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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2004
As a writer myself, I admit I was a bit concerned when I first met Warren St. John in the RV lot before one of the games he tells about in this book. Concerned on two accounts.

First worry: He seemed to be a nice enough fellow, but he did work for the NY Times. That's the way he was invariably introduced to everyone in the lot, sort of like politely pointing out a slightly addled third cousin at a family reunion. I assumed he would come at us serious college football fans (read: "crazy as a loon") from the usual perspective. You know: rubes bearing rolls of toilet paper and a Tide detergent box impaled on a "plumber's friend." screaming crimson-tinged obscenities at anyone ignorant enough to root for anybody else.

Either that or, coming from where he did, he would miss the whole point, that these folks may act a bit peculiar when they pull their RVs into the Law Library lot on Wednesday before a Saturday game, but they are mostly salt-of-the-earth types, people you are proud to have in your army, just like millions of other folks who color their lives in pursuit of pastimes or allegiances that seem absolutely goofy to most of the rest of us right-thinking intellectuals. Certainly no different from rabid Red Sox or Cubs fans, the Dawg Pound in Cleveland or the crazies who show up for Raider games. Just different in the color of our face-paint and the poetry of our cheers. Our poison just happens to be 18-year-old young men on a college football field who proudly sweat and bleed while wearing our school colors. Not pro football, international soccer or widget collecting.

But then, it turns out that St. John is one of us. He understands. And yet he is a good enough reporter to tell the truth about us, warts and all, and do it in an informative and entertaining way.

There's the rub. As a writer, I'm damned envious. Man, this guy can put us right in the middle of a tailgate party, a fourth-and-goal with the clock running down, or a scholarly dissertation on the nature of fandom in ancient Rome as it applies to college sports and make it all read like a lazy conversation over a Coors Light at a bar on the Tuscaloosa strip. St. John had me hooked right up front when he described Bear Bryant's "old growth stature." Bingo! That's a goodie!

This, by the way, is not a college football book. No more than HUCK FINN is a book about a raft. This is a very funny, sometimes serious, often moving, and an always entertaining (and sometimes astonishing) examination of a phenomenon that surprisingly few have really tried to dissect before. I hope it helps others see why we do the things we do in the name of our beloved Crimson Tide, or whoever "our team" happens to be. Or gives us better insight into the psyches of the fans of the Red Sox, Cubs, Browns, and Raiders. Maybe even a glimpse into the thought processes of those poor, misguided souls who pull for the Tennessee Vols or Auburn Tigers.

No. Belay that. That would be asking too much of any book or writer.

Thanks, Warren. You took the ball over the top, into the end zone, and we're huggin' and high-fivin' and lettin' loose a rousing rendition of Rammer Jammer that they'll hear all the way to wherever we tee up the ball next.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2004
First, I have to confess that I have absolutely no interest in any kind of sports, especially college football -- but I read this hilarious and fascinating book in one day. I loved St. John's account of careening through the South in his R.V., with accounts of his conversations with other fans, the logistics of cadging the tickets, the etiquette of the tailgates and trailer lots, the traditions and superstitions surrounding what to wear to the games. St. John is a true fan himself, and a Southerner, so the book doesn't have an annoying snarky tone; he's part of what he describes.

Tom Wolfe provides a blurb for the book, and it is truly Wolfe-ian in its inclusion of the precise details that give an intense sub-culture its vitality.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2004
As a lifelong Alabama fan, I, too, have experienced the thrill of great victories and numerous championships and also suffered the agony of many recent defeats while living in far-away (from 'Bama) places, Also, as a publisher of a fan website ([...]) devoted to the thousands of passionate fans that Warren St. John describes, I empathize with Warren St. John's outstanding depiction of what it is like to be a true fan of the Crimson Tide.

Rammer Jammer is a great read for not just Alabama fans, but for any true fans of any team where passion is displayed on a large scale. St. John's story of the picture he had taken with legendary Alabama coach, Paul "Bear" Bryant, is one that little boys our age in Alabama grew up dreaming about.

St. John's book should be required reading at tailgates across the nation.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2004
As a participant in the story, I was a little nervous about how it would appear in print. No problem there. I enjoyed reading Warren's take on all of the personalities he encountered. His up and down moods through the games were a sight to see. He captured the feelings perfectly. I have recommended the book to friends that know nothing about Alabama football. They all look forward to reading about the mystique of those of us who follow Dixie's Football Pride.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
What makes rational (or seemingly rational) people to put part of one life on hold during the fall to follow another life on the road RVing across the south following "their" football team? I don't know if you will come away from St. John's book knowing the answer, but you'll have a great trip along the way. There are sports fans in the world, and there are college football fans, but the southern college fan is a breed all unto itself. Life in the fall takes on a new dimension following teams to their weekly Saturday matches. The author's journey begins with the story of a couple who missed their own daughter's wedding because it conflicted with an Alabama Football game (they made the reception). And with that story the door is opened to world of colorful characters, each expressing his or her devotion to 'Bama football in their own way, but while each story is unique, they all make up the sea of red to be seen in Bryant-Denny Stadium on those glorious Saturdays. The book is an enjoyable armchair ride in the tradition of the best travel writing of Bryson and others. It looks at how deep the legacy of Paul "Bear" Bryant runs to this day, over two decades since he coached his last Alabama football game. The book is a portal into a world most of us see at a distance at best. Roll Tide!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2004
This book is ABSOLUTELY HYSTERICAL!! I grew up in Alabama, lived in Birmingham at one time, and went to school at the University, so I can absolutely picture the places and people. Not to mention I have gotten faaaaar too carried away in the emotion of many a Bama game. But even if you have no relation to Alabama - the school or the state - you will revel in the hilarity of this book. St. John writes with such passion, color, wit, sarcasm, and humor that I found myself busting out in laughter at least once a page. This is a must read!! Even if you're not a sports fan you will be both amused and bemused by the quirky cast of Southern characters and diehard fans. Buy it, read it, and don't miss a word!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 3, 2005
One of the best sports books of our time...St.John was raised an Alabama man, and a good Alabama man...His Columbia education has served him well....he has, as evidenced by this book, the ability to be inside something, to convey the flesh, blood, spirit and emotion of the Alabama RV scene and, at the same time, step back, analyze it and put it in context with the larger world. Truly outstanding book. Truly outstanding. Every fan of college football, especially SEC football, will enjoy this book...Those who are trying to understand the phenomena of college football, especially in the South, will find this book especially enjoyable, entertaining and informative. Well done, St. John, Well done. Coach Bryant would be proud. Your book "aint nothing but a winner..." P.S. War Eagle!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2004
Who hasn't wanted to climb into their very own Hawg, complete with shag carpeting and fading football decals, and hit the road in the quest to answer questions such as: Why are fans crazy? Are fans crazy? Have they discovered the true essence of fellowship? Is that ref crazy?! Why not have another? St. John's book is the perfect combination of travel book, social observation, philosophical tract, slice of Americana, sports column, historical perspective and humor. I have only a passing knowledge of sports, and I NEVER read the sports pages, yet I found this book immensely entertaining. St. John treats his fellow fans as comrades-in-arms - real people rather than easy caricatures - and the reader gains a true insight into the mind of the fan in the process of meeting them.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2006
Warren St John's book is well paced, funny and fascinating. It's also incredibly well written, which is not surprising to anyone who enjoys his articles in the New York Times. What is surprising, however, was how engrossing Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer became to a non-football fan. I loved it and couldn't put it down. An enjoyable, quick read for the fan in all of us.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2004
Warren did an excellent job of putting the reader right in the middle of the tailgate party or in the stadium for the closing seconds of the game. You don't have to be a Crimson Tide fan to enjoy this book, I think any die hard fan can relate to Warren's experiences following Alabama football.
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