Jim Thorpe Biographer to Speak Saturday

Although several books written have been written about Jim Thorpe in recent years, little new information has been uncovered about him. The reason for that is that Robert W. Wheeler plowed so deeply when he researched everyone’s All American that little ground remained untouched. Bob spent seven years researching what began as an oral history of the great athlete for his master’s thesis. Most of the people he interviewed who knew or interacted with Thorpe are no longer alive and, thus, not available for other’s to interview. Bob has graciously allowed others to use his interview tapes. Some artifacts, such as scrapbooks, that Wheeler was able to study are now out of the Thorpe family’s hands and, in some cases, held by private collectors who do not make them available to researchers.

So, Big Jim’s recent biographers have stood on Wheeler’s shoulders in more than one way. Put another, perhaps better, way by Freddie Wardecker, there has been little point to anyone else writing a Thorpe biography since Wheeler’s. Dick Schaap put it succinctly when he said, “Robert W. Wheeler is Jim Thorpe’s Boswell.”

Recent Thorpe biographers have been invited to speak in Carlisle, but not Bob Wheeler—until now. He will be speaking at the inaugural Celebrate the Book festival at the Expo Center on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. And I have been given the honor to introduce him. Of course, I was far from the first choice, but due to other people having schedule conflicts and that I was going to be at the festival anyway, I get to do this. I may be doing this because the better choices were busy but that’s OK with me. Bob Wheeler’s odyssey across the country and his experiences along the way could make a separate book. If you’re within a couple of hours of Carlisle, it’s an easy drive. His is a talk not to be missed.

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