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

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The inspiring and irresistible true story of the women who broke barriers and finish-line ribbons in pursuit of Olympic Gold When Betty Robinson assumed the starting position at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, she was participating in what was only her fourth-ever organized track meet. She crossed the finish line as a gold medalist and the fastest woman in the world. T The inspiring and irresistible true story of the women who broke barriers and finish-line ribbons in pursuit of Olympic Gold When Betty Robinson assumed the starting position at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, she was participating in what was only her fourth-ever organized track meet. She crossed the finish line as a gold medalist and the fastest woman in the world. This improbable athletic phenom was an ordinary high school student, discovered running for a train in rural Illinois mere months before her Olympic debut. Amsterdam made her a star. But at the top of her game, her career (and life) almost came to a tragic end when a plane she and her cousin were piloting crashed. So dire was Betty's condition that she was taken to the local morgue; only upon the undertaker's inspection was it determined she was still breathing. Betty, once a natural runner who always coasted to victory, soon found herself fighting to walk. While Betty was recovering, the other women of Track and Field were given the chance to shine in the Los Angeles Games, building on Betty's pioneering role as the first female Olympic champion in the sport. These athletes became more visible and more accepted, as stars like Babe Didrikson and Stella Walsh showed the world what women could do. And--miraculously--through grit and countless hours of training, Betty earned her way onto the 1936 Olympic team, again locking her sights on gold as she and her American teammates went up against the German favorites in Hitler's Berlin. Told in vivid detail with novelistic flair, Fire on the Track is an unforgettable portrait of these trailblazers in action.


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The inspiring and irresistible true story of the women who broke barriers and finish-line ribbons in pursuit of Olympic Gold When Betty Robinson assumed the starting position at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, she was participating in what was only her fourth-ever organized track meet. She crossed the finish line as a gold medalist and the fastest woman in the world. T The inspiring and irresistible true story of the women who broke barriers and finish-line ribbons in pursuit of Olympic Gold When Betty Robinson assumed the starting position at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, she was participating in what was only her fourth-ever organized track meet. She crossed the finish line as a gold medalist and the fastest woman in the world. This improbable athletic phenom was an ordinary high school student, discovered running for a train in rural Illinois mere months before her Olympic debut. Amsterdam made her a star. But at the top of her game, her career (and life) almost came to a tragic end when a plane she and her cousin were piloting crashed. So dire was Betty's condition that she was taken to the local morgue; only upon the undertaker's inspection was it determined she was still breathing. Betty, once a natural runner who always coasted to victory, soon found herself fighting to walk. While Betty was recovering, the other women of Track and Field were given the chance to shine in the Los Angeles Games, building on Betty's pioneering role as the first female Olympic champion in the sport. These athletes became more visible and more accepted, as stars like Babe Didrikson and Stella Walsh showed the world what women could do. And--miraculously--through grit and countless hours of training, Betty earned her way onto the 1936 Olympic team, again locking her sights on gold as she and her American teammates went up against the German favorites in Hitler's Berlin. Told in vivid detail with novelistic flair, Fire on the Track is an unforgettable portrait of these trailblazers in action.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    TeaAndBooks

    Style: 4/5 Writing:5/5 Originality: 4/5 Firstly, a huge thank you to Blogging for Books and Edelweiss for my free eBook review copy of this book! This is a true story of the women who defied all odds in pursuit of Olympic Gold. We learn about the story of Betty Robinson. When she took the starting position at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, she was taking part in her fourth ever track meet that she organised. She became a star very soon, but her life almost and very nearly ended after a tra Style: 4/5 Writing:5/5 Originality: 4/5 Firstly, a huge thank you to Blogging for Books and Edelweiss for my free eBook review copy of this book! This is a true story of the women who defied all odds in pursuit of Olympic Gold. We learn about the story of Betty Robinson. When she took the starting position at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, she was taking part in her fourth ever track meet that she organised. She became a star very soon, but her life almost and very nearly ended after a tragic plane crash that both she and her cousin were piloting in. Betty’s life changed from that moment; her condition was so critical that she was taken to a morgue where she was soon determined to have been breathing. Betty could not do activities she used to be able to do and could scarcely walk! However, she became an inspiration when other women were given an opportunity to shine in the Los Angeles game. With pain and hope, Betty soon earned her way back on the 1936 Olympic team. This story is both inspirational, true and vividly told. I was enthralled by the writing style and learning about Betty’s struggles in life. Betty is a true inspiration. She came fighting back after a plane crash that nearly took her life and ruined her career. Apart from Betty, there are a lot of other females mentioned all from diverse backgrounds. They caused an uproar amongst people who only believed women should belong in the kitchen. The story was informative and rather passive at times. After a while, it did pick up, but I did find it dragged a bit at times. However, I did enjoy this book as we need more true-life stories of women who changed the world for other women. The style of writing is incredible, however, and I was captivated throughout the story. I would definitely recommend this book and I hope everyone takes a chance on it!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    terribly written - only the subject matter saved it

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    Is it just me or have there really been a number of interesting nonfiction books about women in history--in sports, in war, in espionage/codebreaking. And likely in other fields I've simply missed. This is another good one about women athletes I've mostly never heard of (except for Babe Didrikson, whom I first encountered in the Tracy/Hepburn movie "Pat and Mike"). Betty Robinson won the first Olympic gold medal ever awarded at the 1928 games for the 100 meter dash. Then she nearly died in a sma Is it just me or have there really been a number of interesting nonfiction books about women in history--in sports, in war, in espionage/codebreaking. And likely in other fields I've simply missed. This is another good one about women athletes I've mostly never heard of (except for Babe Didrikson, whom I first encountered in the Tracy/Hepburn movie "Pat and Mike"). Betty Robinson won the first Olympic gold medal ever awarded at the 1928 games for the 100 meter dash. Then she nearly died in a small plane crash in 1931 and was told she'd never walk again. But there she is running a leg of the 400m relay in 1936 and winning gold again. There are other women--Stella Walsh, Tidye Pickett (first Af-Am woman athlete in track and field at Olympics), Helen Stephens--and their stories are perhaps less dramatic but no less interesting. All were groundbreakers in a world that didn't believe women could or should compete in track and field sports. Even US Olympic officials discriminated against them. The book moves at a brisk pace and while it's well-researched, it's filled with anecdotes that make it easy reading; intriguing characters; gender issues in sports and other provocative topics; since of time and place--especially interesting for me at least are the descriptions of the Berlin Olympics in 1936; inspirational, bittersweet, earnest tone. Despite one quibble--there are two references to panty hose which didn't exist until 1959--n insightful, provocative biography.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth S

    I was fortunate enough to win Fire on the Track in a goodreads giveaway because the world is a crazy place like that! With the discussion surrounding gender equality more at the forefront than ever before and the Olympics currently happening, this book felt like a particularly poignant study. In Fire on the Track, Roseanne Montillo provides readers with a fascinating yet relatively brief look into the lives of several women who made history by competing in track and field at the Olympics, changing I was fortunate enough to win Fire on the Track in a goodreads giveaway because the world is a crazy place like that! With the discussion surrounding gender equality more at the forefront than ever before and the Olympics currently happening, this book felt like a particularly poignant study. In Fire on the Track, Roseanne Montillo provides readers with a fascinating yet relatively brief look into the lives of several women who made history by competing in track and field at the Olympics, changing the course of the all-male games forever. The main focus of the book is Betty Robinson, the first woman to ever win an Olympic gold medal for track and field. Her story is an inspiring one, and it sets the parameters with which we look at the other women quite well. We learn about her home life, the encounter with a boys' team coach that would get her into running, and her journey to the most important sporting event in the world. Betty set incredible records during her lifetime, but she also faced challenges ranging from the obvious (gender discrimination) to the shockingly traumatic (a plane crash that left doctors wondering if she would ever walk again, let alone run). What's so interesting about Betty is that, while she's an icon and a noteworthy example, she's also very much a product of her time. When seeing female runners collapse after dealing with a longer track event, she stipulated that perhaps such an undertaking just wasn't for ladies. Hearing a female athlete make such a claim today would be horrifying - and indeed, learning that was how she felt certainly felt like a disappointment. Yet it's hard to get up in arms about it, because at the time, Betty was already shattering barriers; her views were not the positive, female-empowerment ones we may want, but her actions helped provoke positive change. There was still time to foster mentalities that coincided with actions (the 1920s were not necessarily the precipice of such a movement). At the beginning of the book, Montillo throws in mentions of some of the other women. This wasn't my favorite technique at first, because it left me scrambling to keep track of everyone. Which girl was from where? Which one had that relative? But once I got used to the style, it became a helpful tool, because we were able to trace the paths of all four central ladies by comparing and contrasting them to one another, with Betty as our foundation. As they began to cross paths at events, this proved particularly useful. Helen Stephens competed in both track and field events, and set phenomenal records of her own. I enjoyed parts of her story, but found myself horrified by others. (The next bit will be marked as a spoiler for anyone who may find certain topics uncomfortable) (view spoiler)[As a child, Helen was repeatedly sexually assaulted and raped by her cousin. This was undoubtedly the most disturbing part of the book, though Montillo did a good job of keeping it straight to the point and fitting it into the bigger picture, keeping the focus on Helen and her amazing story rather than the despicable things she had to suffer. Unfortunately for Helen (and really any woman encountering a power-hungry man), she had to deal with inappropriate behavior even when she was an Olympian: upon meeting the star athlete, Hitler pinched her butt. (hide spoiler)] Interestingly, since I hadn't expected Fire on the Track to delve much into personal matters aside from details of each woman's upbringing, we also learn Helen was a lesbian - something that wasn't really acknowledged, and definitely wasn't accepted, at the time. Betty's acceptance of her despite this open secret when so many others shunned Helen made for a welcome reappearance of our main athlete. Stella Walsh (or Stanisława Walasiewicz), dealt with insults and troubling labels more than anyone else studied in this book. Though the proper term for it wouldn't come until years later, Stella was intersex. The fallout from this was quite interesting to me, because I didn't know anything about the IOC's rules on "checking" someone's gender. (In fact, Helen - not Stella - was forced to undergo "verification" she was a girl based on some doctor prodding at her genitalia in response to rumors she was actually a man because of how un-ladylike her competitive skills were.) Though all of the women in this book lived in America and were US citizens at their time of death, Stella was born in Poland and chose to compete for her native country instead of the one in which she spent most of her formative years. The reasoning behind this decision made complete sense, and was something I had never considered before since I hadn't heard of a similar case. I won't go into it, because I don't want to lay out the whole book in this review! Last but not least is Babe Didrikson, who had enough of a personality for every person mentioned. Her accomplishments were heavily covered, but her story is perhaps the least detailed, and with good reason because of the turn it took. A feisty young woman, Babe was the epitome of a competitor who is not here to make friends. She riled up plenty of the girls who went to her school or who were on her team, but it hardly mattered. What mattered was getting to the Olympics and winning, and Babe knew she could do it. However, she ended up making a choice that cost her quite dearly. While Fire on the Track is about these four athletes, it's also about so much more. It doesn't shy away from mentioning the obstacles it took to get a female track team to compete in Amsterdam in 1928. Even today, plenty of people unfortunately see women as lesser in the realm of sports; Betty and crew are here to show you just how false that is. Yet the road was incredibly bumpy even for clear champions: photoshoots with pearls, dainty parade appearances, endless insults and comparisons to gross men, reminders they needed to marry and have children once the games finished, and efforts to keep them away from college were only part of what these ladies faced. I greatly enjoyed how Montillo broke down the book into sections based on three different Olympic games. She would flash back to an individual's childhood and progression in the sport at different, fitting times in order to augment the story. But even with the glimpses into the past, this setup provided a clear, strong, chronological narrative that helped keep everyone's stories straight and see the true impact each athlete had. Fire on the Track is an enjoyable read, and I think it has the right amount of information stuffed inside. It's a quick book to complete, and it may leave you wanting to know more, but it still stuffs your brain full of new, intriguing knowledge. If you have any interest in the subject matter, I definitely recommend giving it a try when you get the chance.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jeimy

    I would have liked for it to be solely focused on the trials and tribulations of the female Olympians, but the book also detours to namedrop other better-known—male—figures of the time.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christi

    When you watch the Olympic games there are always those few events that you really enjoy watching. I've always admired runners, the sprinting events are just incredible to watch, and I've always wanted to know more about the sport as a whole, which is why I was so excited that I found Fire on the Track by Roseanne Montillo. When I first started this book I thought it was going to focus mostly on Elizabeth "Betty" Robinson, the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal, but Ms. Montillo went above When you watch the Olympic games there are always those few events that you really enjoy watching. I've always admired runners, the sprinting events are just incredible to watch, and I've always wanted to know more about the sport as a whole, which is why I was so excited that I found Fire on the Track by Roseanne Montillo. When I first started this book I thought it was going to focus mostly on Elizabeth "Betty" Robinson, the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal, but Ms. Montillo went above and beyond, focusing not only on Ms. Robinson but numerous other Olympic women and the struggles that they faced not only during the 1928, 1932, and 1936 Olympics, but also in their personal lives. Extremely well researched and written, the author takes you to a time where a woman's place was in the home. Women were not supposed to be athletes or even educated for that matter. Every woman was supposed to be content being a house wife and having a family but this was a time of change in America. We had made it through World War I and were about to be thrusted into the throws of Great Depression. Everything was changing. The first woman participated in the Olympic games in Paris in 1900, and even then they were only allowed to participate in "safe" events like lawn tennis and golf. The 1928 games was the first Olympics that women were allowed to compete in the track and field event. This came with a lot of opposition because it was feared that women participating in track and field events would either deem them unattractive to men or actually turn them into men. After a struggle between the International Olympic Committee and the Fédération Sportive Féminine Internationale women were allowed equal entrance into the Olympics. Fire on the Track gives a detailed background into many of the women athletes that competed in track and field. You get a clear picture of the events that took place and the people that were there to experience them. Some of the details are incredibly personal and graphic but it helps you gain an understanding of that individual and appreciate what all they had to overcome to compete at such a high level. They had to endure prejudice as well as family opposition, their own personal trials and tribulations, and personal demons on the road to the Olympics. All of these women paved the way for all female athletes today and I am honored to now know their story. This was such an interesting biography and a subject I now find myself fascinated with, not only with women athletes in the Olympics, but the Olympics as a whole. It is extremely well written and with such incredible attention to detail that at times you find yourself getting lost in that world. The book is divided into three sections: the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, and finally the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. While I enjoyed the book as a whole the details of the 1936 games were the most intriguing to me, especially knowing what Hitler and the Nazi party were up to at that time, and seeing how much they kept covered up while hosting the games. It's sickening but it also gives you another dimension into this tumultuous time. I highly recommend this wonderful resource and promise you will not be disappointed! *I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. All opinions are my own.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amy Morgan

    Thank you Edelweiss for my review copy of this book. This was an interesting tale of several special and talented women in the 1930's who went on to become the first women to compete in women's track and field in the Olympics. Full of fascinating facts about each of these women and their journey this is definitely worth a read even if you are not a sports fan which I am not. These women were trailblazers who fought hard to get and keep their chance to participate in the Olympics. Betty Robinson i Thank you Edelweiss for my review copy of this book. This was an interesting tale of several special and talented women in the 1930's who went on to become the first women to compete in women's track and field in the Olympics. Full of fascinating facts about each of these women and their journey this is definitely worth a read even if you are not a sports fan which I am not. These women were trailblazers who fought hard to get and keep their chance to participate in the Olympics. Betty Robinson is especially inspiring, making an astounding comeback after a plane crash that nearly took her life. After being told she may never even walk again she earned her way back on to the 1936 Olympic team. All of these women are awe inspiring and deserve to be remembered for both their talents and their ability to inspire women around the globe in a time of war and depression.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sinistmer

    This is a quick engaging read--Montillo excels at developing a narrative that is both detailed and action-oriented. She does a good job of contextualizing the climate, and the comments she pulls are illustrative of the discrimination and beliefs women athletes faced then--echoes of which are heard now.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    It's fascinating to me the way our world has evolved in it's views towards women. This book highlights the particular and real challenges of women athletes and Olympians in track and field. I particularly enjoyed learning about Betty Robinson's life, an American icon I now admire. There was some adult content 4/5 of the way into the novel which I felt detracted from the major themes of the book. I also felt the author wrote about the past with a paradigm of today's dilemmas. The book may have be It's fascinating to me the way our world has evolved in it's views towards women. This book highlights the particular and real challenges of women athletes and Olympians in track and field. I particularly enjoyed learning about Betty Robinson's life, an American icon I now admire. There was some adult content 4/5 of the way into the novel which I felt detracted from the major themes of the book. I also felt the author wrote about the past with a paradigm of today's dilemmas. The book may have been better suited as a biography, as equal time was not dedicated to each historical figure and felt off balance. Overall, this novel helped me appreciate my position as a woman, recognize the mistakes our country has made in the past, and admire the athletes that paved the way.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brian Gumm

    Historical narrative with a prosaic flourish, covering a group amazing and pioneering women athletes in the 1920s and 30s. Overcoming ridiculous gender norms of the day, the book’s constant eye on systems pressing down on women make this an inspirational tale on multiple levels.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    The writing and the book’s organization could have been more tightly honed, but what a fascinating snapshot of phenomenal women and time times they lived in.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    There's nothing really wrong with this book. I started to read it just before I moved but found it hard to get into, and then put it aside for a few weeks. I never found that I was terribly interested in getting back to it. The writing style didn't grab me, but that's probably my own deal.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Steve Shilstone

    Young women successfully pursue Olympic sprinting gold under the everyday realities of the sexism, misogyny, ignorance, and patriarchy of their times.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Robinson

    Really interesting. I love to hear stories about women who fought the standard and paved the way for my freedom to choose my own path in life.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I really enjoyed this book. It has a lot of running and a lot of history, both of which are interesting topics for me. If you wanted a book that was *only* about running, I don't know if you would like this quite as much because she does go into the historical accounts of that time period and the biographical lives of the runners and their families. There are a lot of different people to keep track of (no pun intended!), but it didn't bother me .There were a lot of section and paragraph breaks, I really enjoyed this book. It has a lot of running and a lot of history, both of which are interesting topics for me. If you wanted a book that was *only* about running, I don't know if you would like this quite as much because she does go into the historical accounts of that time period and the biographical lives of the runners and their families. There are a lot of different people to keep track of (no pun intended!), but it didn't bother me .There were a lot of section and paragraph breaks, so it felt easy to read, and the author did a great job getting us into the minds of the runners.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chatti

    3.5 stars I am all about the non-fiction and hope to read some interesting topics this year. First up is Fire on the Track: Betty Robinson and the Triumph of the Early Olympic Women. This book details the history of the early USA women track in the 20s and 30s at a time when women’ participation in the sport was controversial. It primarily focuses on Betsy Robinson, who was the first women ever to win a gold medal in an Olympic track event, but also introduces us to Stella Walsh, Babe Didrikson, 3.5 stars I am all about the non-fiction and hope to read some interesting topics this year. First up is Fire on the Track: Betty Robinson and the Triumph of the Early Olympic Women. This book details the history of the early USA women track in the 20s and 30s at a time when women’ participation in the sport was controversial. It primarily focuses on Betsy Robinson, who was the first women ever to win a gold medal in an Olympic track event, but also introduces us to Stella Walsh, Babe Didrikson, and many other players in the sport. I enjoyed learning about the history of American women’ contributions (and wins) in women’s track and field. These athletes faced massive discrimination due to the social-cultural environment during that time. They were judged on their looks- too fragile or not feminine enough. Normally, “Fire on the Track” wouldn’t be on my radar but I’m glad I made it through to the end. It’s a piece of history I am glad I took the time to learn. Unfortunately, this book was a slow burn for me. It went high then dipped low and back high again as the story ends with the American women’s gold in The 1936 Olympics (ahem Nazi Germany). The first few chapters, written more like a novel, had my attention. However, having been introduced to an overload of names and important figures, my excitement for the story dwindled in the middle. My brain could not hold onto this many players in a single book. The writing style worked for some parts but often times felt like a script from a moving documentary. Except it was missing the most important element-the visuals. To feel more connected to the story I even went online to look up vintage footage of the athletes. There’s something satisfying seeing Hitler muttering under his breathe when Germany lost to the USA. What also failed for me was the lack of dialogue. We are told what Betty Robinson, Stella Walsh, and Helen Stephens said in interviews but often times the “dialogue” were strictly quotes from newspaper articles or radio shows. It felt passive and stopped me from fully engaging. Thus, I needed to take numerous breaks from the book. I would pick this up if you want a true inspirational story but keep in mind that it might be one you’ll stop and return to numerous times. *Thank you Crown Publishing Group for the galley in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brice Fuqua

    It’s early 1928. Sixteen year-old, Betty Robinson is sprinting for a bus at the end of the school day. On the bus is the high school track coach, who is impressed with Robinson’s speed. He talks her into running time trials after school the next day, and is astounded when she comes close to breaking an indoor track record. Robinson agrees to join the track team as its only female member. Four months later, she qualifies for the Antwerp Olympics, and wins the 100 meter dash, becoming the first wo It’s early 1928. Sixteen year-old, Betty Robinson is sprinting for a bus at the end of the school day. On the bus is the high school track coach, who is impressed with Robinson’s speed. He talks her into running time trials after school the next day, and is astounded when she comes close to breaking an indoor track record. Robinson agrees to join the track team as its only female member. Four months later, she qualifies for the Antwerp Olympics, and wins the 100 meter dash, becoming the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in track. But Robinson’s life took a tragic turn a few years later, when she was almost killed in a plane crash. Upon wakening from a coma, her doctor told her she might never walk again. She not only learned to walk, but against all odds, qualified for the 1936 Olympic team. In Berlin, she won her second gold as part of the relay team. Robinson’s inspiring story was told, just three years ago in Joe Gergan’s book, The First Lady of Olympic Track. So it may seem odd that another Robinson biography is appearing so soon. But Roseanne Montillo’s Fire on the Track, paints a broader portrait, telling not just Robinson’s story, but those of her competitors, all of whom had to overcome indifference or outright hostility. There was Babe Didrikson, the foul-mouthed Texan, whose athletic skills were only matched by her ego. It was Didrikson’s abrasive personality and arrogance that, ultimately proved her undoing. Helen Stephens, the six-foot tomboy from a farm in Missouri, whose 100 meter gold in the 1936 games led to her being groped by Hitler. After the Polish team accused her of being a man in disguise, she was forced to strip in front of officials to prove her gender . Stephens kept her lesbianism a secret from all but her diary. Tidye Pickett, the first African-American woman to compete in an Olympics, but who was kept off the sprint relay team by her racist coach. The Polish-American, Stella Walsh, whose masculine appearance led to bullying as a kid. It was only upon her death in 1980 that she was discovered to be a hermaphrodite, leading some to call for her records to be erased. All of these pioneering track stars had to face opposition from authorities who believed it was unfeminine for women to run. Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, tried to ban all women athletes. Pope Pius XI and President Hoover’s wife condemned the idea of women competing in track events. But their victories led to a gradual acceptance and expansion of events for women in the Olympics. To compare Fire on the Track and The First Lady of Olympic Track, Gergan’s book is more focused on the athletic events, providing more details on the Olympics. His account is written in a slightly drier, more scholarly voice. He makes extensive use of quotes from interviews Robinson gave before her death in 1999. .Montillo’s account is more concerned with the personal lives of the athletes off the track and their struggles against sexism. Fire on the Track is written in a more lively, popular style. One quibble: Montillo tends to invent thoughts and insert them into the minds of the athletes. We are told exactly what Betty Robinson was thinking as she lined up for her first race. Something that it is impossible for us to really know. Both books are recommended for those interested in Olympic sports, early 20th Century American history, or those looking for an uplifting story.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jaina Rose

    This review is also available on my blog, Read Till Dawn. What a powerful and educational read this is. I mean, going into the book I knew absolutely nothing about the history of track in the Olympics, or how difficult it was for women to join in the games. I could have guessed that latter part, I suppose, but it had never really occurred to me before–I never really cared about sports enough to look into those first Olympian women. And they were an extraordinarily talented bunch, there's no denying This review is also available on my blog, Read Till Dawn. What a powerful and educational read this is. I mean, going into the book I knew absolutely nothing about the history of track in the Olympics, or how difficult it was for women to join in the games. I could have guessed that latter part, I suppose, but it had never really occurred to me before–I never really cared about sports enough to look into those first Olympian women. And they were an extraordinarily talented bunch, there's no denying it. The story of their struggle, not just for entry but also for respect, equal treatment, fair coverage, and familial support, is a powerful one. The book delves as intimately as it can into the lives of all the first greats: Betty Robinson (the first woman to win gold in track), Babe Didrikson (who almost singlehandedly won every track event one year!), and Stella Walsh, as well as snippets of the lives of the women they ran alongside and against. While the focus remains largely on Betty's tale at first, it moves on to the other runners during the period of her recovery from the accident and then comes back to her at the end. I think it's a great way of approaching the material. I also think it's amazing that Betty Robinson could be in such a horrific plane crash and then recover so well as to return to competing in the Olympics. Considering the fact that I am currently in an immobilizing boot because I sprained my ankle at a dance four months ago and it just won't heal, I can barely even comprehend that sort of incredible recovery. I'm still not very interested in sports, not even track, but I enjoyed learning the stories of these very unique women who led the way for females to compete in less "delicate" sports (basically anything other than gymnastics or swimming) in the Olympics. I was going to recommend the book to my younger sister, a former gymnast, because I thought she would also appreciate it, but changed my mind once I reached some more mature content in the latter part of the book (references to childhood sexual abuse, athletes confused about their sexuality/gender, and Hitler–literally Hitler–coming on to the lesbian gold-winner Helen Stephens at the Berlin Olympics). I appreciate the inclusion of these sorts of details, because they are also a part of these womens' stories, but their inclusion does make recommending the book to younger readers difficult. If you're an adult, however, and interested in the early Olympics or the rise of women in Olympic sports, then this is definitely the book for you. Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    Despite the very title of this book holding Betty Robinson’s name, there are several other prevalent female track athletes mentioned within. These names included: Polish-American Stella Walsh, Texan Babe Didrikson, the first African-American female to compete in the Olympics, Tidye Pickett, and young Helen Stephens. Without giving away too much, appearances of these women and the muscles they possessed caused extreme out roar in the media and public. Remember, this was a time that believed women Despite the very title of this book holding Betty Robinson’s name, there are several other prevalent female track athletes mentioned within. These names included: Polish-American Stella Walsh, Texan Babe Didrikson, the first African-American female to compete in the Olympics, Tidye Pickett, and young Helen Stephens. Without giving away too much, appearances of these women and the muscles they possessed caused extreme out roar in the media and public. Remember, this was a time that believed women ONLY belonged in the kitchen and definitely should not possess “manly muscles” gained from athletics. This story follows Betty from a 16-year-old, discovered for her speed after running down and catching a morning commuter train, to a 20-something Betty recovering from a plane crash and never expected to run again. Throughout, Betty’s resolve, resiliency and strength are on full display, and while she may not have fully understood her place in history at the time, it is clear to the reader how important those 1928 Olympics would become for female athletes in the United States. As a side note, it was interesting to see the different takes on the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. After having just finished The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which followed a MEN’s rowing team and their treatment/accommodations in Berlin, it was certainly eye opening when compared to the WOMEN’s track and field team’s treatment and accommodations. Even the comparisons within the books regarding swimmer Eleanor Holm and her removal from the Olympic team while aboard the USS Manhattan on the way to Berlin, differed when told from the women’s point of view. For the full review, please visit: https://fortheloveofthepageblog.wordp...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Arun Tankasali

    I received this Kindle e-book in exchange for an honest review. To start with, I am not a usual fan of Non-Fictions and I would rarely agree to pick one while I’m offered to say one or two a year. But fortunately, I found this to be a truly inspirational story and, it’s the one which I have stopped and returned to numerous times. The story of Olympic gold medallist and fastest woman in the world in 1928. Nevertheless, to say I was inspired by reading brief notes from few chapters of “Golden Girl I received this Kindle e-book in exchange for an honest review. To start with, I am not a usual fan of Non-Fictions and I would rarely agree to pick one while I’m offered to say one or two a year. But fortunately, I found this to be a truly inspirational story and, it’s the one which I have stopped and returned to numerous times. The story of Olympic gold medallist and fastest woman in the world in 1928. Nevertheless, to say I was inspired by reading brief notes from few chapters of “Golden Girl” which illustrates the story of PT Usha who is an athlete and called as “The queen of Indian track” and this led me to go further to read this book. Fire on the Track primarily showcases the story of Elizabeth Robinson and covers the spirit and determination of the women who competed at the Olympics in Amsterdam in 1928. It covers the history of the early women athletes at a time when women’s participation in the sport was controversial. So, Feminists, do you think today is tough? Consider women during the earlier years, imagine the obstacles they had to overcome. However, this book was a slow burn for me, initially. I was introduced to an overload of characters and important figures, and my mind could not hold onto this and hence I had to go online to look up vintage photos of these athletes to better remember them until I finish flipping the pages. The writing style of the author is not truly amazing, and some parts of the book felt like reading the script from a moving documentary. But the best part of the book is the author’s attempts to get inside the minds of these women and showcasing their determination to win. I would recommend every runners and athlete to read this book. It will be good motivation indeed!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julia Keizer

    Fire on the track by Roseanne Montillo is a biographical account of the first women track and field Olympians. It was an inspiring account starting with the story of Betty Robinson and how she was discovered. It told of the groundbreaking entrance of females into a male competition and what the females had to deal with. It gave intimate details of the life of these women and how they had to push themselves to become better and faster than there competition. It told of their many secrets they had Fire on the track by Roseanne Montillo is a biographical account of the first women track and field Olympians. It was an inspiring account starting with the story of Betty Robinson and how she was discovered. It told of the groundbreaking entrance of females into a male competition and what the females had to deal with. It gave intimate details of the life of these women and how they had to push themselves to become better and faster than there competition. It told of their many secrets they had to keep from family, friends, and the world. I found the chapter on the Olympics held in Germany just before the start of WW2 very interesting. This will be a great book for anyone looking for more information about female Olympians and track and field stars. Roseanne Montillo does an excellent job of capturing the strength, spirit, and dedication these early pioneers of female sports had in themselves. I have a greater understanding of how far Olympians push their bodies. No matter the consequences. Its all about the sport. I have recently started reading Non-Fictions and this is one that did not fail to impress. I enjoyed the extra tidbits of the daily life of the athletes, before and after there wins. It was a quick and easy read and I would recommend it to anyone who would like to learn a little more about life as an Olympian. There were some surprising details about a few of the females that I don't want to spoil for anyone wishing to read this book. *I would like to thank Blogging for Books and #NetGalley for providing me with a copy of Fire on the Track in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Dyson Eitelman

    That was some fierce listening. At times it was almost two much information--I wondered if she was making up the details. But Betty Robinson--or was that Helen Stephens?--kept a journal. I don't know about Stella Walsh; Babe Didrickson doesn't seem like the sort of person who would. Still, everyone involved were celebrities of some sort. I'm sure the author manufactured no more than she needed to, to make it all seem so very real that you were there, right there. Watching, waiting, worrying...som That was some fierce listening. At times it was almost two much information--I wondered if she was making up the details. But Betty Robinson--or was that Helen Stephens?--kept a journal. I don't know about Stella Walsh; Babe Didrickson doesn't seem like the sort of person who would. Still, everyone involved were celebrities of some sort. I'm sure the author manufactured no more than she needed to, to make it all seem so very real that you were there, right there. Watching, waiting, worrying...sometimes even running with the amazing women pioneers of the Olympic track and field. I can't think of a single criticism. It was long, but it was worth it. I wish she'd write a sequel covering the next two decades of women's athletics. On a personal note, it was mind-blowing to read this at the same time as the start of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Nobody was questioning whether women should be allowed to participate; no one was insisting that the athletes would no longer be suitable for marriage and motherhood; and no one was saying what's the point of women in sport since their best scores were no better than those of high-school boys. Things change--really they do. And sometimes for the better.

  23. 5 out of 5

    (a)lyss(a)

    "Physically, she could never be her old self, but she did not mind that, for mentally she did not feel like her old self, either." I received a copy of this book from bloggingforbooks.com in exchange for an honest review. This was around 3.5 stars for me. Despite reading as a fairly passive book the story picks up and it is an informative read. Following Betty Robinson and other runners like Helen Stephens this book talks about some of the first women runners in the Olympics and women who ran at t "Physically, she could never be her old self, but she did not mind that, for mentally she did not feel like her old self, either." I received a copy of this book from bloggingforbooks.com in exchange for an honest review. This was around 3.5 stars for me. Despite reading as a fairly passive book the story picks up and it is an informative read. Following Betty Robinson and other runners like Helen Stephens this book talks about some of the first women runners in the Olympics and women who ran at the Olympics in Germany. This book focuses mostly on Betty and Helen and how they trained (or didn't train at times) as well as their personal lives. There's not really any dialogue and the writing feels removed from the people instead of a journalistic approach. Also despite talking about the Olympic games in Germany there's not as much of an assessment of the historical context as I was expecting or hoping for. While the book also delves into the personal lives of the women and talks about their sexuality there's also little reflection or exploration dedicated to that in this book. I learned a few things and enjoyed the read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Roseanne Montillo has written a book near and dear to my family's heart--women in athletics, specifically running. Fire on the Track details the story of Betty Robinson breaking into the world of competitive running. Betty's races were sprints and she happened to get a high school coach who knew how to bring the best out of her. He looked for talent and then worked to bring the talent out to its best possible presentation. Roseanne doesn't just talk about Betty, but also Babe Didrickson, Helen F Roseanne Montillo has written a book near and dear to my family's heart--women in athletics, specifically running. Fire on the Track details the story of Betty Robinson breaking into the world of competitive running. Betty's races were sprints and she happened to get a high school coach who knew how to bring the best out of her. He looked for talent and then worked to bring the talent out to its best possible presentation. Roseanne doesn't just talk about Betty, but also Babe Didrickson, Helen Filkey, and other early notable women. Roseanne's style is a cross between biography and novel--something like Irving Stone's writings without the fictionalization that Irving adds to his novels. Roseanne captures the history and the conditions of the world at large as well the individual histories of the women themselves. She also delves into the development of track shoes and the improvements they brought to the sport; as well as the science behind head winds, tail winds, and physiology of the human body. This is a five star book, with two thumbs up, and a new pair of track cleats.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    Fire on the Track by Roseanne Montillo is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late January. Montillo offers bright, motivated, clear-thinking narration on female Olympic athletes (particularly Betty Robinson, Helen Stephens, Mildred 'Babe' Didrikson, and Stella Walsh), the 'regular' Olympic games (1928 Amsterdam, 1932 Los Angeles, and 1936 Germany), the women's Olympics (1921 Monaco and 1926 Gothenburg, Sweden), and all the experiences & happenings in between, like the too-soft running track of Fire on the Track by Roseanne Montillo is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late January. Montillo offers bright, motivated, clear-thinking narration on female Olympic athletes (particularly Betty Robinson, Helen Stephens, Mildred 'Babe' Didrikson, and Stella Walsh), the 'regular' Olympic games (1928 Amsterdam, 1932 Los Angeles, and 1936 Germany), the women's Olympics (1921 Monaco and 1926 Gothenburg, Sweden), and all the experiences & happenings in between, like the too-soft running track of Amsterdam leading to a significant amount of injuries, Olympians hearing about Brownshirt raids and concentration camps during forays away from the Games, the Los Angeles games being the first to feature an Olympic village (albeit exclusively for male athletes), Babe Didrikson cross-promotion leading her to be restricted from the U.S. team to Berlin, Stella Walsh's intergender anatomy, Betty Robinson being involved in a plane crash and injured just before the Berlin qualifiers in Providence (which subjects runners to 100-110 degree temperatures), Helen Stephens obtaining Hitler's autograph, and the U.S. women's relay team winning over the Germans due to a flubbed baton pass.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Martinez

    Betty Robinson and Helen Stephens are unknown to most sports fans, but they were trailblazers in women's track. Robinson was the first women to earn a gold medal in the Olympics when she won the 100 meter race in 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, the first Olympics women could compete in. I wanted to love this book, as Robinson was from Chicago, so I knew some of the landmarks as I was reading the book, but I found that it was very factual and not as much of a feel good story as I was hoping to get lo Betty Robinson and Helen Stephens are unknown to most sports fans, but they were trailblazers in women's track. Robinson was the first women to earn a gold medal in the Olympics when she won the 100 meter race in 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, the first Olympics women could compete in. I wanted to love this book, as Robinson was from Chicago, so I knew some of the landmarks as I was reading the book, but I found that it was very factual and not as much of a feel good story as I was hoping to get lost in and not put the book down! I did enjoy the book overall, and it did get pretty interesting reading about the Berlin Olympics under Hilter. I also enjoyed reading about the Olympians getting to the games, taking 12-15 days on the ships, and what they ate and how they stayed in shape, so different then today! If you are an Olympic nut, or just want to learn more about the women who took on the track in the late 1920's this book is for you!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jenny GB

    I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you! Fire on the Track tells the story of three Olympics and the women that competed in them. It begins with the first Olympic games where women were allowed to run track and ends with the Nazi games before the start of WWII. There are many athletes to track in this book and I hadn't heard of any of them. It was fascinating to read about the women in the context of their time. It was clear that these women were breaking stereo I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you! Fire on the Track tells the story of three Olympics and the women that competed in them. It begins with the first Olympic games where women were allowed to run track and ends with the Nazi games before the start of WWII. There are many athletes to track in this book and I hadn't heard of any of them. It was fascinating to read about the women in the context of their time. It was clear that these women were breaking stereotypes, but sometimes also confirmed them. I found the asides to other historical facts scattered throughout the book to be interesting, but distracting. The best parts of the book are where the author attempts to get inside the minds of these women and show their determination to win. I think runners and athletes will really enjoy this book!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Holiday

    I enjoyed this book, but it left me wanting more! It was such an interesting topic, but I wish that the author would have gone even more in depth. For example, I didn't get a sense of exactly how Betty Robinson rebounded after her plane crash. It was as if she went from losing races to qualifying for the Berlin Olympics. I also would have liked more information about what happened to the women after the 1936 Olympics, in their lives, and how their actions affected later women athletes. There wer I enjoyed this book, but it left me wanting more! It was such an interesting topic, but I wish that the author would have gone even more in depth. For example, I didn't get a sense of exactly how Betty Robinson rebounded after her plane crash. It was as if she went from losing races to qualifying for the Berlin Olympics. I also would have liked more information about what happened to the women after the 1936 Olympics, in their lives, and how their actions affected later women athletes. There were a few parts I would have edited out -- I didn't really want to know about one young woman's unwanted sexual encounters, for example, as it had absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand. I wanted to know more about women in sports! This book led me to do some research on my own, but I would recommend it as a very interesting thought-provoking topic.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amy Ingalls

    I won this book in a giveaway. This book highlights the determination and talent of the first women Track & Field olympians. It also shows the struggles and discrimination faced by these women (racism, sexism, homophobia or being deemed "too manly" to name a few). That was the part of the story I enjoyed. However, I found myself getting bogged down while reading this, and the book seemed longer than it actually was. There were things I wanted to know more about (like Betty's recovery and what it I won this book in a giveaway. This book highlights the determination and talent of the first women Track & Field olympians. It also shows the struggles and discrimination faced by these women (racism, sexism, homophobia or being deemed "too manly" to name a few). That was the part of the story I enjoyed. However, I found myself getting bogged down while reading this, and the book seemed longer than it actually was. There were things I wanted to know more about (like Betty's recovery and what it entailed) and many things that were choppy or mentioned only briefly. I also wish the book had pictures-- the author cited numerous newspaper articles and described the photos that were printed. She also focused quite a bit on the appearance of the athletes (Betty was beautiful, Stella coarse, etc.), and photos would have added a lot to the reading experience.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Paul Doyle

    Fire on the Track: Betty Robinson and the Triumph of the Early Olympic Women was a somewhat interesting book about the Betty Robinson overcoming the hurdles of being a Women runner. Overall this book is not good enough to mention I probably would not recommend this book to many people if any. This book is for ages 9 and up only because it is somewhat of a difficult read, otherwise, in my opinion, there is nothing in this book that would be too much of a sensitive problem for it to be a problemat Fire on the Track: Betty Robinson and the Triumph of the Early Olympic Women was a somewhat interesting book about the Betty Robinson overcoming the hurdles of being a Women runner. Overall this book is not good enough to mention I probably would not recommend this book to many people if any. This book is for ages 9 and up only because it is somewhat of a difficult read, otherwise, in my opinion, there is nothing in this book that would be too much of a sensitive problem for it to be a problematic read. This book is not a story important enough to write a long summary of because I don't have a strong liking of this book nor do I think it is an important read that I would recommend to people.

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