Red Grange was one of the certified heroes of an era that produced the anchors to any sporting hall of fame--Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Bill Tilden, Bobby Jones--but Red Grange and the Rise of Modern Football
is no simple exercise in hero-worship. A professor of history at Lamar University, John M. Carroll
works to put Grange in perspective against the backdrop of an amazing era--the '20s--and tackle the Galloping Ghost's myth. Still, in Grange's case, the myth remains awfully impressive.
A true superstar, Grange was a reluctant idol, letting his actions speak for him. In an era before big athletic scholarships, Grange paid for his education by delivering ice in the summer, a job that made him stronger than most of the defense men he'd regularly bowl over. As a junior at Illinois, Grange secured his legend with an inconceivable performance against Michigan, running for four touchdowns in the first 12 minutes. Before the final gun sounded--Carroll recounts this, and other games in glorious detail--Grange had added a fifth score on the ground, passed for a sixth, racked up a ridiculous 402 rushing yards on the day, and cemented his reputation. Post college, his all-American drawing power and singular brilliance on the field virtually saved the struggling young NFL; Carroll is quite thorough in his examination of the fledgling league and its odor of "a dirty little business run by rogues." Yet, despite all the fame and celebrity, a flirtation with Hollywood, and a respected post-playing career in the radio booth and various businesses, Grange never escaped his heartland unpretentiousness; he always seemed to know who he was and how he got that way. "I could run," he once said, "and that was the basis of any success I ever had." Because he ran so well, of course, that success evolved into a full-blown legend worthy of Carroll's scrupulous and absorbing examination. --Jeff Silverman
From Library Journal
Carroll (Regents' Professor of History, Lamar Univ.) provides an excellent review of the life of Red Grange, the very mention of whom creates images of football; he is credited with being a major catalyst for the growth and increasing popularity of professional football. Starting with the historic Illinois-Michigan college football game in 1924, the author provides substantial documentation in chronicling the life of Grange from the time of his difficult, even traumatic childhood and adolescence through his successes in college and professional football to his death. Carroll details many of the social issues that not only confronted society during the 1920s and 1930s but also influenced the rise of football's popularity. The media frenzy that surrounded Grange's life helped to spotlight professional football's quest for legitimacy with sports purists. An informative and enjoyable book; highly recommended for all sports collections.ATim Delaney, Canisius Coll., Buffalo, NY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.