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The Real All Americans: The Team That Changed a Game, a People, a Nation

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  480 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
Sally Jenkins, bestselling co-author of It's Not About the Bike, revives a forgotten piece of history in The Real All Americans. In doing so, she has crafted a truly inspirational story about a Native American football team that is as much about football as Lance Armstrong's book was about a bike.

If you’d guess that Yale or Harvard ruled the college gridiron in 1911 and 19
Hardcover, 343 pages
Published May 8th 2007 by Doubleday Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Aug 18, 2015 Emily rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Emily by: Radiolab
I LOVED this book, and you should read it even if you've listened to Sally Jenkins on Radiolab.

More review to come!
Mar 27, 2009 David rated it really liked it
This is a book about "cowboys and Indians," from a very unique approach. It describes many of the 19th-century issues and battles that arose as the "white man" pushed the native Americans off their lands and onto reservations. I learned some things in this section that I was not aware of.

But all of that is presented as context for a fascinating experiment - the idea of off-reservation boarding schools to educate the Indians. Particularly, the "Carlisle Indian Industrial School" in Pennsylvania i
Jan 06, 2009 Ron rated it it was ok
Finally a book I could finish. This was a decent account of the history of Carlisle Indian College, in particular the Football teams at the college. I found the information about Captain Pratt, the first superintendant of the college, the most vivid parts of the story. The story of the football players, except for Jim Thorpe, seemed too brief, but that is probably due to the limited amount of information available about most of the players. The description of the football seasons could have had ...more
Vince Darcangelo
Nov 18, 2008 Vince Darcangelo rated it it was amazing
This review originally appeared in the PICKSIX.BIZ

For those of us born in the Super Bowl era (which would be most of the P-6's readership), it's difficult to imagine professional football experiencing birthing pangs, but there was a time when football was not only unpopular, but controversial, a time when annual deaths at the collegiate level alone (when there weren't half as many teams or players as there are today) measured in the dozens. A time when foo
C Baker
Oct 11, 2014 C Baker rated it it was amazing
Shelves: football
This is absolutely one of the best sports history books I’ve ever read. Sally Jenkins tells the full history of the Carlisle Indian football team, truly an amazing part of football history.

The Carlisle Indian Industrial School was opened by Lt. Col. Richard Henry Pratt in 1879. Pratt had been the Superintendent of a prison for Indians incarcerated during the various outbreaks of violence on the plains where he taught Indians to read and write and believed they were every bit the equal of white m
Oct 16, 2015 Brian rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this telling of the story of the Carlisle Indian school, and its' place in history. The story, like many histories, is not a kind one to read as a white person 100 years in the future. It is truly one of perseverance on the parts of some people that were taken advantage of by a society that stole so much from others and then tried to "civilize" and bring culture to the otherness that was not fitting into the "melting pot" image of America that was being created by the expansion west by ...more
Steven Peterson
Oct 21, 2009 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating book, where different themes--some positive and some negative--are intertwined. It is the story of the founding of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School and its fabled football team.

Symbolically, it is interesting that Sally Jenkins begins the book by speaking of the momentous football game scheduled in 1912 between the Carlisle football team (featuring the legendary Jim Thorpe) and Army. Given that it was only a short time previously that the lugubrious incident at Wounde
Tom R.
Feb 19, 2013 Tom R. rated it really liked it
Before reading this book, I knew teams like Yale and Harvard used to dominate in the early days of college football.
What I didn't know is that a small Indian school with undersized players, many of whom had never played football before attending, built a program that rivaled and occasionally beat them.
I enjoy reading Sally Jenkins's writing for the Washington Post, and she is excellent here as well in telling a story that ought to be far more well-known than it is.
The Carlisle Indian School open
Jul 27, 2012 Rob rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, sports
I really enjoyed this book! It was well written and way to read. The history was presented in a very interesting way that kept me coming back. Jenkins did a great job with the research and presenting the information. She tied everything together so that every chapter built on the one before it. I love history and college football, so this was perfect! I had never even heard of the Carlisle School before, let alone this remarkable football team. I had of course heard of Jim Thorpe and Pop Warner, ...more
Sep 09, 2008 Siobhan rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2008
I'm not much for sports, but I heard about this book on NPR and had been looking for it ever since. Sally Jenkins is someone I read occasionally in the Washington Post, but not very often since I don't read the sports pages (see first sentence).

At any rate, I really enjoyed this book. It's about the football team at the Carlisle school, which was started in 1879 to educate Indian children and bring them into the white world. Eventually, they established a football team, which was coached by Pop
Robbie Forkish
Jun 04, 2016 Robbie Forkish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got interested in this topic when I heard the author on a Radiolab podcast. The book is great; it combines two of my favorite subjects--history and football. The American treatment of Indians (now referred to as Native Americans) through the land grab of westward expansion, broken treaties, Indian Affairs corruption, and the generally prevailing racial attitudes of the late 19th century is shameful and the individual stories that come to life make it all the more heartbreaking. It's shocking r ...more
Bob Mobley
Jul 28, 2011 Bob Mobley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sally Jenkins has created a compelling history about the American Indian and how one man's belief and vision helped begin the change of attitude toward native Americans. Lt. Col. Richard Henry Pratt, a fierce abolitionist, believed the native Americans deserved a place in American society. Through his determined efforts and unquenchable spirit, he created the most famous of the American Indian schools, an institution called The Carlisle Indian Industrial School.

This well-written narrative combin
Sep 14, 2012 Pam rated it really liked it
Just finished this and found it fascinating, not only because of the local history mentioned (Montana and Oklahoma, places I'm familiar with) but also the college football history. The number of fatalities each year was incredible - it's amazing the game ever caught on! The explanation of football's popularity makes sense: Ivy League gentlemen no longer had war or exploration to aspire to (the West had just about been tamed, the Civil war was over) so the sport provided an outlet. Of course, for ...more
Jack Cheng
This is a great story about the Carlisle Indian School football team. The school was founded by RH Pratt at the end of the 19th century as a way to "civilize" Native American populations. While Pratt may have had the best intentions, the removal of children from their families to Pennsylvania was traumatic and not anything anyone would consider today. Meanwhile, football was developing as a game around the turn of the century and the Carlisle players were among the best, clashing against Yale, H ...more
Jun 30, 2016 Stan rated it it was amazing
An incredibly beautiful book. Sally Jenkins, a journalist and sportswriter, really showed her skills as both as well as a really literate writer in this incredible tale. It is in the final analysis, an incredibly sad book, but full of fantastic characters both among the Indians and the White Americans. Pratt, the founder, was an extraordinary man. Pop Warner, quite a character, had his ups and downs but knew his football. The players, Gus Welch, Al Exendine, so many others, and of course Jim Tho ...more
Pierre Lauzon
Aug 21, 2014 Pierre Lauzon rated it really liked it
A very interesting book, opening up an obscure era of American history for me.

The book is primarily about the Carlisle Indian School, its formation in 1879 to its closing in 1918. Carlisle is also presented as a microcosm of the relations between Indians and the United States Government and its citizens.

The book also leads to its climax chapter, detailing the football game in 1912 where Carlisle beat Army 27-6, an epic victory for the Indian and an epic defeat for Army. Players in the game inclu
Robb Coulter
Aug 01, 2015 Robb Coulter rated it it was ok
I had great hopes that the book was going to start the dialogue on the contributions of the North American Indians to major league sports and in some ways it accomplished that goal. unfortunately I found the book to jump around quite a bit and spent most of the time in the indian wars......i know its the starting point but this book did not celebrate the contributions as much as wallow in the bad stuff. Lord knows there is a long history of bad stuff but I had hoped this book would be happy and ...more
Mary Drew
Jan 26, 2013 Mary Drew rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, nonfiction, history
Carlisle School: where a cavalry man named Pratt tried to "Kill the Indian, save the man" (or woman) with hundreds of Indian children, teenagers, and young adults from 1870s to early 1900s.

One thing that came out of it was a football team.

Recommended by Pete Brown and Charlie Maetzold years ago; I'm finally getting around to reading it. I've decided that this will be the year that I am a big football fan, so this is the first thing I'm doing is reading this book.

I'm understanding a lot more of
Frank Taranto
Dec 17, 2009 Frank Taranto rated it liked it
Shelves: history, sports
An interesting history of the Carlisle Indian School.
The book tells the story from Richard Henry Pratt's experiences as a cavalryman fighting the Indians, through his establishment of the school and the school's entire history.
As a lover of history, I found the stories of how white americans treated their native counterparts both fascinating and repulsive. Pratt's idea that the only way native americans could survive was to become like white men shows the hubris of white americans of the time.
Mar 02, 2008 Gregg rated it really liked it
The first half of this book provides a window into the lives of Native Americans at the close of the 18800's that is as inspiring as it is horrific. The things this country put Indians through and the rationale for the behavior echoes pretty loudly in some of what is happening now in other places in the world. Then the second half takes you on a ride that shows not only the world of football as it began to take hold on the American sports scene (and some of what went on back then would make Tedy ...more
May 28, 2011 Sueij rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sueij by: Reggie
Recommended by a friend who cares about justice and about sports, this book is another in my "I'll read anything about anything as long as it's well written" series. It's the story of the Carlisle Indian School, a government-run cultural brainwashing program in the days when "the West was won" and Indians were being forced onto reservations. It's also about the invention, creation, and innovation that was football.

And who'd'a thunk it? It made me care! This was well researched, well written, fas
Oct 20, 2012 Kim rated it really liked it
It's a book that's kind of slow to build to the promised climax of the game between Carlisle and Army, but afterwards, I understood why. You do need to understand the path the students took to really understand why that game was so important. Also, at first, I was a little leery of how the author was describing Native American forced assimilation, but it becomes clear later that the students were aware that 1) their assimilation was being forced and 2) that some of them were going along to get a ...more
Brian Eshleman
Oct 13, 2012 Brian Eshleman rated it it was amazing
Great book for college football history, for cultural commentary, for biographical sketches from Pop Warner, to Jim Thorpe " to figures who otherwise forgotten to general history. Also touched on an interest in the acculturation offered and education and especially college. With all-Americans in mid-20's and hopscotching between schools for side benefits, your notion of the good old days of college football may die in these pages, as might the search for purple tributes to n ...more
Mary Harriet
Jul 30, 2008 Mary Harriet rated it really liked it
I really liked this book because of the story it told of the education experience of the Indians. Any person interested in the history of education will find this book interesting. The football and sports was good, but the real story, which has not been told in a compelling manner to a mass audience, is how truly horrible the United States Government was to Native Americans.

Yes, this book does give a reminder of the Jim Thorpe story and how he had to give back his Olympic medals, but the innova
Oct 27, 2007 Dan rated it really liked it
excellent read about the history of the Carlisle Indian Institute- its successes on the gridiron and in the education of the Native Americans- Jim Thorpe, Pop Warner and Henry Pratt, the idealistic 10th Cavalry who founded the institute are naturally featured. The controversial policies that led to its establishment are also covered, as well as a variety of events from the Wounded Knee Massacre to the 1912 Olympics are covered. Other personalities such as Teddy Roosevelt, Walter Camp, American H ...more
Mar 17, 2010 Anne rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
My husband got this one for Christmas from my dad. Having finished the book my dad got ME and unable to go to the library right now, I started in on this. To my surprise, it is so far engrossing, well-written, and we've hardly heard about sports yet, 1/5 of the way in. ;)


It turned out to be a great read all the way through, and provided a lot of insight into many things other than sports-- which is great, since I could care less about sports. ;)
Feb 01, 2016 Nancy rated it it was amazing
I started this book because it is about an off reservation boarding school for native americans..much like the school I taught in for 10 years. but the book was about much more. iT covered history and football and the weird American psyche that loves violent sports. It showed the giant impact of the school's headmaster,of the FB coach Pop Warner, of the convoluted US government policies toward natives ...on the group of kids attending this school at the turn of the century..I loved this book!
Jul 25, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it
Overall a very easy and an enjoyable read, though it certainly bears marks as having been written by a non-historian with a popular audience in mind. The author generally does a good job at placing the Native American team at Carlisle in the context of the Boarding School programs; however, although she does mention the hardships experienced by students who participated (either by choice or force) in the boarding school program, she certainly does not dwell on them and comes off as a bit glib in ...more
Jan 15, 2008 Ray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting story about the origins of college football, through the eyes of the Native Americans brought to the Carlisle School to learn the ways of the white man. Especially of interest is to realize that while the Native Americans of Carlisle were fighting the cadets of West Point on the gridiron in football, it was their fathers who fought in a very different way in the Indian wars of the Plains. The football stories also point out just how unregulated, and just how brutal the game was durin ...more
May 17, 2009 Jamie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history buffs and sports fans, old west fans
Recommended to Jamie by: David Kenison
Okay-- this turned out to be a really good book for me! I learned a lot about our country, about my own great-grandmother's history because she attended the same school this was about. And, I know more about football-- I could go on Jeopardy, (okay, maybe not.) But I would highly suggest this well written sports history book for anyone looking for a change of pace, especially those who like history. Fascinating!
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this sports story written best by a woman 3 9 Mar 10, 2013 08:13AM  
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