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Backyard Brawl: Inside the Blood Feud Between Texas and Texas A & M Hardcover – September 3, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1st edition (September 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609610538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609610534
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #409,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This chronicle of the 2001 football season's battle between the University of Texas Longhorns and the Texas A&M Aggies is a capsule history of America's biggest, baddest state and its obsession with America's biggest, baddest sport. Each year, the schools' football teams look forward to their annual showdown, which always takes place on Thanksgiving weekend. As Stratton makes clear, UT is on top of the Texas hierarchy: the Longhorns, benefiting from the largess of one of the most economically and politically powerful constituencies in the country, are symbolic of privileged, liberal entitlement, while 90 miles up the highway, the A&M Aggies are proud of their past as a former military school and look to tradition and hard work as their guides through life. With neither team boasting a spectacular 2001 record and the September 11 attacks overshadowing the season, Stratton's attention periodically wanders up into the stands, where he uncovers telling anecdotes that explain how each school got its reputation. He also has a lot of fun traveling across the state week to week, from tailgate parties in Austin to midnight "yells" at A&M, and from the Texas State Fair in Dallas to the excitement of all those ball games. Like B.H. Bissinger's seminal look at Texas high school football, Friday Night Lights, Stratton's volume is a must read for any serious fan of Texas football. For everyone else, it's entertaining and engaging look at the minutiae of football-mad America.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Many college football teams have intense, and much-examined, rivalries. The rivalry between the University of Texas and Texas A&M University is no exception, but Stratton offers a new perspective. These two great football programs have been intense rivals since they took up the game in the 1890s, with Texas seen as the effete, liberal school by A&M adherents and A&M as conservative farmers by Texas supporters. The author, who writes for the Dallas Morning News, traveled between the two schools to get a sense of the atmosphere before the big game now played on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This book is not a history of the contests but a look at what makes the rivalry so intense, mixed with large doses of the history of this "feud," which turns this annual game into an almost religious experience for fans. While someone not from Texas might not find this interesting, there is enough history, pomp, and pageantry to keep football fans interested. Recommended for school and public libraries where there is interest in college football.
William O. Scheeren, Hempfield Area H.S., Greenburg, PA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

William Kip Stratton - friends call him by his middle name - was born in Guthrie, Oklahoma, a descendant on his mother's side from settlers who participated in the Great Land Run of 1889. The Guthrie in which he grew up was a racially polarized agricultural and oilfield community with more than its share of poverty and strife. He attended the Guthrie Public Schools during a time of great upheaval; he was active in student government and often found himself embroiled in issues reflective of the discord affecting the town and the nation at the time. He also played in rock bands, began writing in earnest, and developed a lifelong interest in films. He began submitting articles to the Guthrie daily newspaper while still a high school student.

He put himself through what's now known as the University of Central Oklahoma while working as a newspaper reporter, taking a degree in English with honors. He later received a Master's degree in English from the same school, submitting a novel for his thesis. While in college, he studied fiction writing under the popular novelist Marilyn Harris (Springer) and had the opportunity to participate in seminars and workshops by the likes of James Dickey, William Stafford, Donald Hall, and N. Scott Momaday.

As a young man, he was active in Democratic Party politics, and while in graduate school, he worked as the Reading Clerk and as a press aide for the Oklahoma State Senate. He also managed a district attorney campaign around this time. (Later, he managed a short-lived gubernatorial campaign.) He worked for the Oklahoma State Election Board for three years - the election board was affiliated with the Senate - before resigning and moving to a farm to write a novel.

That novel was unsuccessful and never published. He returned to journalism and eventually worked on the Tulsa World. He also began writing for magazines on the side. His first published magazine article appeared in Sports Illustrated. He also contributed to the Texas Observer, Outside, Americana, and Southern Magazine during this time. He contributed numerous pieces to Oklahoma Today magazine, several of them long-form, and eventually became one of the magazine's Contributing Editors. (He later published essays in D the Magazine of Dallas, GQ, and Mayborn.)

In the late 1980s, he relocated to Central Texas, where he has resided since. For a number of years, he has worked in high tech as his day job. His first book, Backyard Brawl, appeared in 2002. Chasing the Rodeo followed in 2005, as did a book he edited with his longtime friend Jan Reid, Splendor in the Short Grass. That year he was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters. In middle age, Stratton became deeply involved in training as a boxer. This brought him into contact with prizefighters, promoters, and managers. One person he befriended was two-time female boxing champion Anissa Zamarron. In 2009, he published his book about her rise from a troubled adolescence to prominence in women's boxing, Boxing Shadows. In 2011, his book of poetry, Dreaming Sam Peckinpah, was published to acclaim. That same year, he was a speaker at the prestigious Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. Floyd Patterson: The Fighting Life of Boxing's Invisible Champion was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2012. Also in 2012, Stratton was elected President of the Texas Institute of Letters.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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It's just that I tend towards fiction most of the time.
"jennykay"
It's about all the things that make Texas v. A&M one of the best rivalries in college athletics.
Alberto Garcia
Must read for Longhorns, Aggies, and any fan of football and good writing.
"lowergreenville"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Andrew S. Rogers VINE VOICE on October 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
W.K. Stratton undermines his argument a little bit -- or perhaps just reinforces the paradoxical nature of the "blood feud" between the University of Texas and Texas A&M -- by noting that these days, the hick-versus-city slicker stereotypes no longer really apply. Both schools recruit the same kinds of high school students, graduates of both are, in turn, headhunted by the same companies, and relatively few Aggies even have any contact with "agriculture" any more.

But despite that demographic fact, the truth remains that U.T. versus A&M is a Big Thing in the Lone Star State. As a Texan with family connections to both schools (I attended a neutral university in San Antonio myself) as well as to Stratton's native Oklahoma, I really enjoyed his exploration of this feud that transcends mere football and has become a true Texas culture war.

I came away from this title with a sense that Stratton focused more on the distinctives on Texas A&M and its unique culture than he did on the U of Texas. Aggies would have an obvious explanation for this, and maybe it's just a false impression on my part, but his descriptions of A&M -- often funny, frequently insightful, and occasionally moving -- were very memorable. And while the author injects himself into the story fairly regularly, it's not a distraction.

On the whole, this book would be a fun read, I'd imagine, for any fan of college football and its classic rivalries. For a Texan, however, I think it becomes something even more than that. Texans who are neither Horns nor Ags will recognize quite a bit of their beloved homeland here. And partisans of these two schools will find their allegiances strengthened and pride reinforced, even while the other side becomes, maybe, a bit more human, a bit less caricature. And everyone will have a good time. I don't think you can ask a lot more from a book than that.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Daniel on October 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
If you have ever been involved in the on-going rivalry between Texas A&M and the University of Texas, than this is a great book to read. Backyard Brawl written by W.K. Stratton is about the rivalry starting at its roots. Most peoples view of the rivalry is skewed because of the biased views people have depending on their school of choice, but this book is an unbiased view of the great rivalry. Even though the rivalry is based on a football game held every year, the traditions go far beyond the football field. The game between A&M and UT has become one of the biggest if not the biggest rivalries in the nation. Both schools have many traditions leading up to the big game every Thanksgiving weekend that have been intact since the first couple of years. Backyard Brawl is a great book to read if you have any affiliation with either school.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "lowergreenville" on October 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
My disclaimer - I graduated from Texas some 10 years ago.
Does't really matter because this book is fair to both sides and I learned something about the history of this storied rivalry.
I was also surprised at how fun this book turned out even with the cloud of 9/11 and lingering effects of the tragic A&M Bonfire accident. Stratton acknowledges both respectfully, but keeps things moving. Make no mistake, Texas and A&M football are center stage here, but the culture and image both carry almost upstage them.
Stratton, an admitted transplanted "Okie", takes you through a season the tumult each team sees (at different times) and leaves the reader on the other side having experienced and learned what this whole damn thing is all about.
Must read for Longhorns, Aggies, and any fan of football and good writing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Shannon Deason on April 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is a fun read, I believe anyone would enjoy this book, whether they attended UT or A&M. I admit I am biased, I attended UT, but I enjoyed the stuff about the Aggies, much of it I did not know, I agree with the other Amazon reviewer that the author seems to focus a bit more on A&M, but I really didn't mind, as a visitor to Kyle Field, I certainly acknowledge the Aggies spirit, pride, and traditions all of which are, sad for this Longhorn to admit, superior to ours. It's funny that in Texas everyone is either a Longhorn or an Aggie supporter, it really makes no difference if they have attended either university or even set foot on their individual campuses,it seems everyone has a horse in this race. Highly recommend..Hook 'em.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alberto Garcia on November 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A tremendous look into not just a football rivalry, but the two clashing cultures of Texas and A&M. This book is about much more than simply a football game. It's about rural v. urban. It's about conservative v. liberal. It's about all the things that make Texas v. A&M one of the best rivalries in college athletics.
As a native of Austin, I understand the fervor created by the annual game between the Horns and the Ags. This book does a remarkable job of capturing that spirit. You don't have to be from Texas to enjoy this book. The real-life characters which encompass the Texas/A&M rivalry are on full display and make for a great read.
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