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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

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,136 ratings  ·  153 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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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,136 ratings  ·  153 reviews

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Start your review of Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics
Sean Gibson
Jan 15, 2016 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.
Sleepless Dreamer
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Triumph falls into the niche of books describing an athlete in between wars. It reminded me of Devil at My Heels: A Heroic Olympian's Astonishing Story of Survival as a Japanese POW in World War II and Bobby Fischer Goes to War: How the Soviets Lost the Most Extraordinary Chess Match of All Time. The focus here is about Jesse Owens, who competed and absolutely dominated the 1936 Berlin Olympics, winning four gold medals. 

The 1936 Olympics were fraught with political tensions. The USA had conside
Nov 07, 2009 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
Laurie DelaCruz
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First, I have to say the *only* reason I gave this 4 stars is because the writer's style is very dry, difficult to wade through at times. And the personal side of Jesse Owens, the man off the track, was left virtually completely off the pages. Not much was fleshed out to give us a true feel for the man himself, not just the athlete.

That being said, I so thoroughly enjoyed reading about this man. I am a sucker for any book that showcases a man who triumphs over seemingly insurmountable odds, and
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
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
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I enjoyed the book, it's a bit cursory. I would have liked more detail, more depth. Owens and his story are important and I wanted more: more about the man, more about his relationships, in particular with other runners.

It wasn't always clear what Schaap's goal was: was this a biography of Owens? A story just focused on the Owens at the Olympics? A story about the politics and nationalism that threatened to swallow the Olympics? It feels at times a little of all these, and not enough o
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A fascinating story of his youth, where an alert coach saw the potential in an elementary school child.

I read it as a hard copy, so have few quotes from this engaging book.

It skillfully compares the racial discrimination in the USA with Hitler’s discrimination against Jews and his desire to prove the Aryan race superior using the 1936 Olympics.

“Owens was accustomed to that particular attitude (of discrimination) and inured to it. His lifelong refusal to allow bigots to truly bother him was often
Gracie Addis
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was extremely inspiring. It showed Jesse Owens story as he struggled with racism while trying to succeed in his sport. He persevered and made it to the olympics. I loved how informational it was. I learned a lot from this book and it helped me realize even more how hard it was for minorities in Nazi Germany. I would recommend this book for everybody, I think everyone can learn from this book.
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jesse Owens was born in an era when the world had seen one world war already and was slowly getting into one more. The book mainly talks about Jesse’s achievements in his ‘blitzkrieg’ path to stardom, the controversies and the politics that was in play for a black American who had to prove more than anyone that he is American and is patriotic about his country.

The politics around boycotting the Olympics. It was 1936. No one knew what Hitler was up to. But it does draw parallel to current world e
Ryan H
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
A historic Olympic performance in Nazi Germany, where the Jewish were persecuted, by Owens who faced his own racial problems at home in America.
Jenna N
Jun 28, 2019 rated it liked it
I like Owens' story, but the book was pretty dull.
John Willis
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great breakdown of the day by day events leading up to the Olympics and the dynamics of the interactions of Owens, Long, and the interactions with Hitler and the Germans.
Sep 21, 2009 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
Letitia Moffitt
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I saw the movie "Race" on an airplane recently and decided I wanted to read more about Jesse Owens in the Olympics. This book was just what I was looking for. The prose is very readable, and Schaap does a good job of describing both Owens's life and the important other players and events of the time without one distracting us too much from the other. It kind of irked me that the movie took certain typically Hollywood liberties with the truth (the part about the relay is completely changed, when ...more
Jun 16, 2009 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?
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-popsugar
For someone named Jesse Owen, I sure don't know very much about Jesse Owens. Fortunately, this book was a fantastic overview of his most triumphant moments: his 4 gold medals at the 1936 summer olympics in Nazi Germany. Highly recommend!!!
Jun 14, 2007 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.
Kylie Loughney
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
In the book, Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics, author, Jeremy Schaap, transports the reader back to the 1920s to highlight the life of African-American Olympic runner Jesse Owens. He begins by briefly depicting Jesse's childhood and how he initially gets into running. Something I really liked was how much Schaap highlighted the relationship between Riley and Owens. Riley was Jesse's white gym coach who saw talent in Jesse's untrained legs and pushed him into the tra ...more
Makenna Thorpe
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Perseverance and Glory of Jesse Owens
This book opened up a whole window of curiosity for me. After reading this story, I craved to learn more information about the Hitler olympics. Through the eyes of an onlooker, the reader gets to dive into the conflict and segregation that was going on at the time in Germany. Hitler labelled the concept of “Aryan Superiority,” which said that only certain people were more powerful and able to achieve greatness.
Jesse Owens came from an unstable backgroun
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
After reading Triumph, I learned many valuable lessons. One being that to never give up on dreams, even if other's are trying to get in your way. Throughout the book Jesse faced many hardships. He was seen out partying while, having a committed relationship at home. This put a strain on his relationship and his running. Overall, the book is a must read. It takes you through a time period that you were probably not alive during. Shows the segregation and discrimination through the eyes of an Afri ...more
Mar 23, 2017 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
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Victory! This word represents the book Triumph by Jeremy Shaap because it is about Jesse Owens, and he would always win during high school, college, and the olympics. I believe that this book will make me want to read other books like this because I really enjoy reading about the Olympics and Track and Field. This book was definitely a page-turner because once I read something, I would want to know what happened next. Triumph was kind of a complex book because the book would change from being ab ...more
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
I've only read two sports books in my life. They were both supposed to be 'amazing,' but I just don't particularly enjoy the genre. This one was interesting in that the story played out in a more interesting point in history, so that helped quite a bit. I can definitely appreciate the obvious amount of research that went into writing this book. That in itself was definitely 'amazing.' But the story... meh. I've definitely read more interesting stories. I did find the bit about how the movie base ...more
Gerald Guy
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I became aware of the legendary Jesse Owens when I was a teenager in the 1960s, but never explored the happenings of the week he defied Hitler in the 1936 Olympic Games. Jeremy Schaap did a wonderful job of documenting the event and the political uproar that engulfed the event prior to the outbreak of WWII. I learned things I didn’t know. For instance, the gold medalist’s name was really James Cleveland but his family called him JC. When asked his name in a new classroom in Cleveland OH, he shyl ...more
Lindsay Hickman
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a very easy and fun read, I couldn't wait to turn each and every page. I am a self proclaimed sports fanatic and one of my favorite subjects throughout school was always history, so I truly didn't think I would like this book. I thought it would glide over the flaws in Jesse Owens' life and character, and even more so just breeze right through the race relations and major political rifts of this time. But I was wrong, while the author definitely loves sports, he paints a very historical ...more
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
I was not anticipating much drama from this book about Jesse Owens's famous and incredible performance at the 1936 Olympics. Even as a non-fan, I knew that story. However, author Jeremy Schaap brings excitement and meaning to Owens's record-setting acts of athleticism by placing them in the context of American racism and German fascism. Some of the most interesting characters here are not athletes, but the Führer and his favored filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl. If you're interested in the history of ...more
Grant Den Herder
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The story of Jesse Owens’ life is incredible. I think we take for granted the stories of super-athletes today, but Jesse Owens was the greatest athlete of his day. The fact that he was a black athlete in 1930’s America could be discussed for days. In his early life, Jesse tried to keep politics and sport separate, but reading this story shows that sport and politics overlap, and cannot be cut clean from one another. That’s a big lesson that is relevant today. Athletes have a platform, and their ...more
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Schaap's brief telling of Owen's road to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin is a perfect book for someone who knows little of the story. However, both Owen's story, the other pieces related to these Olympics, as well as the iron grip the Amateur Athletic Union had over all the athletes, deserves a deeper dive.
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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

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6 likes · 1 comments
“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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