Olympic Pride, American Prejudice: The Untold Story of 18 African Americans Who Defied Jim Crow and Adolf Hitler To Compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Atria. Feb. 2020. 400p. ISBN 9781501162152. pap. $28. SPORTS
In 1936, Jesse Owens participated in the Berlin Olympic Games, making history by winning four Olympic Gold Medals. Here, documentary filmmaker Riley collaborates with Travis Thrasher (American Omens) and author and actor Blair Underwood to tell the story of other African American athletes who participated in the 1936 Olympic games alongside Owens. This important historical book is a companion to the documentary of the same name released in 2016. For a number of the athletes, the authors start by telling their stories beginning in childhood. This can be confusing as the story is told chronologically and jumps from athlete to athlete in a certain part of his or her life and then circles back to an earlier time. The amount of research, however, that went into both projects is impressive, presenting details about how conflicted some athletes were on boycotting the games.
VERDICT Even though the organization of the book could have been improved, overall it will appeal to readers interested in the history of the Olympics and World War II and might best serve as a companion piece to the documentary.

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