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Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe

Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe

by David Maraniss
Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe

Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe

by David Maraniss


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One of the greatest athletes of our time, Jim Thorpe excelled in any sport he played. However, Thorpe did not live an easy life. Thorpe struggled against racism, alcoholism, and financial problems. His gold medals were stripped from him because he was Native American. Despite all these hardships, Thorpe persisted. David Maraniss does a wonderful job capturing Jim Thorpe as a man, rather than Jim Thorpe as an athlete.

A riveting new biography of America’s greatest all-around athlete by the bestselling author of the classic biography When Pride Still Mattered.

Jim Thorpe rose to world fame as a mythic talent who excelled at every sport. He won gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, was an All-American football player at the Carlisle Indian School, the star of the first class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and played major league baseball for John McGraw’s New York Giants. Even in a golden age of sports celebrities, he was one of a kind.

But despite his colossal skills, Thorpe’s life was a struggle against the odds. As a member of the Sac and Fox Nation, he encountered duplicitous authorities who turned away from him when their reputations were at risk. At Carlisle, he dealt with the racist assimilationist philosophy “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” His gold medals were unfairly rescinded because he had played minor league baseball. His later life was troubled by alcohol, broken marriages, and financial distress. He roamed from state to state and took bit parts in Hollywood, but even the film of his own life failed to improve his fortunes. But for all his travails, Thorpe did not succumb. The man survived, complications and all, and so did the myth.

Path Lit by Lightning is a great American story from a master biographer.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476748412
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 08/09/2022
Pages: 672
Sales rank: 2,632
Product dimensions: 6.70(w) x 9.40(h) x 2.00(d)

About the Author

David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post and a distinguished visiting professor at Vanderbilt University. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes for journalism and was a finalist three other times. Among his bestselling books are biographies of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Roberto Clemente, and Vince Lombardi, and a trilogy about the 1960s—Rome 1960; Once in a Great City (winner of the RFK Book Prize); and They Marched into Sunlight (winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Prize and Pulitzer Finalist in History).


Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wisconsin

Date of Birth:

August 6, 1949

Place of Birth:

Detroit, Michigan


University of Wisconsin

Table of Contents

Preface 1

1 "The Stuff His People Are Made Of" 5

2 Path Lit by Lightning 20

3 "This Is the Indians Home" 38

4 High Jump 61

5 Athletic Duties above Everything 81

6 The Newest Star 91

7 Railroaded 114

8 Almost There 128

9 Stockholm 152

10 Near Custer's Tomb 183

11 Lo, the Poor Indian! 200

12 Among the Giants 219

13 Around the World 231

14 The Reckoning 254

15 The Myth of a Vanishing Race 263

16 Never Look Up 273

17 Gains 284

18 Losses 298

19 Gamblers 309

20 Start to Finish 319

21 Oorang Indians 340

22 Letters 1 354

23 Letters 2 363

24 World Famous Indians 372

25 Pick and Shovel 394

26 "A Man Has to Keep Hustling" 403

27 Akapamata in Hollywood 416

28 Never Forgotten 440

29 Road to Utopia 459

30 Thunderbirds 475

31 "Have You Seen the Movie?" 497

32 Waving Good-Bye 519

Epilogue 543

Gratitude 569

Notes 575

Selected Bibliography 627

Image Credits 629

Index 631

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