Fire on the Track: Betty Robinson and the Triumph of the Early Olympic Women

Roseanne Montillo. Crown, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-1-101-90615-6
Against the backdrop of the Great Depression, Montillo (The Wilderness of Ruin) traces the fascinating story of Betty Robinson, an Olympic-track-and-field trailblazer. Montillo is a brilliant storyteller who introduces Robinson in 1931, as she is being driven to a local funeral home, assumed dead, after a devastating plane crash that puts her life—and future Olympic hopes—in jeopardy. As a high school athlete, Robinson came just a tenth of a second short of the U.S. indoor track record. Robinson went on to join the first female track-and-field team to compete in the 1928 Olympics and won gold for the U.S. In telling Robinson’s story, Montillo ably traces women’s fight for inclusion and equality in competitive sports while unearthing decades-old examples of the biases and challenges women in competitive sports still face to this day (some detractors claimed that the Olympics were creating “ ‘manly’ women”; others questioned an athletic woman’s gender). Montillo also includes riveting portraits of Tidye Pickett and Louise Stokes—the first female African-American runners. Montillo has written an engaging, insightful look at an era in women’s sports. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/28/2017
Release date: 10/17/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-0-451-48252-5
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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