Explodes off the blocks and proceeds with grace and fluidity.




From the author of Cinderella Man (2005), another true-life tale of an underdog asserting his worth with a sports triumph.

Schaap, the host of ESPN’s Outside the Lines, seeks to cut through the apocryphal tales that sprang up in the wake of Jesse Owens’s record-breaking performance at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin by drawing on accounts from sportswriters, eyewitnesses and the athlete himself. He attempts to get inside Owens’s head while exploring everything from Hitler’s alleged snubbing of black athletes to the nature of the unlikely friendship between the American track star and German long-jumper Luz Long. Like many African-Americans of the time, Owens (1913–80) grew up in poverty and grappled with discrimination. While at Ohio State, he pumped gas for hours each day to support his wife and young child; even though he’d tied several world records on his high-school track team, he was not offered a scholarship. Success and controversy followed. He endured accusations of obtaining money from the Ohio state legislature without having earned it, racy tabloid stories of romantic trysts and questions about the genetic advantages of black athletes. With the help of high-school mentor Charles Riley and college coach Larry Snyder, Owens qualified for the Olympics. After a lengthy debate about whether participation in the Nazi Games was ethical—a discussion that had special resonance for African-Americans, whose circumstances bore striking similarities to those faced by Jews—the U.S. chose to take part, setting the stage for Owens to show the world a true superman not descended from Aryan stock. The author offers an in-depth story whose only flaw is its narrow timeframe, depriving readers of a look at Owens’s later years.

Explodes off the blocks and proceeds with grace and fluidity.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-68822-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2006

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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