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Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics
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Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  777 Ratings  ·  114 Reviews
From the ESPN national correspondent and author of the New York Times bestseller Cinderella Man comes the remarkable behind-the-scenes story of a defining moment in sports and world history.

In 1936, against a backdrop of swastikas flying and a storm troopers goose-stepping, an African-American son of sharecroppers won a staggering four Olympic gold medals and single-handed
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Sean Gibson
Jan 15, 2016 Sean Gibson rated it it was amazing
Reviewed this for Kirkus waaaayyy back when it came out:

Great book, if you're into this sort of thing.
Nov 07, 2009 Rob rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
An absolutely fantastic read!
The author does a wonderful job at painting just how once-in-a-lifetime talent Owens really was, while not deifying him or making him into an icon without defects. It's pretty amazing to think about the records he set and how long they stood and what he could have accomplished had he had today's training, equipment and facilities.
One of my favorite parts was when as an 11-year old kid, in street clothes and regular school shoes he ran a 100-yards in 11 seconds. The
Interesting and informative, this easily readable book covers the key points of Jesse Owens' life (in and out of sports) in addition to these historical arenas: Olympic politics, Hitler, Eugenics, and World War II. The upside to journalistic-style writing is that it's concise, not overly wordy, and simplistically worded. The downside: impersonal, dry, and droning at times. Overall though, a good solid read - but without any connecting passion and/or pizazz.

Three *** Historically Relevant, Biogr
Sep 21, 2009 Joshua rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
This should have been better. Poor writing, kind of simplified and obvious too much of the time, is the main culprit as second generation sports journalist doesn't compare to his father that is for sure (Dick Schaap).

The story of Jesse Owens and the 1936 Berlin Olympics is pretty amazing and I'm shocked it hasn't been made into a movie--although I think that is happening soon. It's going to be one of those rousing sports films that have been coming once or twice a year for the past decade. Tear
Jun 16, 2009 Ryan rated it really liked it
"The Nazi government wants more than American participation in a sporting contest. It wants to picture Hitler with Uncle Sam standing behind him and saying, 'We are with you, Adolf!'" ...After years of debate, if the U.S. was to send its teams to the Olympics, its action would be viewed universally as nothing less than a validation of the Third Reich, which had just stripped its Jewish citizens of their most basic rights."

Sound familiar?
Jun 14, 2007 Samantha rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
This book was more than a biography about the athlete. It was about someone who was the best in the world at what he did, and still was considered inferior because of his race.
Feb 25, 2017 Stacy rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 23, 2017 Thomas rated it it was amazing
This Book gave me a personal experience into a man's personal triumph in life when all the odds were against him. It gave a true story about Jesse Owens in the Olympic Games right before the worst War in the History of the world.I liked the book the whole way through because it offered an inside look at The life of a very historic role model in the united states, with all the personal battles he had not just in the games, but in life itself.

Jesse Owens had all the odds were against him and many
Nov 20, 2016 Katie rated it it was ok
Shelves: male-author, sports
This book was average. I was really bored by the descriptions of the races Owens ran. While I think the story of Jesse Owens could be interesting, the writing in this book just didn't draw me in.

I have to say I was really disturbed reading about Hitler and white supremacy right now. Some of the parts about Hitler and his people's ability to convince the public that they weren't doing and planning horrible things in the early days of his leadership seemed a little too real. It is scary to think
Erin Burba
I was disappointed in this book. The subject- Jesse Owens- is fascinating. But I never felt like I got to know Jesse. The book somehow felt boring and at a remove.
Jan 22, 2017 Jennilynn rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed reading about Jesse Owens' journey to the 1936 Olympics and the history surrounding his epic experience.
Mar 06, 2017 Lianne rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Someone had suggested I read this after discussing "The Boys in the Boat" and how wonderful a book that was. The story of Jesse Owens is definitely an amazing and powerful one. Unfortunately, this story fell a bit flat. It really wasn't so much about Jesse. You don't really get to know him. You learn about his background, his coaches and some of the races leading up to the Olympics, but I wanted more. It does describe the 1936 Olympics and the push for the U.S. to not participate. It then goes o ...more
Talya Boerner
Feb 26, 2017 Talya Boerner rated it really liked it
I read Triumph for book club. The book is well researched and provides not only the history of the Olympics and WWII before America’s involvement, but it also paints an accurate portrait of racial prejudice and civil rights in Germany and the United States. Jesse Owens was the fastest man in America yet he was still considered inferior because of his race. I believe this should be required reading in schools but it’s probably on the banned list.
Jack Mullen
Sep 28, 2015 Jack Mullen rated it liked it
I rated Triumph a 3-star because a lot of the novel was about the controversy of sending the American blacks to the Olympics in Berlin which was just about the biggest snooze-fest when I was in that part. Similarly, some of the book mentioned the filming of the Olympics which was of no interest to me. On the other side, I really liked how Schaap started strong with Jesse Owen's record-breaking day at Ann Arbor, making two world records his own and coming a tenth of a second from tying another.

Sep 02, 2013 MacK rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Running is a writer's world. Alone with the sound of your breath and the pounding of your feet against pavement, you have all the time in the world to imagine and create stories, legends and myths. You can take your time to chronicle each and every alteration of the weather and the body until you have a big pile of overwrought imagery and irrelevant symbolism.

Jeremy Schaap cuts through a lot of the running falderal with his book about the Track and Field battles during the 1936 Olympic Games. Na
Feb 27, 2016 Lance rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The accomplishments of Jesse Owens in the 1936 Summer Olympics is still revered and celebrated now, eighty years later. Not just for the athletic achievement of earning four gold medals, but also for dispelling the myth of Adolf Hitler’s notion of Aryan superiority is this feat remembered. In this excellent book by Jeremy Schapp, the reader will learn more about what made a humble black man from Ohio turn into the fastest man on Earth.

There are many aspects about Owen’s story that Schapp writes
Nov 15, 2008 Judy rated it really liked it
The story of Owens’s rise from a sharecropper family to the fastest man in the world is fascinating. I was touched by the amount of prejudice he had to overcome, even after he won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics. For example, as a worldwide celebrity, he still could not find a hotel that would rent a room to him in New York City on his return from the Olympics. I was also touched by the friendship he struck up with his German competitor, Lutz Long, with whom he kept in touch until Long was ...more
Nov 22, 2008 David rated it really liked it
The 1936 Summer Olympics were held in Berlin, in the shadow of the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. This is a fascinating period to me. The Nazi party had come to power in 1933; Hitler soon gained control, and by 1935 was proclaiming (in the "Nuremberg Laws") the Jews to be "non-citizens" of the Reich and initiating restrictions on marriage and employment. There were international concerns about whether the Olympics should be held in this atmosphere; the book presents many of the con ...more
Michael Sephes
Jan 16, 2015 Michael Sephes rated it it was amazing
Triumph:The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics by Jeremy schaap is an sports novel about Jesse Owens and the 1936 Olympics. It start with Jesse humble up brings. It also talk about his grade school days and high schol years. It also talks about his days at Ohio State. Talks bout some of his greatest wins and his most crushing losses. It also goes into the political aspect of the 1936 Olympics. It also talks about Hitler mindset before the game started. It goes into Jesse phenomena ...more
Sep 06, 2014 Jeremy rated it really liked it
Really fantastic story that gets at the real Jesse Owens while paying tribute to his one-of-a-kind talents. I'd heard a lot about the '36 Olympics but had no idea exactly HOW out of this world Owens was. Schaap's writing is subdued and informational and he knows how much to temper the athletics with the human interest. It's a compelling read, even though I knew how the story was going to end. I knew that Owens and the other African-American athletes at that games exploded the Aryan superman myth ...more
Jul 16, 2012 Mary rated it liked it
It's so weird to think that the Olympics in 1936 were in Berlin. Althetes heiling and goosestepping. It seems so non-Olympicy, and then here's Jesse Owens who just WINS EVERYTHING. (What? This is not a spoiler--read your history.) He's so much better than all of the Aryan athletes, just leaves them in the dust, but you know what?

It was also 1936 in America. Owens couldn't eat in many of the diners that his college team visited while at meets. There was a lot of discrimination and prejudice in Am
Gail Amendt
Oct 14, 2014 Gail Amendt rated it really liked it
Shelves: hfu2014ba
This book contains two very interesting intertwined stories. The first is that of Jesse Owens, son of a poor black sharecropper, who overcame prejudice and rose to become one of America's top track and field athletes ever. The second story is that of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which Hitler organized to showcase his re-made Germany and the supposed supremacy of the Aryan race. Jesse Owens, in winning four gold medals and becoming the star of the Berlin Olympics, humiliated Hitler's Aryan team, and ...more
Mar 17, 2015 Will rated it liked it
3.5 stars

It was fascinating to me learning about J.C. (to the world Jesse, due to his southern accent people thought J.C. was 'Jesse') and his rise in the running world. He was coming up during a heavy time of racism in the U.S., before the Civil Rights Movement was even a dream.

We also get a glimpse of the rise of the Third Reich and the treatment of Jews, etc. Many Americans opposed going to the Olympics, as a protest to Hitler and his regime. The Germans then pointed out the hypocrisy because
Mar 01, 2011 Abdul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lessons Learned:
One can succeed despite any obstacle thrown at you. You simply need to make up your mind to do so.

Great book about Jesse Owens and the Triumph he achieved at the 1936 Olympics. Given all that he had to overcome, poverty, racism, jealousy, competitors’ etc one cannot help but cheer for the hero of the book. Amazing to learn how through his running he sent a powerful message to Hitler and the world that it does not really matter what color you are. Bigotry and racism clear
Aug 10, 2008 Tim rated it really liked it
I don't normally read sport books, but this one was quite good. Proving again that I am aware of history, but quite superficially.

Jesse Owens story, which leads from childhood in Alabama, to Ohio State as a track star to Olympic fame is detailed in a nicely paced narrative. What makes it fascinating is to read all the tensions tugging at the good storyine. The argument over boycotting the Nazi Olympics, the Jim Crow era and manner that society and sportswriters referred to Owen, "the Midnight E
I have mixed feelings about this book. I do not find much interest in sports, but I found this story interesting. And while I read the book to learn more about this particular bit of history, I was disappointed in the writing. It was simplistic to the point that I had a hard time feeling connected to Jesse Owens, the subject of this book. I wanted to feel more emotional about the circumstances he and his family had to overcome, about his role as an African American athlete during a time of wides ...more
Nov 27, 2007 Kettie rated it liked it
I knew that Jesse Owens was a famous track Olympian, that was about it. Now I know more! This is not really a biography of Jesse Owens but it gives a short overview of his life, then focuses on the Olympics of 1936, which took place in Berlin as the Third Reich was making itself known. There was a lot of controversy over whether the US should participate. It seems appropriate to the current situation. I learned more about Jesse Owens, why he is so respected, and also about the world situation at ...more
Kristen MacGregor
Feb 15, 2014 Kristen MacGregor rated it really liked it
This was an interesting insight for me- I didn't really know much about the Olympics and how it used to be- VERY different from today! And I also didn't know that Hitler held the Olympics in Germany right before WWII... this book brings together all the happenings in the segregation-stage of the U.S. and the early anti-Semitic state of Germany- with a great story on running and being all you can be, barely making it to the world's greatest race and winning 4 gold medals at the Olympics. I couldn ...more
Mike Hovis
Aug 16, 2015 Mike Hovis rated it liked it
"Triumph" is a good book. It is very readable and I enjoyed it very much. However, I do have the following criticisms. (1) while there are several pages of notes, there are no footnote numbers in the text of the book. Footnote numbers would have made the notes much easier to locate. (2) in the first paragraph there is a historical error. There was no such thing as broadcasting "via satellite" in 1955. (3) the chapter titled "Out Of Alabama" has a geographical error. Oak vile is much closer to Mi ...more
Dec 28, 2015 Crystal rated it liked it
Shelves: running
Great story about Jesse Owens. I loved reading about Owens competing in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, at a time when Hitler was ruling Germany and in America, blacks were not treated as equals. I give the book 3 stars though because it felt a little like I was reading a book report or a newspaper article. Some of the most climactic parts of the book were seemingly just recited as facts, without any creative or expressive writing. Yes, it is a non-fiction account of the events surrounding Owens and t ...more
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From wikipedia article on author Jeremy Schaap (b. August 23, 1969, New York City) is an American sportswriter, television reporter, and author. Schaap is a six-time Emmy award winner for his work on ESPN's E:60, SportsCenter and Outside the Lines.
He is a regular contributor to Nightline and ABC World News Tonight and has been published in Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine, Time, Parade, The W
More about Jeremy Schaap...

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“Snyder was a progressive. Unlike Avery Brundage of the AOC and Dean Cromwell of USC, he was far from sympathetic to the Nazi cause. But his first loyalty was to Jesse Owens. He thought that if Owens got the chance to compete, he would win every event he entered. He knew, too, that then Owens would never have to look back. Of course, it is also crucial to remember that Snyder’s opinion was not informed by the gift of foresight. Like the AOC, he did not know, as we now know, that there would be a holocaust, that Hitler and his regime would eventually kill millions, that the Germans would attack Poland, France, and the Soviet Union. If he had known, he would have felt differently about the boycott. But in 1935 it was still possible to assume that European Jewry was not on the precipice of extinction, just as it was possible to believe that Hitler was not quite a madman. Everyone knew that Hitler disliked the Jews, but few imagined that he would attempt to exterminate them. In” 1 likes
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