A biography of America’s greatest all-around athlete that “goes beyond the myth and into the guts of Thorpe’s life, using extensive research, historical nuance, and bittersweet honesty” (Los Angeles Times), 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. Most famously, he won gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. A member of the Sac and Fox Nation, he 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 awesome talent, Thorpe’s life was a struggle against the odds. At Carlisle, he faced the racist assimilationist philosophy “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” His gold medals were unfairly rescinded because he had played minor league baseball, and his supposed allies turned away from him when their own reputations were at risk. 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 survived, determined to shape his own destiny, his perseverance becoming another mark of his mythic stature.
Path Lit by Lightning “[reveals] Thorpe as a man in full, whose life was characterized by both soaring triumph and grievous loss” (The Wall Street Journal).