Cover image for All American : the rise and fall of Jim Thorpe
All American : the rise and fall of Jim Thorpe
Crawford, Bill.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley & Sons, Inc., [2005]

Physical Description:
284 pages: illustrations ; 25 cm
American airedale -- An incorrigible youngster -- Men born shaggy -- Oklahoma buckaroo -- The hunchback play -- White man bathed in red -- Athletocracy -- Run fast good -- A perfect football machine -- Spreading the wealth -- The olympic idea -- Starting half back -- Rocky mount railroader -- Marvel of the age -- The greatest athlete in the world -- All-American -- The greatest swindle -- A man with no principle -- Masters of the white man's game -- Afterword : the continuing evil of "amateur" athletics.
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Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV697.T5 C73 2005 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
GV697.T5 C73 2005 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
GV697.T5 C73 2005 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

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All American is riveting and grand-that rare pairing of exquisite writing and unassailable research. Crawford delivers you to an age when iconic titans like Jim Thorpe and Pop Warner marched across the planet, and he is the perfect guide to their enormous triumphs and tragedies. This is epic American history at its page-turning finest.
-Bill Minutaglio, author of City on Fire and First Son: George W. Bush and the Bush Family Dynasty

He was the greatest football running back of his era, leading his Carlisle Indian Industrial School team to victory over all the great college powerhouses. King Gustav of Sweden called him ""the greatest athlete in the world"" after he won gold medals for the decathlon and pentathlon at the 1912 Olympic Games. Yet Jim Thorpe was also at the center of the greatest sports scandal of the twentieth century-a scandal that took away his Olympic medals and banned him forever from intercollegiate sports.

Now, in this revealing new biography, Bill Crawford captures Jim Thorpe's remarkable rise and fall. From his youth on Oklahoma's Sac and Fox Indian reservation to his astounding feats on the gridiron, from his Olympic triumphs to his complex relationship with coach ""Pop"" Warner, who mentored, exploited, and ultimately betrayed him, All American brings you up close and personal with the greatest athlete of the twentieth century.

Author Notes

Bill Crawford is a journalist and media producer who has written for Texas Monthly, the Austin Chronicle, and other publications. He is the coauthor of Stevie Ray Vaughan: Caught in the Crossfire and the author or coauthor of several other books.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

A case can be made that Jim Thorpe was America's greatest all-around athlete. He won the pentathlon and decathlon in the 1912 Olympics--a feat never duplicated--and he played on both a World Series baseball team and a professional championship football team. Yet he was also a tragic figure. He was stripped of his Olympic medals and records--they were reinstated posthumously--and the financial benefits he reaped from his athleticism were siphoned away by friends and ill-chosen advisors. Crawford recounts Thorpe's tumultuous life from a hardscrabble youth on an Oklahoma Indian reservation (during the era when Indian schools sought to wean children away from their savage roots) to his emergence as a football All-American at the Carlisle Indian Academy to his Olympic triumph and on to his later years, when he was virtually ignored. Crawford also devotes considerable space to Glenn Pop Warner, Thorpe's coach at Carlisle and later his financial advisor and de facto agent. Warner always benefited from his association with Thorpe, but the same can't be said for Thorpe's relationship with Warner. Crawford also sheds considerable light on the stripping of Thorpe's Olympic medals, citing evidence to suggest that professional baseball executives fomented the scandal as a way of forcing Thorpe to play pro ball. This is a carefully researched, thoroughly readable work that will have broad appeal among those with an interest in sports history. --Wes Lukowsky Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Crawford's terse, punchy biography of sports legend Thorpe (1888-1953) illuminates the current debate over the exploitation of unpaid college athletes by money-making, headline-grabbing educational institutions. Thorpe's own story is familiar: of mixed Caucasian and Native American background, Thorpe was raised on an Oklahoma reservation and was a somewhat obstinate kid before being sent to the Carlisle School, where educators sought to "detach Indians from their native `savagery.' " Thorpe's awe-inspiring athletic prowess was harnessed for the football team by the school's bullying coach, "Pop" Warner. The young sport, a brutal endeavor still played without guards, was just beginning to catch on when, in 1911, Thorpe led Carlisle to a stunning upset over Harvard. The next year, Thorpe won gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon at the Olympics and was arguably America's most lauded athlete. In 1913, though, true reports that Thorpe had played professional minor-league baseball (violating rules for Olympic amateurs) caused a scandal, marked by racist reporting and Thorpe's betrayal by the well-paid Warner, after which Thorpe was stripped of his medals. Texas journalist Crawford enlivens what is normally treated as a gauzy story of struggle against adversity with a no-nonsense approach, letting the racist attitudes against Thorpe speak for themselves and creating a resonant portrait of a champion in a hostile age. Photos. Agent, Jim Hornfischer. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

It is well known that Native American Jim Thorpe is considered the greatest athlete of his time and perhaps of all time and that he was wrongly stripped of the medals he won at the 1912 Olympic Games. What might be less widely recognized is that "shamateurism" was as rampant in American sports in Thorpe's day as it is today. James E. Sullivan controlled the Amateur Athletic Union with an iron hand and tried to pressure Congress into appropriating $100,000 for the U.S. team participating in the 1908 Games. Meanwhile, Glenn "Pop" Warner gave under-the-table payments to Thorpe and other football players at the tiny U.S. Indian School in Carlisle, PA, that he turned into a national power; he also pocketed profits from ticket sales, drank, gambled, and sometimes manhandled his charges. To cover up his complicity, Warner wrote the letter to Sullivan (who knew about Thorpe's dubious amateur status) that Thorpe signed admitting to the not uncommon practice of playing baseball for money while still an amateur. Journalist/ media producer Crawford writes about Thorpe but also about Warner, Sullivan, and the thin line that still exists between amateur and professional in college sports. Recommended for all public libraries.--Jim Burns, Jacksonville P.L., FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
1 American Airedalep. 5
2 An Incorrigible Youngsterp. 13
3 Men Born Shaggyp. 23
4 Oklahoma Buckaroop. 37
5 The "Hunchback" Playp. 45
6 "White Man Bathed in Red"p. 53
7 "Athletocracy"p. 63
8 "Run Fast Good"p. 69
9 A Perfect Football Machinep. 75
10 Spreading the Wealthp. 85
11 The Olympic Ideap. 95
12 Starting Halfbackp. 107
13 Rocky Mount Railroaderp. 121
14 Marvel of the Agep. 133
15 The Greatest Athlete in the Worldp. 161
16 All-Americanp. 177
17 The Swindlep. 197
18 A Man with No Principlep. 211
19 Masters of the White Man's Gamep. 225
Afterword: The Continuing Problem of "Amateur" Athleticsp. 239
Acknowledgmentsp. 245
Notesp. 251
Selected Bibliographyp. 263
Indexp. 271