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Glory Road: My Story of the 1966 NCAA Basketball Championship and How One Team Triumphed Against the Odds and Changed America Forever Paperback – November 30, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sportswriter Wetzel confronted an odd kind of problem when coauthoring the autobiography of Don Haskins, Texas college basketball icon and inadvertent civil rights pioneer. Instead of embellishing his story or telling the account of how, as a coach, he single-handedly changed college basketball in 1966 by winning the NCAA championship with five black starters, the comically humble Haskins "pretends it didn't matter, or, most often, that it didn't even happen in the first place." Such is the charm of Haskins, who became a living legend by coaching at Texas Miners College (now University of Texas–El Paso) from 1961 to 1999, but never let the fame get to him (although Haskins is not a saint: he's a vicious pool hustler and a terrorizing coach who wouldn't even let his players have water during practice). Although the book is ostensibly about the 1966 game against the all-white powerhouse University of Kentucky, Haskins's laconic retelling almost renders it anticlimactic. Still, Haskins can't mask the drama of the aftermath: within months of his team's victory, "the floodgates opened" and college teams everywhere started fielding black players. Cross-promotion with the January 13 release of the Disney film Glory Road. (Dec.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Don Haskins was 34 years old when he coached the Texas Western Miners to the NCAA basketball championship in a game that most sports historians agree fundamentally altered college athletics. Haskins' starters and top-two reserves were black--the first time in history that had happened. The Miners defeated all-white Kentucky and its legendarily racist coach, Adolph Rupp, in the finals. In this mesmerizing autobiography, Haskins rejects such labels as trailblazer or social pioneer. He says instead he was simply an obsessed coach who recruited the best players he could get--despite unofficial quotas on black players--and drove them mercilessly. He also says that his university--now known as the University of Texas at El Paso--had integrated its basketball team almost a decade earlier, and the ethnic diversity of the town mitigated most of the racial tension one might have expected in another setting. That's not to say that he and his players didn't undergo plenty of trials. The author's modesty aside, what makes this book such compelling reading is that Haskins is a one-of-a-kind character--a man who chose never to leave his relatively obscure post, preferring smoky small-town Texas cantinas to, well, just about anyplace. There will be a major film this winter based on Texas Western's 1966 season, so expect significant demand for Haskins' book. But no matter the quality of the movie, this is one of the best sports autobiographies in many years. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books (November 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401307914
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401307912
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Robert Daniels on February 11, 2006
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After seeing the movie I had the impression that El Paso and Texas Western were as bigoted as, say, Selma, Alabama until Mr. Haskins came along. Among the many wonderful behind the scenes things you learn in this book, El Paso and Texas Western were in fact way ahead of the integration curve - desegregating their school clear back in the 1950s.

Don Haskins grew up in rural Oklahoma and his best childhood friend and fellow basketball fanatic was black - really unusual for the times - and a tip off to the totally color blind nature of the warm and wonderful Haskins.

And while the movie shows Haskins coming to El Paso and finding an all white team - in fact there were black players on the team and had been for years.

Haskins special ingredient was his complete dedication to victory, regardless of the race of the players. As a result his landmark accomplishment of fielding an all black starting lineup was (as he freely admits) a side effect of all that ever should matter - having the best people possible - on the court or in life - in place to do the job.

If you have only seen the movie, be sure to also read the book. The script liberties the movie producers took did a wonderful job of raising goosebumps in the theatre. But the correctness of the story as told in the book is a much richer experience.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Sunny Day on November 28, 2005
This is more than a sports book. It is the story of a true eccentric, Coach Don Haskins. It is a can't-put-it-down book of how basketball was before college sports became to be all about money, fame and media analysts. The book is full of colorful descriptions and laugh-out-loud anecdotes. Rather than simply being a book about basketball statistics, it is a well-told story of success and triumphs that reveals the true characters of those involved in this color-blind basketball team. I highly recommend it for both the sports fan and the non-sports fan alike.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Shawn M. Warswick on January 14, 2006
In 1966 a little known team from far West Texas changed the sport of Basketball forever. This book is the story of the coach of that team, a coach who would go on to win more than 700 games and become a member of the Basketball hall of fame: Don Haskins.

Having lived in El Paso for a majority of my life, and having been a fan of the Miners since the early 80's, I can say this book is one of the best I've ever read. The living legend tells the story of his life, from his days playing college ball at Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma St.) for the master, Henry Iba, to his days coaching high school boys and girls, all the way to the hall of fame. Of course, you get the story of the '66 team as well as the fall out and how it affected Texas Western College (which became the University of Texas-El Paso the next year) along with some great stories about Don's pool shark days and a wonderful introduction to the book by the one and only Bob Knight.

If you only purchase one book this year, this book should be it. Finally the world will know what those of us in El Paso have known for years; Don Haskins wasn't only a great coach (possibly the best coach ever) he is a great human being.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steve M on December 20, 2005
Couldn't put this book down. Without knowing it, Coach Haskins and his Texas Western basketball team (UTEP) changed college basketball for the better by being the first to start five black players for the National Championship. I especially loved the connection Coach Haskins has to the community of El Paso, Texas.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lindsie Marie on December 24, 2005
I am from El Paso and an avid UTEP Miner fan. I'm not old enough to have been around in 1966, but I hear about it all the time. The book really was great and brought back memories for my parents. Great Job!! I really recommend this book for everyone, not just basketball fans!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Trigger on June 9, 2007
Your current published reviews are enthusiastic but in some cases contain factual inaccuracies. The movie and the book are related in title and subject (Don Haskins); but that is about as far as it goes. The movie which focuses on 1966 is moving and concludes with a happy and factual ending - that is, that Texas Western won that game in 1966 --- but the movie not always true to the facts. Understandably I suppose when you try to compress a life story, even if only one year of a life, into a 2 hour or so movie. The book, from someone who played for Coach, reviewed and commented on the galley proof, and has represented Coach Haskins and the '66 team as a lawyer and a friend for 35 plus years, is "spot-on" and should be read by everyone who has ever had an interest in basketball.

As to the fortunes of 1966 team and the gentlemen representing that team so well, then and now, suffice it to say that the past 3 or 4 years have indeed been a trip down Glory Road: The team was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA this past April, only the 6th team to ever be so honored - and the first collegiate team --- with the enshrinement proceedings to be held on September 7 and 8, 2007 at the HOF facility. The team has also been honored with dinner and a movie at the White House with President and Mrs. Bush; the team will be inducted in the Boys Clubs of New York Hall of Fame in October of 2007, and some of the members volunteered to take an Armed Services Entertainment Tour to Germany, the Netherlands and England in February of 2007 to entertain our country's troops and their families.
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