Jim Thorpe was one of the greatest athletes who ever lived. He played professional football, Major League Baseball, and won Olympic gold medals in track & field. But his life wasn’t an easy one. Born on the Sac and Fox Reservation in 1887, he encountered much family tragedy, and was sent as a young boy to various Indian boarding schools—strict, cold institutions that didn’t allow their students to hold on to their Native American languages and traditions. Jim ran away from school many times, until he found his calling at Pennsylvania’s Carlisle Indian School. There, the now-legendary coach Pop Warner recognized Jim’s athletic excellence and welcomed him onto the football and track teams.
Focusing on Jim Thorpe’s years at Carlisle, this book brings his early athletic career—and especially his college football days—to life, while also dispelling some myths about him and movingly depicting the Native American experience at the turn of the twentieth century. This is a book for history buffs as well as sports fans—an illuminating and lively read about a truly great American.
Drawing on meticulous research, Bruchac (Wabi) presents Jim Thorpe's (1887 1953) complex story, focusing on his years at Haskell and Carlisle Indian Schools, as a kind of imagined autobiography. Thorpe excelled at football, baseball and track, winning two gold medals in the 1912 Olympics for the latter. An error-ridden press story stated that he had played summer Class D baseball in North Carolina in 1909 and 1910, earning nominal pay; the piece unleashed a chain of events that culminated in Thorpe signing a proffered "confession" and being stripped of his Olympic honors. By adopting an equanimous, measured voice to serve as Thorpe's first-person narrative, Bruchac shines new light on facets of the Sac and Fox Indian's amateur career, from highlights of Carlisle's wins against college football's greats, to the mishandling of funds endemic at both the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian schools. Bruchac illuminates Thorpe's complicated relationship with his Carlisle football coach, Glenn "Pop" Warner, whose own flaws emerge. (Warner led his winning teams while controlling proceeds from ticket sales and, arguably, Thorpe's amateur status.) In a cogent author's note, Bruchac explains that his research revealed many errors in previous books about Thorpe; and although he calls this a "novelized" account, he quickly points out that "this is not a work of fiction" and "much of the dialogue is taken from research." A selected bibliography and a peppering of period photographs round out an impressive work of scholarship. Ages 10-up.
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I'm reading this book in class and it is amazing and beautiful . I recommend this book to anybody who likes sports.