All American: The Rise and Fall of Jim Thorpe

All American: The Rise and Fall of Jim Thorpe

by Bill Crawford
     
 

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"All American is riveting and grand–that rare pairing of exquisite writing and unassailable research. Crawford delivers you to an age when iconic titans like Jim Thorpe and Pop Warner marched across the planet, and he is the perfect guide to their enormous triumphs and tragedies. This is epic American history at its page-turning finest."
–Bill… See more details below

Overview

"All American is riveting and grand–that rare pairing of exquisite writing and unassailable research. Crawford delivers you to an age when iconic titans like Jim Thorpe and Pop Warner marched across the planet, and he is the perfect guide to their enormous triumphs and tragedies. This is epic American history at its page-turning finest."
–Bill Minutaglio, author of City on Fire and First Son: George W. Bush and the Bush Family Dynasty

He was the greatest football running back of his era, leading his Carlisle Indian Industrial School team to victory over all the great college powerhouses. King Gustav of Sweden called him "the greatest athlete in the world" after he won gold medals for the decathlon and pentathlon at the 1912 Olympic Games. Yet Jim Thorpe was also at the center of the greatest sports scandal of the twentieth century–a scandal that took away his Olympic medals and banned him forever from intercollegiate sports.

Now, in this revealing new biography, Bill Crawford captures Jim Thorpe’s remarkable rise and fall. From his youth on Oklahoma’s Sac and Fox Indian reservation to his astounding feats on the gridiron, from his Olympic triumphs to his complex relationship with coach "Pop" Warner, who mentored, exploited, and ultimately betrayed him, All American brings you up close and personal with the greatest athlete of the twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Crawford's terse, punchy biography of sports legend Thorpe (1888-1953) illuminates the current debate over the exploitation of unpaid college athletes by money-making, headline-grabbing educational institutions. Thorpe's own story is familiar: of mixed Caucasian and Native American background, Thorpe was raised on an Oklahoma reservation and was a somewhat obstinate kid before being sent to the Carlisle School, where educators sought to "detach Indians from their native `savagery.' " Thorpe's awe-inspiring athletic prowess was harnessed for the football team by the school's bullying coach, "Pop" Warner. The young sport, a brutal endeavor still played without guards, was just beginning to catch on when, in 1911, Thorpe led Carlisle to a stunning upset over Harvard. The next year, Thorpe won gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon at the Olympics and was arguably America's most lauded athlete. In 1913, though, true reports that Thorpe had played professional minor-league baseball (violating rules for Olympic amateurs) caused a scandal, marked by racist reporting and Thorpe's betrayal by the well-paid Warner, after which Thorpe was stripped of his medals. Texas journalist Crawford enlivens what is normally treated as a gauzy story of struggle against adversity with a no-nonsense approach, letting the racist attitudes against Thorpe speak for themselves and creating a resonant portrait of a champion in a hostile age. Photos. Agent, Jim Hornfischer. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Bad enough to have been used for athletic talent. But to be betrayed by one's coach and manager? There's the crux of this modest contribution to sports history. Sports scouts first reckoned that Jim Thorpe (1888-1953) was something special when they saw him play for the US Indian School at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. There, writes Texas journalist Crawford (Stevie Ray Vaughn: Caughter in the Crossfire, not reviewed), Thorpe came under the tutelage of the legendary Glenn Scobey Warner, "the first modern king-coach," who blended moments of stiff correctness with a love of drink, smoke, gambling, joking, painting, and poetry, and "who was not afraid of kicking, punching, or beating his players when he felt they deserved it." Now enshrined in football history, "Pop" Warner was also frequently in trouble with intercollegiate and international athletic boards everywhere for his fast-and-loose approach to the rules: Thorpe, for instance, was 21 when he was playing for the boarding school, excelling in basketball, baseball, track and field, and football, and he was not the oldest of the players. He received small stipends of various kinds, and he had also received fees for playing for minor-league teams before he earned fame and glory in the decathlon and pentathlon competitions at the 1912 Olympic Games. When a Massachusetts paper revealed his professional past, Thorpe was stripped of his Olympic honors. Writes Crawford, "The scandal threatened to expose the financial details of the Carlisle Athletic Association, Warner's business empire that operated on the edge of legality." Warner believed that the story was meant to force Thorpe out of the amateur ranks and into the majors, but he disavowedThorpe all the same: "Thorpe would have to take the fall, and Warner would have to push him." Fortunately for Warner, Thorpe did take the fall, gracefully and effectively ending his career. It would be more than half a century before the International Olympic Committee struck the word "amateur" from its charter and allowed players like Thorpe to compete. An athlete who merits recognition today, here given justifiable due. Agent: Jim Hornfischer/Hornfischer Literary Management
From the Publisher
* Crawford’s terse, punchy biography of sports legend Thorpe (1888-1953) illuminates the current debate over the exploitation of unpaid college athletes by money-making, headline-grabbing educational institutions. Thorpe’s own story is familiar: of mixed Caucasian and Native American background, Thorpe was raised on an Oklahoma reservation and was a somewhat obstinate kid before being sent to the Carlisle School, where educators sought to "detach Indians from their native ‘savagery.’ " Thorpe’s awe-inspiring athletic prowess was harnessed for the football team by the school’s bullying coach, "Pop" Warner. The young sport, a brutal endeavor still played without guards, was just beginning to catch on when, in 1911, Thorpe led Carlisle to a stunning upset over Harvard. The next year, Thorpe won gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon at the Olympics and was arguably America’s most lauded athlete. In 1913, though, true reports that Thorpe had played professional minor-league baseball (violating rules for Olympic amateurs) caused a scandal, marked by racist reporting and Thorpe’s betrayal by the well-paid Warner, after which Thorpe was stripped of his medals. Texas journalist Crawford enlivens what is normally treated as a gauzy story of struggle against adversity with a no-nonsense approach, letting the racist attitudes against Thorpe speak for themselves and creating a resonant portrait of a champion in a hostile age. Photos. Agent, Jim Hornfischer. (Nov.) (Publishers Weekly, September 13, 2004)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780470322710
Publisher:
Turner Publishing Company
Publication date:
04/21/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
1,064,260
File size:
2 MB

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