*Starred Review* "Remember that it was the fathers and grandfathers of these Army players who fought your fathers and grandfathers in the Indian Wars. Remember Wounded Knee." Now that is a pregame pep talk. It was delivered by legendary coach Pop Warner to the Carlisle Indian School football team minutes before the squad took the field against Army in 1912. Carlisle was led by Jim Thorpe, still basking in his gold-medal performance in the 1912 Olympics; Army's emerging star was a gritty, three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust halfback named Dwight Eisenhower. Sports Illustrated writer Anderson reprises the landmark game in gripping, play-by-play fashion, but it is really the backstory that gives this thoroughly engaging book its bite: how Warner, college football's first superstar coach, found himself at an unheralded Indian school, and how he came to nurture Thorpe into becoming the greatest athlete of the first half of the twentieth century; how Thorpe struggled with family tragedy and the identity-crushing regimen common to the Indian schools of the era; and how a tough, street-fighting kid from the wrong side of the tracks in Abilene, Texas, landed on the gridiron at West Point, where his determination to knock Thorpe out of the game with a bone-crushing hit almost derailed the future president's military career. Anderson allows himself to get inside the heads of his characters, but as in the best sports-centered narrative nonfiction (Hillebrand's Seabiscuit and Frost's Greatest Game Ever Played, for example), the technique is based on solid research. A great sports story, told with propulsive narrative drive and offering a fascinating look at multiple layers of American popular culture. Ott, Bill
About the Author
Lars Anderson is a Sports Illustrated
staff writer and a graduate of Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of The All Americans
. He lives with his wife in Birmingham, Alabama.