Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Carry the Rock: Race, Football, and the Soul of an American City Hardcover – September 14, 2010
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
"Jennings seems to epitomize the journalistic ideal that stories aren't meant to tell people what to think, they're meant to tell people what to think about." --Sync Weekly
"Unsentimental yet inspiring..."
--Joe Queenan, author of True Believers: The Tragic Inner Life of Sports Fans and Closing Time: A Memoir
"When a native son juxtaposes passion for football and the tumultuous history of race relations in Little Rock, the result is a must-read page turner. " --Minnijean Brown Trickey, Little Rock Nine member
More About the Author
He began his writing career as a reporter at Sports Illustrated, followed by four years as the features editor at Tennis magazine. His work has been recognized by The Best American Sports Writing annual and has appeared in the humor anthology Mirth of a Nation: The Best Contemporary Humor. He is a two-time MacDowell Colony fellow in fiction and was awarded a grant in 2008 from the Arkansas Arts Council for a novel-in-progress.
Carry the Rock: Race, Football and the Soul of an American City was named a 2010 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. Most recently, he edited a collection called Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany.
Top Customer Reviews
Scheduled for release as America settles in for a new football season, Jay Jennings success in providing a unique perspective on a a basic story that's been told before. The team he chose for this book -the Tigers of Little Rock Central High School-- represent the legacy of the challenging history of racial integration in the United States.
Nominally the story of a season of high school football, Jennings weaves other threads throughout the book. Among these are the history of Little Rock itself, the challenges of integrating the schools there in the 1950s (and an unflinching look at the realities of this 50 years later), and modern issues that continued to shape the city (and the school)...especially how the paths of Interstate highways can mold the urban areas they pass through, for better or worse.
The football narrative is centered on the coaching staff, with the spotlight shining firmly on coach Bernie Cox as he steers the Tigers through 2007 season, his 35th with the team. The demands of time and myriad challenges facing the coaches (facilities, parents, academics, the foibles of teenagers, how to get 50 kids moving in the same direction for an away game...let alone getting them moving on the field in the same direction) are excellently laid out by Jennings.
Football fans looking for detailed descriptions of Xs and Os won't find them there.Read more ›
The fact that Jennings can make school board politics and districts interesting attests to his skills as a writer. Most compelling, though, is his portrait of the coach, Bernie Cox. The coach is strict yet loving, and seemingly the perfect leader for Central High. Like the author, Cox possesses a modest dignity and understated wisdom. Cox doesn't so much "jump off the page" as seep through -- as does the team's heartbreaking season.
This book is the "Friday Night Lights" for a smarter reader: not as sensational, and there won't be a TV show, but Jenning's book is just as powerful. Anyone interested in sports, race, or the education of our kids will love this book.
This may not sound like a story of national interest, but Little Rock is a city that deserves attention for a lot more than Bill Clinton and the HBO gangland expose, "Bangin' in Little Rock." Little Rock is a touchstone city for the history of the American civil rights movement, for both good and ill. Jennings retells one of the most shocking tales of lynching in American history, an event that leaves lasting scars on the city and the South. But Jennings balances it with the proud history of Little Rock, both in terms of American political life (Bill Clinton is not the only famous Arkansan in American politics) and its cultural impact. It would shock many proud Northeastern elites to learn that Central High in Little Rock was for years considered to be among the top public high schools in the entire country. And this city was also the site of the infamous Little Rock Nine - nine African American teenagers who dared to break the color barrier and gain admission to the prestigious, segregated school in 1957.
Fifty years later, the legendary Central High football team is also trying to defend its state championship title. Unfortunately, despite the presence of a legendary coach on the sidelines and some really terrific kids, they just don't have the horses to justify their preseason ranking as #1 in the state. Jennings writes with compassion and clarity as he follows the Tigers through their season of triumphs and failures.Read more ›
The divide that matters most to Central High School's coach Bernie Cox is the divide between winners and losers. His 2007 football team is three years out from their last state championship and do not seem to have the drive and devotion to regain the title. Coach Cox tries to instill pride and structure in his team, but they are pulled in many directions....academics, family, social demands, teenage life...that seem to thwart his approach. Add to the mix the 50 year anniversary of the Little Rock Nine and the surrounding hubbub and you get Carry The Rock.
Author Jay Jennings follows the Central High School Tigers from summer practices through a frustrating season and season's end. Coach Cox is a powerful presence but his players are not fleshed out and remain one dimensional. The interwoven storyline of the struggle to integrate is actually the more engrossing. The real disappointment is how little the two seem to mesh...they intersect but there are few if any eyewitnesses to balance out the present with the past. Without those voices this book is good, but not great.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I tried several times to get into this book, but the mixture of high school football, desegregation, local history, and boring writing style had me closing it and going on to more... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is a wonderful story of a Southern town centered around its flagship public school, Central High. Read morePublished on May 11, 2013 by DDSC
I received this book as a Christmas present and read it a short time afterward. This historical narrative looks at the 50th anniversary of the Little Rock Central High... Read morePublished on January 4, 2013 by Steven M. Anthony
This book provided a view into the city of Little Rock only seen by an Arkansan. This book benefited me greatly and was an easy read.Published on August 12, 2011 by Jacksonville AFB
A detailed account of a football team's journey through the historic 2007 season, exactly 50 years after the Little Rock 9. Read morePublished on April 27, 2011 by Dr. Cathy Goodwin
This book studies the parallels between high school football in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the progress of race relations. Read morePublished on April 27, 2011 by Lee S. Mairs
An excellent book about Arkansas, race and football written by a local author coming back to the state. Read morePublished on January 3, 2011 by JG
This book was advertised as the Little Rock version of "Friday Night Lights," with a "progress on civil rights in Little Rock in the interval since 1957" narrative incorporated. Read morePublished on December 26, 2010 by Melanchthon
I was interested in this topic, but just could not get engaged by the author. There are story tellers and there are word writers who can get the story written down without telling... Read morePublished on October 25, 2010 by brazos49