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Seventh annual Easley Lecture features Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss

Murray State University's Department of History is hosting Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss on Thursday for the seventh annual Sid Easley Lecture.

Maraniss’s lecture, titled “Path Lit By Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe – Using the Drama of Sports to Illuminate Social History,” is based on the author’s latest biography. The book explores the life of Thorpe, a Native American athlete who won the 1912 Olympic pentathlon and decathlon, played professional baseball and football and was voted as the Associated Press’ Athlete of the Half Century in 1950.

Thorpe’s athletic achievements were also part of the reason Maraniss said he wanted to profile the historic American sports figure.

“He was the greatest athlete of the first half of the 20th century, at least. He did things that no one else has ever done. In terms of winning gold medals at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm for the pentathlon and Decathlon, the first great football player in the National Football League, and all American football player in college, and a major league baseball player, that trifecta has never been repeated,” Maraniss said.

“But actually, that's not why I wrote this story. I wrote this book because I wanted to use the drama of his athletic life to explore and illuminate the Native American experience through his life, from 1887 when he was born to 1952 when he died, and use that life [and] look at what happened to Native Americans during that period.”

MSU’s Department of History’s lecture series is named in honor of longtime department supporter and former MSU Board of Regents chair Sid Easley.

The event is free and open to the public. There will also be a book signing and dessert reception following Maraniss’s lecture.

Hannah Saad is the Assistant News Director for WKMS. Originally from Michigan, Hannah earned her bachelor’s degree in news media from The University of Alabama in 2021. Hannah moved to western Kentucky in the summer of 2021 to start the next chapter of her life after graduation. Prior to joining WKMS in March 2023, Hannah was a news reporter at The Paducah Sun. Her goal at WKMS is to share the stories of the region from those who call it home. Outside of work, Hannah enjoys exploring local restaurants, sports photography, painting, and spending time with her fiancé and two dogs.
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