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

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  338 ratings  ·  59 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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Rob
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
Joshua
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
"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?
Kristen MacGregor
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
Samantha
Jul 08, 2007 Samantha rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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.
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
David
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
Judy
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
MacK
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
Bill Glover
I threw down a serious fat man run yesterday at the gym. I didn't get motivated to do anything outside eating hot dogs and drinking beer when I read about Babe Ruth. It might be the added element of reading about an athletic icon as well as one getting ready to trounce social Darwinist bullshit in the greatest public event of the 30's.
The take away that we missed under Carter is, never skip the Olympics. Go and prove yourself instead. You can always go to war five years later.
Tim
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
Abdul
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
Dpalange44
Good read. Doesn't engage the reader as much as I'd hoped. Like every American, I knew about the legend of Jesse Owens, but not much of the actual story .
Terzah
After loving Unbroken and The Boys in the Boat--both of which dealt with the 1936 Olympics and some of their heroes--I thought I needed to fill in my education on the subject of those Games' most famous athlete: Jesse Owens. This book did that admirably. It wasn't as well-written or gripping as the other books, but it left no doubt of Owens' greatness as an athlete.
Kettie
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
Luke
Ah man, eulace peacock was bigger, stronger, and faster than Jesse Owens. What a gyp.
Jen
It was easy to get bogged down with all the different names of athletes, politicians, reporters, etc. I would have liked a little more detail about Jesse Owens after the olympics, more of the discrimination he faced back at home. But the parts about German politics, the European state pre-WWII and the politics of the IOC were very interesting.
David
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
Justin
A look at the races (on the track) and circumstances leading up to the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin. The world watched as a black man stole the show from and handily out performed Hitler's "superior" Aryan athletes.

Although the book is entertaining and informative, I wish Schaap had spent more time on the prejudices that Owens faced in the United States as a black man. Sadly, we weren't much better than the Nazis back then.

FYI - Schaap also wrote "Cinderella Man".
Josh Jones
Enjoyed all of the backstory and discussion of the political climate at the time. Would have liked to get some additional details of his post Olympic life. They were very briefly covered.
Gordon
This is an excellent biography of the man Donovan Bailey called the "Greatest Sprinter of all time". It is well researched, includes quotations from the great sports writers of the day such as Paul Gallico and Grantland Rice, very readable and covers Owens weaknesses and failures as well as his victories. If you have any interest in the Olympics, sprinting, or The Third Reich, this is well worth reading.
Lora
Had to read this book after reading Book Thief and knowing absolutely nothing about Jesse Owens. Written by the author of Cinderella Man I thought it would be interesting. It was. He did a great job of giving background and other information. Sports books are not usually anywhere even on my list, but what a fascinating time in history! Would have loved to have seen it. Glad I read it.
Rachel C.
This book was very informative. Jesse Owens was an amazing athlete, to say the least, and it's despicable that so many people were not fans solely because of his race. I'm glad racism has been toned down dramatically, but it disgusts me that some people still think the color of someone's skin actually matters. I would also like to add that I'm glad Hitler is dead, that fool.
Geof
Beautiful book. I remember when I was young reading about Jesse Owens and the friendship he formed with Luz Long during the Olympics. Back then I was thinking it would be great if they wrote a story covering Owens and Hitler's Olympics. Well here is that book. It is amazing what Jesse Owens did right in front of Hitler during the height of Aryan superiority propaganda.
Parker
This is a very modern view of Owens' Olympic experience, staying clear of too much political moralizing about Owens' counter-example to Hitler's racial theories, but paying proper attention to Owens' athletic triumph in Berlin. Lots of very good discussion of the boycott discussions among the USOC before Berlin; Avery Brundage comes in for a well-deserved beating.
Jen
Very interesting, but pretty dry. I guess this is the same guy who wrote "Cinderella Man", but I definitely wouldn't be inspired to make a movie of this one.
Jeremiah Gumm
Jan 13, 2013 Jeremiah Gumm rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the Olympics or sports history
An excellent biopic on the story of Jesse Owens and what actually took place at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Jeremy Schaap's style is both engaging and informative. This was a well-researched read that's worth the read of anyone interested in the history of the Olympics or in sport. An excellent addition to my sports history library!
Eve
charles riley
snyder
died in 1980 at 66 - lung cancer
kangaroo skin shoes
august 1936 - won 4 medals (100 meter dash, 200 meter, broad jumps, relay
remained poor
august 1936
met carl ludwig Luz Long who died in 1943 but helped him for the broad jumps
film Olympia by Leni Riefenstahl

long a demarrer mais passionnant recit des jeux

Melyssa
I love the Olympics and the World War II era fascinates me, so this look at Jesse Owens at the Berlin games was a perfect combination for me.

Relying on accounts from sportswriters from the time, Schaap does a great job of describing Owens as an athlete and showing why his feats at the 1936 Olympics were historic in more ways than one.
Don Weidinger
interesting on Jesse, and more so on what was happening around him, the obvious jewish oppression that began with the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 after 33 months of Hitler power, FDR snubbed Jesse even though Hitler recognized Jesse for his feats, see movie Olympia, died at 66, Tom Wolfe wrote on 36 olympics, great story of Lutz Long.
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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...
Cinderella Man: James Braddock, Max Baer, and the Greatest Upset in Boxing History Al Bernstein: 30 Years, 30 Undeniable Truths About Boxing, Sports, and TV Untitled on 1969 Mets/Orioles Baseball Season Triumph: Jesse Owens And Hitler's Olympics Triumph: Jesse Owens And Hitler's Olympics

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