Jesse Owens: An American Life

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9780029017807: Jesse Owens: An American Life

A biography of James Cleveland Owens, the tenth child of an Alabama sharecropper who won an unprecedented four gold medals in track and field at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It chronicles the public and private ambitions and ideals of a celebrated black athlete in an era of social change.

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Review:

In 1936, Jesse Owens became the man who showed up Hitler and his ideas of racial superiority at the 1936 "Nazi Olympics" in Berlin. Back home in the US, he faced all the frustrations of a talented black man whose name alone was enough to make money -- for other people. This is a powerful biography of an athlete who never lost his dignity.

From Publishers Weekly:

The 10th and last child of an Alabama sharecropper, James Cleveland Owens was taken to Ohio as a child. There, while still in junior high school, he encountered a white coach who recognized his phenomenal talent and loved him like a son, a relationship that figured significantly in the athlete's racial attitudes throughout his life, according to Baker, a historian at the University of Maine. After successes in high school and college, Owens scored his greatest triumph at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, winning four gold medals. For some years after that he tried to parlay his fame into money, an attempt made onerous by the difficulty of marketing running skills and the prevailing racial feelings of the '30s and '40s. Eventually, however, he became an Illinois state official and a respected spokesman for Republicanism. As his fame persisted, notes Baker, he began to make money through endorsements, dying in comfortable circumstances. History Book Club alternate.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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