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The Junction Boys: How 10 Days in Hell with Bear Bryant Forged a Champion Team Hardcover – September 10, 1999

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (September 10, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312192932
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312192938
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,104,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

When Bear Bryant took over the Texas A&M football program in 1954, he inherited a team that had lost its last five games by a combined score of 133-41. That season more than 100 Aggie hopefuls arrived in the small town of Junction for the first practice of a now legendary training camp. The sun bore down. The drills escalated. Trainers doled out water like gold, and meals and accommodations were horribly spartan. Ten hellish days later, only 34 remained to form the 1954 team that would only win one game, but those survivors--and that's what they were--formed the nucleus of the squad that would go undefeated just two years later.

This is the story of that team, that coach, the 10 days that shook their world, and the seasons they played together. "We lost alot (sic) of games," recalls Gene Stallings, who endured those days as a player and eventually followed Bryant as head coach both at A&M and Alabama, "but Coach Bryant knew what he was doing. Out of the yellow dust and the broiling heat of Junction, he forged a team of champions." Jim Dent's evocative recounting is so real and immediate you'll feel your throat getting scratchy as you read. You'll also feel remarkable respect for the players who toughed it out--and for Bryant, who begins as a man possessed, but, day after day, as he breaks the backs of some and helps instill true grit in others, transforms into a human being. --Jeff Silverman

From Publishers Weekly

When Paul "Bear" Bryant left the University of Kentucky to take the reins of the Texas A&M football program in 1954, his legend was already approaching Texas-size proportions (almost 30 years later, Bryant became the winningest Division I coach of all time, with most of his victories coming at the University of Alabama). The problem: he knew he had inherited an awful team. Texas sportswriter Dent (King of the Cowboys) tells how Bryant turned the A&M program around. Over 100 boys rode in three buses out to the remote west Texas town of Junction and began grueling practices on cactus-riddled gravel in 110-degree heat, with no water. Ten days later, all but 34 had quit or simply run off. The team won just one game that season; two years later, however, A&M went undefeated. Dent has produced a richly evocative chronicle of the time and place, filled with bourbon-swilling, money-rolled alumni and every conceivable form of coaching sadism (Bryan deliberately broke one player's nose with his own forehead on the first day of practice). Culled from dozens of interviews with participants, Dent's text follows the players through the training camp, the team's eventual success and Bryan's continuing influence in their lives. Dent is a smooth storyteller, and he writes with a novelistic, often gritty touch. Though he does show Bryan paying for recruits, driven by pride and savagely attacking his players, he excuses Bryan's excesses as part of what it takes to build winning character. In the end, Dent gives readers a whooping celebration of the myth of Texas gridiron machismo. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

Great story and very well written.
Dennis Maher
Hard Work Pays Off The story Junction Boys by Jim Dent is a book about a group of Aggies who need a new coach so they can get back to there winning ways.
Mid-Praire Teen
I definatley reccomend this book to any football fan that enjoys reading.
Jon T.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I heard about this book on sports radio in NY. Mike Francessa claimed it was one of the best books he had read and I second that remark. I am not a avid reader of books but finished this one in 2 days. If you are a sports enthusiast don't miss this epic story of the legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant. How one man created a championship program by running his new team into the ground, seeing who wished to remain standing with him on the sidelines of Texas A&M. The book shows how the strength of a coach and the courage of just a few players can overcome all odds. Jim Dent takes you to Junction, Texas and to the campus of A&M with these brave players. This book will not disappoint and it will open your eyes to what the true meaning of competition and rivalries are all about. There are so many inspiring stories that it will leave you with a lasting impression on what hard work can do for not only a team, but individuals who give their all for that team! From now on I'm rooting for the Aggies!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Chris Han on December 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Before there was Joe Paterno or Bobby Bowden or Lou Holtz, there was the incomparable Bear Bryant. Kids today act as if today's coaches are insufferable, or unbearable to work under, but most kids never knew Bear Bryant or even heard of the fabled coach.
Dent retells the tale of how 111 boys went into the Texas backwoods, and how only 35 survived. When you finish this book, it's hard to believe what the boys had to put up through, and why some of them even stayed around. Although the yarn of Junction is covered through only a few chapters, it's important to know how the Texas A&M program came from the ashes before Bryant to a respected and fear team after Junction.
From this book you'll learn the meaning of perseverance, dedication and hard work. You'll never complain about how hard something is until you've been put through Junction. A town during the mid 50's that was in drought and just about desolate.
Then you'll learn about who Bear Bryant is. A man who didn't know the meaning of quit. Who knew hard work and the will to win. If you thought Lombardi or a Parcells or even a Bobby Knight was incorrigible, then you never met Bear Bryant. If you want to pick up a great book on everything described above, then the Junction Boys is the place to start.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Fritz Steiner on December 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book, gives a wonderful insight not only into how Coach Bryant forged a championship team, but also into how he forged his own greatest coaching years.
Although the 10 days at Junction were brutal (the squeamish and soft-hearted should find another book to read)the results produced a group of players and men who were and remain both tough and successful.
The 10 days also made Coach Bryant aware that he'd probably gone too far. His practices at Texas A&M and Alabama remained as tough and demanding as any ever were in college football. But "Junction" was never repeated.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Derek Leaberry on January 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
Though worshipful of football coach and icon Bear Bryant, the author exposes a vile, shameful side to the well-beloved coach. Inheriting a Texas A & M football program in steep decline, Coach Bryant bussed his 110 players to the west Texas town of Junction for pre-season practice in August,1954 without having scouted the fields and team barracks his team would use for two weeks. When Bryant, his coaches and his players arrived in Junction, they stumbled across playing fields of cactus, essentially desert without grass. Junction, Texas had not received more than a scattering of rain for about five years and the terain looked it. Bryant worked his boys long and hard in the 100+ degree heat and allowed no water breaks. By the time the team embarked back to the university, the Aggies had dwindled to 35 players. Each night of the nightmare saw groups of players turn their backs on their scholarships, and in many cases their futures, escaping the torture camp which was Bryant's Junction. Sadly, many of the boys were in similar straights as Dennis Goehring, who stuck it out. Goehring's family had lost their ranch due to the six year west Texas drought. For Goehring, leaving Junction would have amounted to destitution. Goehring toughed it out. As did Jack Pardee, a future professional star as a player and coach. But even Pardee, tough as nails and an oil roughneck at 15 years of age to support his struggling family, collapsed and fainted on the practice field at Junction. Billy Schoeder collapsed as well and was kicked by Bryant as Schroeder lay helpless and unconcsious. Schroeder was taken to a doctor just in time to save his life from heat stroke and would never be the same physically. This whipped team would win only one game in 1954.Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Tim Graham on May 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Bear Bryant was a master at getting the most out of the men that played for him, and this story is the standard by which the rest of his life was lived. Compassion overwhelms you as you read this book. You feel compelled to cheer on the survivors no matter what they undertook, for they simply went through hell for ten days in Junction, TX with the devil himself conducting drills. They had more heart in them than the whole National Football League has in them today. By today's standards, Coach would have been considered cruel and insensitive. Yet he managed to have so many successful years at coaching because he knew how and with whom he could build a team. He knew who had character and he knew who had heart. This book I highly recommend for the humor, for the drama and for the all of the characters of the Fightin' Texas Aggie Football Team of 1954.
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More About the Author

Jim Dent is a New York Times bestselling author who has written nine books.
His latest, "Courage Beyond The Game: The Freddie Steinmark Story,'' was selected as one of the best nonfiction books of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews. It was also named one of the top eight biographies of the year. The book focuses on the life of Freddie Steinmark, who started nineteen straight winning games at the University of Texas and was an All-Southwest Conference performer on the 1969 national championship team. He played that year with an excruciatingly painful osteosarcoma in his left thighbone. Still, Steinmark left the field only once in the final regular season game against Arkansas. Texas defeated Arkansas 15-14 in the "Game Of The Century'' and went on to defeat Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. Steinmark's story has been compared to "Brian's Song'' and is expected to reach the big screen in 2012. Another one of Dent's bestselling books, "Twelve Mighty Orphans,'' is also slated for movie theaters before the end of the year. For more information on Dent, check out Facebook, along with his "Courage Beyond The Game'' page that includes two video documentaries on Steinmark's life. You might also want to read "The Junction Boys,'' that was adapted into an ESPN movie in 2002. Dent is currently working on his tenth book, along with producing the movie on Steinmark.