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Publisher's Summary

A riveting new biography of America’s greatest all-around athlete by the best-selling 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 His gold medals were unfairly rescinded because he had played minor league baseball.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.

©2022 David Maraniss. All rights reserved. (P)2022 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What listeners say about Path Lit by Lightning

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Mr. Maraniss, leave the reading to the professioal

On a very long road trip I listened to Mr. Maraniss read. Except for switching to the radio (ugh) it was all I had. I stopped after about 7 hours. The book would have been much more enjoyable with a professional reader. For everyday conversation I'm sure he's a fine conversationalist. But for an audiobook, not so much. I frequently had to back up to be sure I caught the last word(s). As he approaches the end of a sentence he begins to trail off so that the last syllable is inaudible. Most of the professionals help bring a book to life, Not so with Mr. Maraniss. Deeply researched and deftly written, no doubt a great deal of work went into this book. Too bad it comes across so flat. Not the voice for an audiobook.

2 people found this helpful

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Way Too Long

24 hours of the most tedious and repetitive material I have ever listened to. The story could easily been done in 6 hours or less. This was a true beat down!!!! My first and last for this author for sure. The narration was absolutely terrible.

1 person found this helpful

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  • SH
  • 09-05-22

Authors can’t always narate

Made it 70% through the story before it became monotonous. A big part of the issue is that the author did not add any interest by being the narrator but rather detracted with his scratchy voice. A professional actor or reader would have improved the experience.

1 person found this helpful

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Perfect summer read

David Maraniss has written many of the best political and sports biographies of our time. His latest, on Jim Thorpe, is one of his best. He illuminates the incredibly compelling and heartbreaking story of the greatest athlete of all time. His avuncular narration adds to the whole experience . 5 stars.

1 person found this helpful

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Wow! Just Wow!

As good as his book on Lombardi and the ending is great.
This book is well worth your time

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Broad & Deep - A Thorough Review of an Icon Review

I loved the depth of this book. Like many of my era we knew of Jim Thorpe but not the details… The author more than delivers and the end result is a deep appreciation of a tragic but celebrated life.

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Sports and racism

I picked this one up because I really enjoy sports biographies and because of how great the previous one by David Maraniss was that I listened to. This one was good, but not great. Maraniss read it himself. He should have gotten a pro. It would have made it a better experience. Second, it wasn’t a full on sports book. Maraniss’s main focus was about the poor treatment of American Indians during the period and Thorpe in the particular. I learned a lot about that, but I had really expected the focus would be about Thorpe’s football career (he’s widely regarded as the best players of the game’s first 50 years) and the Olympics that he dominated. The book discusses both of course but spends as much time on the making of the movie about his life as it does on those things. The blatant racism against American Indians at the time wasn’t a shock, but it was surprising that in some ways they were treated better than blacks. For example, Thorpe played Major League Baseball three decades before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in MLB for blacks. Also, even in the south in the 1910s, Thorpe was able to stay in the same hotels as his teammates. This was surprising given that I know that even black college athletes couldn’t stay in the same hotels as their teammates well into the 1960s. This is not to say Thorpe and American Indians of the time had it easy or were treated fairly. Far from it. Not only couldn’t Thorpe vote because of his race, he wasn’t even a US citizen because of his race. Seems odd for the nation’s best athlete at the Olympics to not be an American citizen despite being born here just because he was born American Indian doesn’t it? Like I said, I learned a lot, but was expecting the focus to be a little different. There is a lot of commentary about the treatment of the American Indians and their perspective on a lot of things, but Maraniss is a white man. For some of it, it was odd because Maraniss would talk about white men making decision on what is best for American Indians, but in the book it was a white author making decisions on the treatment of American Indians. In certain things, yes, it was universally bad. In others, an American Indian perspective would have carried more weight with me than Maraniss’s. In this, I’ve used the phrase American Indian. I did this because the book used that phrase and also just Indian because Indian was how Thorpe referred to himself.

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Too long and bad narration

This book was well too long. About 3 hours of it was just reading letters written by Thorpe that could have been left out with no degradation of story. The author should not have narrated, he was too monotone and did not bring the story to life.

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Good content but a slog

This is an important story to tell. The author made the cardinal mistake of reading his own book. Kind of emotionless. Leave to the pros who could possibly have brought the book to life. Though maybe not. It was more like a well researched chronological biography that you would expect from a college student. There was little “story telling”. And I am sure there were stories to tell. I am glad I read it as there really is quite a bit of good content. But listener beware.

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Great Story

Somewhat of a tragic story, but the book is too long. At points the story got repetitive.