Undefeated|Steve Sheinkin
Undefeated : Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team
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A great American sport and Native American history come together in this true story for middle grade readers about how Jim Thorpe and Pop Warner created the legendary Carlisle Indians football team, from New York Times bestselling author and Newbery Award recipient Steve Sheinkin.

"Sheinkin has made a career of finding extraordinary stories in American history." --The New York Times Book Review

A Boston Globe-Horn Book Nonfiction Honor Book
A New York Times Notable Children's Book
A Washington Post Best Book

Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team is an astonishing underdog sports story--and more. It's an unflinching look at the U.S. government's violent persecution of Native Americans and the school that was designed to erase Indian cultures. Expertly told by three-time National Book Award finalist Steve Sheinkin, it's the story of a group of young men who came together at that school, the overwhelming obstacles they faced both on and off the field, and their absolute refusal to accept defeat.

Jim Thorpe: Super athlete, Olympic gold medalist, Native American
Pop Warner: Indomitable coach, football mastermind, Ivy League grad

Before these men became legends, they met in 1907 at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, where they forged one of the winningest teams in American football history. Called the team that invented football, they took on the best opponents of their day, defeating much more privileged schools such as Harvard and the Army in a series of breathtakingly close calls, genius plays, and bone-crushing hard work.

This thoroughly-researched and documented book can be worked into multiple aspects of the common core curriculum.

"Along with Thorpe's fascinating personal story, Sheinkin offers a thought-provoking narrative about the evolution of football and the development of boarding schools such as the Carlisle Indian School." --The Washington Post

Also by Steve Sheinkin:

Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon
The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
Which Way to the Wild West?: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About Westward Expansion
King George: What Was His Problem?: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About the American Revolution
Two Miserable Presidents: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About the Civil War
Born to Fly: The First Women's Air Race Across America


  • ISBN-13: 9781596439542
  • ISBN-10: 1596439548
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publish Date: January 2017
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Page Count: 288
  • Reading Level: Ages 11-14

The first great football team

Three-time National Book Award finalist Steve Sheinkin’s Undefeated charts the rise of Jim Thorpe, Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon and All-American fullback for the Carlisle Indians, one of the most innovative football teams ever to take the field. Despite its focus, readers need not be sports fans to enjoy this book.

As a Native American man born in 1888, racism was a constant in Thorpe’s life, but it’s because of this daily prejudice that Thorpe first set foot on a football field. At the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, a boarding school that was created to “kill the Indian, and save the man,” Thorpe encountered the game that he and his Carlisle teammates would come to redefine.

In those days, football was a hybrid of rugby and bare-knuckle boxing. Guided by Coach Pop Warner—inventor of the reverse, the single wing and a multitude of other plays and formations—Carlisle did more than any team to move football away from its brutal origins. Warner ran a “whirlwind offense” that pitted the Carlisle players’ speed and agility against the bone-crushing brawn of America’s sporting elites: Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale.

Along with redefining how the game was played, Carlisle’s emergence as a football powerhouse forced the nation to face what was then an uncomfortable and controversial truth: Given a level playing field, Native Americans could compete with anyone—America’s most privileged sons included.


ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read a Q&A with Steve Sheinkin about Undefeated.

This article was originally published in the February 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.