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

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  739 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
In 1936, against a backdrop of swastikas flying and storm troopers looming, an African American son of sharecroppers set three world records and won an unprecedented four gold medals, single-handedly crushing Hitler's myth of Aryan supremacy. The story of Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympic Games is that of a high-profile athlete giving a performance that transcends sports. Bu ...more
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Published March 19th 2007 by Tantor Media (first published February 1st 2007)
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Sean Gibson
Jan 15, 2016 Sean Gibson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reviewed this for Kirkus waaaayyy back when it came out: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-re...

Great book, if you're into this sort of thing.
Rob
Nov 10, 2009 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Pamela
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
...more
Joshua
Sep 21, 2009 Joshua rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Ryan
Jun 19, 2009 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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?
Samantha
Jul 08, 2007 Samantha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Katie
Nov 20, 2016 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Sarah F.
Nov 30, 2016 Sarah F. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of Jesse Owens is always inspiring. Schaap does an excellent job with such a legendary subject.
Stephanie R.
I wanted to read this book in time for the Olympics but, alas, I just got to it now. I felt like some of the information was very repetitive, such as the chapter(s) on the potential Olympic boycott. It was an inspirational story, nonetheless, and a quick read.
Jack Mullen
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.

Y
...more
MacK
Dec 23, 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
...more
Tyler
Sep 21, 2016 Tyler rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somehow this story feels so inconsequential. There's just not much to it at all. It is well-written and clear. If it was any longer, I would have stopped reading. I would recommend only if you need some minor pre-WWII Germany fix.
Lance
Mar 08, 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
...more
Judy
Nov 15, 2008 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
David
Nov 22, 2008 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jeremy
Sep 06, 2014 Jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary
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
...more
Gail Amendt
Oct 19, 2014 Gail Amendt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Will
May 11, 2016 Will rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Abdul
Mar 13, 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.

Summary:
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
...more
Danielle
Sep 05, 2016 Danielle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I thought I would really like this book but it was not one I would recommend or pick up again. The author did a good job, and I enjoyed the historical parts about the Olympics in Germany, but Owens attitude though it all drove me crazy. He was sooo full of himself. I got sick of reading about it. I'm sure most professional athletes are the same today, but ugh I just couldn't stomach it any longer.
Tim
Sep 06, 2008 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Nicole
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
Kettie
Apr 01, 2008 Kettie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 12, 2016 Kristen MacGregor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
"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
Crystal
Jan 12, 2016 Crystal rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
David
Mar 21, 2009 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jeremy Schaap is the first author to basically say that Hitler lost World War II at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. For Jesse Owens to win four gold medals over his German Rivals, it had to put a crack in the foundation of the axis powers. While Europe was hearing the Nazi Propaganda that the Aryan was the dominant race, Owens demonstrated that that conclusion was premature.

This book helped me see why Owens never entered another Olympics. Appropriately named Triumph, this books demonstrates the dep
...more
Pat
Oct 05, 2015 Pat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audio book and it was excellent. Lots of interesting detail about his life and the controversy surrounding the 1936 Olympics. Incredible to learn the details of his accomplishments. The friendship that he established with a German athlete is touching and represents the respect that Jesse Owens should have received from everyone including the host country and his own country, especially upon his return home after the games. Jesse Owens was an athlete of the highest caliber and a ...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
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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