.:

"… Nation follows nation, wherever the banners pass they are greeted by arms and shouts … The variety of the [peoples of the] world is reflected in the kind and the shape, in the color and the cut of their garments … Applause and approval greet them all. But at times the jubilations reach an even higher level; for example when the proud sons of France, marching behind their tricolore, greet the Führer … with the German salute. … The final act is most impressive: the USA and Germany. For the German public … America is the greatest achiever in sports …".

The athletic events are covered extensively and illustrated by some 30 photographs, with about a quarter of them showing colored (mostly US) athletes; one of them has Jesse Owens and the German athlete Luz Long (silver medal in the broad jump behind Owens) stretched out on the lawn side by side in a friendly discussion.

As far as the lanes are concerned, the athletes would usually draw lots, with the innermost lane normally left free if at all possible; the 100 m dash was won by Owens running on lane 2. The home stretch, used for this event, had a total of seven lanes.

Anyone interested in copies of photographs or pages of text is invited to get in touch with me. Here's an example, showing Luz Long and Jesse Owens resting and chatting during the broad jump competition.

TD
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on 25 June 2011
This book was well researched and readable, providing a sporting and historical context to this most famous of Olympic victories. The book finished rather suddenly and anti-climatically for my personal taste, but I accept the focus of the subject matter was narrow
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on 11 May 2016
Enjoyed by my husband.
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on 24 October 2015
Good book
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