The title says it all, really, as our author the estimable Jeremy Schaap tells the story of Jesse Owens’ astounding victories at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
I was a little disappointed in the tone of the writing, at least through the first part of the book, which briefly recounts Owens’ childhood and in more detail his college track career. I’m familiar with Schaap as a good sports writer — one of the best in fact, and a fine successor to his widely respected father Dick Schaap — and perhaps my expectations were a little high. Perhaps I’m being overly harsh. In any case there is a definite rah-rah Hallmark Card feeling to the early parts of the book, emphasized by the sometimes corny dialogue Schaap puts into the mouths of his protagonists.
Beyond feeling like I was being urged by the author to root for Owens (and honestly, why would I need such urging? Owens is an iconic figure in American and world sports history, and anyone picking up this book surely does so at least partly out of sympathy with him and a distaste for the Nazis), I got exactly what I wanted from the book, which was a detailed account of Jesse Owens qualifying for and competing at Hitler’s Olympics.
Read the rest of this entry »