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Publisher's Summary

In 1936, against a backdrop of swastikas flying and storm troopers looming, an African-American son of sharecroppers set three world records and won an unprecedented four gold medals, single-handedly crushing Hitler's myth of Aryan supremacy. The story of Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympic Games is that of a high-profile athlete giving a performance that transcends sports. But it is also the intimate and complex tale of the courage of one remarkable man.

Drawing on unprecedented access to the Owens family, previously unpublished interviews, and exhaustive archival research, Jeremy Schaap transports us to Nazi Germany to weave this dramatic tale.

From the start, American participation in the games was controversial. A boycott, based on reports of Nazi hostility to Jews, was afoot, but it was thwarted by the president of the American Olympic Committee. At the games themselves, the plots and intrigues continued: Owens was befriended by a German rival, broad jumper Luz Long, who helped Owens win the gold medal at his own expense. Two Jewish sprinters were, at the last moment, denied the chance to compete for the United States out of misguided politeness to the Nazi hosts. And a myth was born that Hitler himself had snubbed Owens.

Like Neal Bascomb's The Perfect Mile, Triumph captures this momentous episode in sports - and - world, history in a nuanced yet page-turning narrative full of drama, suspense, and color.

©2007 Jeremy Schaap (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Snappy and dramatic, with an eye for the rousing climax....Schaap makes good use of his prodigious research." (Publishers Weekly)

Featured Article: The Moments That Shaped a Nation


There are important events in American history that you learn about in school, or over the dinner table at home. There are moments you live through, fully aware of their historical importance, while others you only recognize as turning points in American history with time and hindsight. What’s easy to forget is that these moments are made up of people, either leading the way or caught up in the storm. Let’s take a look into a few such people and moments from America’s 20th century, and learn more about the path toward our continued fight for freedom and equality.

What listeners say about Triumph

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

race headwinds

This book was a great history of not only Jesse Owens, but how African Americans lived in the years just before World War II. The author does a great job of taking us right into the Olympics in Berlin. It provides a close up view on what is is like to be a member of a minority group in the run up to world class competition.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • S
  • 02-03-09

What an amazing athlete

I learned much about Jesse Owens as an athlete and a man. Good pace and narrator. Definitely worth a listen.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding Story... Performance a little slow

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

For the subject matter, yes. I wish this book had been done by a more engaging reader.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Jesse Owens

What three words best describe Shelly Frasier???s voice?

Just so so.

Do you think Triumph needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No, the story stands on its own.

Any additional comments?

No

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The most famous Olympics

This book is about Jesse Owens and the 1936 Olympics, but I guess I should say JC Owens. His name wasn’t Jesse. It was James Cleveland Owens and everyone called him JC, until he switched schools. His new teacher heard the kids calling him JC and thought they were saying Jesse. She asked him if that was right, being a shy kid he said yes and was Jesse from then on. I knew little about Owens before the book, so there was a lot of new information like that in the book for me. The 1936 Olympics are probably the most famous Olympics in modern history because they were hosted by Hitler just before the world found out just how evil he really was. Even what we knew then created debates on when the games should be moved from Germany and if not whether the US should boycott. Ultimately neither were done, but the debates were interesting. I’ve read several books that featured the 1936 Olympics and each has interesting details that I didn’t know before. This one was shorter than most I do at a little less than eight hours, but it was packed with information about Owens, Hitler and the era. Covering both sports and history, it was right up my alley. The author is Jeremy Schaap, son of longtime sports writer and broadcaster, Dick Schaap.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

History

What did you love best about Triumph?

Really learned a lot about the history surrounding the 1936 Olympics. May be too detailed for some listeners.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Book

Really great storey. Was very interesting learning about who and what Jesse Owens was about. Worth reading. Good narration.