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Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team

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4.18  ·  Rating details ·  2,147 ratings  ·  580 reviews
Jim Thorpe: super athlete, Olympic gold medalist, Native American.

Pop Warner: indomitable coach, football mastermind, Ivy League grad.


Before these men became legends, they met in 1907 at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, where they forged one of the winningest teams in the history of America’s favorite sport. Called “the team that invented football,” Carlisle’s i
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 17th 2017 by Roaring Brook Press
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Lauren This book covers both topics. It starts out explaining the start of the Carlisle Indian School and its football team, but after a few chapters when Th…moreThis book covers both topics. It starts out explaining the start of the Carlisle Indian School and its football team, but after a few chapters when Thorpe is introduced it definitely focuses on his life story. This largely includes the football team but also other jobs he did when he temporarily "dropped out" of school, his travels, his family, the olympics, and life after those events. (less)

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Average rating 4.18  · 
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 ·  2,147 ratings  ·  580 reviews


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Jen
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Update: 2018

Went to Jim Thorpe, PA. Awesome little place! Lots of history before taking Jim Thorpe’s name. If you go, warning, mountainous with narrow streets and not a lot of parking. Be prepared! JTX has a great tour and the Stone Pub (might be getting that name wrong) is a great restaurant that caters to those with food allergies, though anyone can find delicious food there. And the Speakeasy was SO COOL. Great atmosphere and the staff were all incredibly friendly.

Saw the Jim Thorpe memorial
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Scott
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

"In Thorpe's four seasons with [coach] Pop Warner . . . Carlisle compiled an almost impossible forty-three wins . . . Along the way, they managed to pull football, kicking an screaming, out of the Stone Age and into the modern era, putting it on the road to becoming America's favorite sport . . . [but] today many fans have no idea that one of football's all-time greatest teams was the Carlisle Indians." -- Steve Sheinkin

Energetic biography that it as much about Jim Thorpe - arguably Ame
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Sam Bloom
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-nonfiction
EDIT: 3.5 stars
Lots of feelings about this one... http://readingwhilewhite.blogspot.com...
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Betsy
Sep 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not a fan of college or professional football, but I decided to read this book about football before the razzle-dazzle, big money, and prima donnas took over. I also wanted to learn about the Carlisle Indian School, which was located not far from where I live. If you like football, you probably already know some of the background of the sport, which almost died early in the late 19th/early 20th century when a number of young men died while 'playing' the game. Teddy Roosevelt's role in persu ...more
Elizabeth Kennedy
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Steve Sheinkin consistently knocks narrative non-fiction out of the park. He keeps the story moving while providing the right amount of detail to both inform and interest the reader. He also has a knack for picking excellent subject matter. How awesome to learn more about Native American history, the history of American football and the amazingly talented Jim Thorpe all at once.

I think one of his writing gifts is to scratch that non-fiction itch that many young readers, especially boys, seem to
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David
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.25
As a sports and football fan I have heard the name Jim Thorpe numerous times. He is one of those legends you hear about, but it was so long ago it is hard to really appreciate their feats because the game has changed so much. It was really interesting to learn that the game has changed so much because of Jim Thorpe and the teams he was a part of. The football aspects of this book were interesting, but the best part by far was the discussion of Jim's evolution as a person and the cultural str
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Aryana Parmar
3.5 stars actually

This was actually a pretty decent book. Like, I don't really like nonfiction at all, but I feel like this author had a way of making it... I don't know... not fiction... but just better. It wasn't just spewing out facts, but it had emotions and feelings behind each and every single word. I thought this was a good book, and that's saying a lot since it was nonfiction and about football/football players. So yeah!
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Lauren
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, favorites
This book does a good job of balancing the topics of Native American "history" in the U.S., history of football, and ethics in general. For the most part this book reads as a story and not as "nonfiction homework", is at a good reading level for students in 6th-12th grade, and will tell teens of uglier moments of U.S. history they don't learn enough about in school. Reluctant readers may be drawn to either the football or the Native American aspect and be surprised seeing familiar (hopefully!) n ...more
Adam
Also, don't miss the deleted scene posted on Fuse 8: http://blogs.slj.com/afuse8production...

And a couple more deleted scenes here: https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2...
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Karen Arendt
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Steve Sheinkin has the power to make any story in history readable, engaging and mesmerizing. Undefeated reveals much of Jim Thorpe's athletic ability but also of his character. Readers will also learn how Indians were treated by the U.S. government during that difficult time in expanding the country. An excellent book that is sure to win awards. ...more
Clare Lund
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Steve Sheinkin always has a way of making nonfiction interesting and accessible. If you enjoyed this one, you should also read Bomb, Lincoln's Grave Robbers, or The Port Chicago 50. ...more
Stacey Bradley
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Alright, I am not going to say I loved this one BUT... I also am not a football fan. For a football fan, this is the history you have never heard before. I did love that this book is a biography and non-fiction, as I am always looking for good non-fiction, especially for my readers who like sports and lean towards true stories. I also loved that it looks at the history of US government sponsored massacres, residential schools, and systemic racism through the eyes of someone who lived it. It is t ...more
Barb Middleton
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic look at the development of football and the racism faced by Native Americans. Sheinkin is my favorite nonfiction writer. He is terrific at his craft!
Abby Johnson
Steve Sheinkin writing about Jim Thorpe? You had me at hello.

Sheinkin pays homage to football legend Jim Thorpe with his signature compulsively readable style and tons of archival photographs. It's obvious that Sheinkin is taking great care to write of indigenous nations with respect, always identifying the nations to which people belong. Beyond that, I don't have the expertise to evaluate Sheinkin's treatment of culture here. He condemns the use of boarding schools to "civilize" indigenous peo
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Kara of BookishBytes
Thrill of victory? Rooting for the underdog? Football? The Olympics? Native American history? Social Justice? All in this one amazing book.

Steve Sheinkin tells Jim Thorpe’s story but also Pop Warner’s story (I honestly didn’t know he was a real person). With these historical characters we learn the history of the game of football. Plus, we get the amazing personal story of Jim Thorpe, arguably the best athlete ever. Plus, we confront social justice issues such as Native American children living
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Sara
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Steve Sheinkin has done it again. I haven't been interested in football since the Dallas Cowboys won the Super Bowl in 1972, but I was riveted to this narrative nonfiction about the athlete of the 20th Century, Jim Thorpe, and the rise and evolution of football brought about by the Carlisle Indians in the early 1900s. I was breathless and nervous through every football game recounted and fascinated by how rough and dangerous the game was and how it evolved. Jim Thorpe and his Native American tea ...more
Heidi
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I always know when I pick up a Steve Sheinkin book that I'm going to get a good story. Undefeated was no different. And being a football fan I found the book a fascinating look back at the early years of the game. But as with Sheinkin's other titles, he's picked a topic I knew very little about and turned it into a great read.

While the book focuses on football and the impact that the Carlisle Indian School's football team made on the sport, there are other themes in the book. It was hard to rea
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Thom
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A fairly quick read and a great summary of Carlisle Indian School, coach "Pop" Warner, and Jim Thorpe. Chapters were short and mostly focused on one aspect of the history each. I would classify this as an excellent young-adult book, highly recommended.

After finishing Joseph Bruchac's Jim Thorpe, Original All-American, I was left wanting to know more about Pop Warner and Carlisle. This book scratches that itch, while also providing a good overview of Jim Thorpe.

The book starts by focusing on Warn
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David
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another gem from Steve Sheinkin. His books are well sourced and he has a talent for blending interesting storytelling and probing questions with enough historical detail to make the reading experience entertaining, thought provoking and informative.

Here we get the story of Native Americans sent to the Carlisle Indian Industrial School for the purpose of integrating them into the white man's world. It's not quite as benign as I just stated and Sheinkin raises important questions about racism whi
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Cara
Oct 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Three stars for me because I’m just not that in to football. Although my family, who all adore football, enjoyed my interest while I was reading this book.

Five stars for Steve Sheinkin for telling this important story so well—and caring about an honest portrayal of a man that suffered so much because of other people’s dishonesty.
Alyssa
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fic, on-audio, ya, j-fic, sports
I can see why the kids like this- compelling story sharing a bit of American history I was not very familiar with. And a nonfiction that reads like fiction- Sheinkin at his best.
Kim Bahr
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
An eye opening read into the history of football and the father of football, Pop Warner. More about the Carlisle Indian School than about Jim Thorpe. Thorpe is not a focus until over halfway through the book
Mary Prather
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen-reading
I read this aloud with my 14 year old son. There is so much history in this - not only football history, but also the history of the cruel treatment of American Indians during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Steve Sheinkin has a wonderful way of making the story engaging and informative. I am looking forward to reading his other books as part of our homeschool studies!
Heidi
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fantastic non-fiction book that tackles (see what I did there?) the history of college football, the colonizing horror of "Indian schools" like Carlisle, and fully plumbs the absolute awesomeness of Jim Thorpe, who has long been one of my favorite athletes. My 13-year-old is reading it and he's loving it too. ...more
Erin Cataldi
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
This book was amazing from start to finish. I admired author, Steve Sheinkin, for his wonderful book, "The Port Chicago 50", but "Undefeated" has turned me into an unabashed mega-fan. Sheinkin's writing style is amazing. I don't give a crap that his non-fiction is intended for young adults, they're easily accessible, filled with pictures, great writing, and eloquence, perfect for adults too. I learned SOO MUCH from this book. I had heard of Jim Thorpe and Pop Warner but I didn't really know didd ...more
Katie Lalor
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teaching, nonfiction
This book was very informational, yet read like a story with the dialogue Sheinkin adds. I really enjoyed learning about the Native Americans, the early start of the NFL, and Jim Thorpe. There were a lot of big surprises for me in the book! It seems like the NFL has had the same issues all along, even as technology has changed.
Tammy
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So many connections I didn't know about! Pop Warner, Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, and Jim Thorpe! I had no idea. I was aware of the concept of the "Indian schools" and their genocidal approach to the "Indian problem." This is an important story and could be the basis for a great interdisciplinary unit encompassing history, sport, sociology, and film. I predict boys will fall all over this book. ...more
Jeimy
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I first learned about Jim Thorpe when I read Joseph Bruchac's Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two. It always saddens me when heroes are forgotten by most people. Thorpe's life was not easy, but his legacy deserves to live on. ...more
Leonard Kim
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
In my opinion, more effective than Most Dangerous and The Port Chicago 50. I would say more effective than Jason Reynold's Ghost, which many people were advocating for this years' Newbery. I can't predict other people's reactions, but I expect this will be much discussed by the Mock Newbery crowd. Listened to the audiobook. ...more
Liza Wiemer
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent non-fiction book that taught me a lot about the treatment of Native Americans in the early 1900s. Easy to read and informative, but not at all dry. Young adults will love this option for non-fiction. The history of football was fascinating and to know Jim Thorpe's contribution was inspiring!
Highly recommend.
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From: http://stevesheinkin.com/about/

I was born in Brooklyn, NY, and my family lived in Mississippi and Colorado before moving back to New York and settling in the suburbs north of New York City. As a kid my favorite books were action stories and outdoor adventures: sea stories, searches for buried treasure, sharks eating people… that kind of thing. Probably my all-time favorite was a book called
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“Harvard coach Bill Reid would later credit Teddy Roosevelt with saving football. But words in a rule book are one thing. Someone had to show the nation a new way to play the game. The Carlisle Indians did that.” 3 likes
“Lehigh caught on, but still couldn’t stop the drive. By the time Carlisle neared the Lehigh goal line, both teams were cracking up. As Carlisle bashed in for another score, lineman William Garlow entertained the defense with his running commentary. “Gentlemen, this hurts me as much as it does you, but I’m afraid the ball is over. We regret it, I am sure you regret it, and I hope nothing happening here will spoil what for us has been a very pleasant afternoon.” Fans in the stands, who couldn’t hear Garlow, had no idea why players who’d just surrendered a touchdown were doubled over with laughter.” 1 likes
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