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The Kids Got It Right: How the Texas All-Stars Kicked Down Racial Walls Hardcover – August 20, 2013

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Editorial Reviews


If I could have any sports wish granted today, it would be that every student from seventh grade up in Southeast Texas be required to read Jim Dent's latest and, without question, most important book -- The Kids Got It Right. Dent, who is a masterful story teller, is at his best with this real-life tale of how a courageous black athlete from Beaumont, Jerry LeVias, and a white superstar from Palestine, Bill Bradley, helped break down racial barriers in the 1960s in the context of a football holy war between Texas and Pennsylvania. (Port Arthur News)

Consummate sports chronicler Dent (Courage Behind the Game: The Freddie Steinmark Story, 2012, etc.) examines a transformative football event in Texas that blurred racial boundaries… A passionate, well-reported history of the role Texas football played in America's racial integration. (Kirkus)

Dent (The Junction Boys) spotlights on of the prouder moments in Texas gridiron lore, with its first high school football integration effort winning the 1965 Big 33… A work of tolerance, sportsmanship, and friendship, Dent's account of coach Layne and his boys is a feel-good American story that never slumps into slogans or stereotypes. (Publishers Weekly)

Porlific and popular sportswriter Jim Dent relates the forgotten story of the 1965 Big 33 All-Star game between high schoolers representing Pennsylvania and Texas… A warm and positive take on times of change that should appeal to football fans and broader readers. (Library Journal)

I know how big the Big 33 game was because I covered it back in the sixties in Hershey, Pennsylvania. It was the Super Bowl before there was such a thing. Recruiters and writers came from everywhere just to see the talent. Once more, Jim Dent has brought home a story that is both fun and inspirational. Great writing, great stuff.' (Randy Galloway, ESPN Radio and Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

I've been covering major sports in Texas for more than thirty years, and I must confess that my favorite ones are always about the high school athletes. This terrific tale about the friendship of Jerry LeVias and Bill Bradley shines a bright light into a dark hole concerning the death of segregation. It is the best high school story I've seen yet. Of course, there is no one better to write it than Jim Dent because he is the best story-teller I know. (Dale Hansen, WFAA Sports Anchor)

It was first down and seemingly a lifetime for racial integration of Texas high school football. Jim Dent tells the compelling story of how two great players began that drive.' (Randy Harvey, Houston Chronicle)

Jim Dent has a great sense of the history of football in Texas, and it's place in our state's culture. Like his other books, The Kids Got It Right carries a message that will resonate with any reader. His book takes you back to a fascinating time in our country that seems distant, and yet really wasn't that long ago. (George Dunham, KTCK, The Ticket)

Jim Dent, dadgum him, keeps writing books I wish I'd written. Like The Junction Boys and Twelve Mighty Orphans, to name two. Now here he comes with another terrific effort, Courage Beyond the Game, the story of the most courageous kid to ever pull on a football suit. If you pick it up, it's guaranteed to pick you up. (Dan Jenkins, author of Semi-Tough and Dead Solid Perfect)

Jim Dent is a world class story teller, and in Freddie Steinmark's courageous and triumphant fight to be a man of substance, he's found a tale worthy of his ample talents. Dent will bring tears to your eyes, and Steinmark's example will make you want to be a better person. (Joe Drape, New York Times bestselling author of Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen, on Courage Beyond the Game)

You will cheer and you will weep as you read Jim Dent's irresistible rendering of one of the great real-life dramas in college football history. Dent has brought plenty of tough guys to life in his other books, but little Freddie Steinmark surely ranks as the toughest. Dent has brilliantly re-cast a Longhorn legend. I could not put Courage Beyond the Game down. (John Eisenberg, author of That First Season: How Vince Lombardi Took the Worst Team in the NFL and set it on the Path to Glory, and Cotton Bowl Days: Growing up with Dallas and the Cowboys in the 1960s)

Freddie Steinmark's story will inspire you and make you cry, and Jim Dent has told it better than anyone in Courage Beyond the Game. Jim's eye for detail and gifted writing will take you back to another place and time, and a new generation of college football fans will learn why Freddie lives forever in the hearts of those he touched in his brief life.' (Richard Justice, lead sports columnist for The Houston Chronicle)

Courage Beyond the Game is a wonderful book whose protagonist, the doomed University of Texas safety Freddie Steinmark, delivers just what the title promises. Veteran sports author Jim Dent infuses a narrative whose ending we all know with depth, tenderness, and unexpected insights. His Steinmark could have easily been a cardboard saint. Instead the Steinmark we meet is intensely human, inspirational, funny and utterly unforgettable. This was a book I couldn't put down. (Bill Livingston, Cleveland Plain Dealer sports columnist)

Jim Dent once again proves his mastery of the way football felt and sounded in the days of Texas and the Southwest Conference. His inspirational portrait of Freddie Steinmark takes us back to a purer time. (Mark Whicker, Orange Country Register sports columnist, on Courage Beyond the Game)

Freddie Steinmark defined college football with his unquenchable thirst for life, unbridled spirit through adversity, and rare passion for the game he lived to play. Jim Dent can tell a story life like few others and brought this must-read, must-be-told account back to life for all to relish with his riveting, gut-wrenching book, Courage Beyond the Game. (Kirk Bohls, Austin American Statesman sports columnist)

About the Author

JIM DENT, a New York Times bestselling author, has written ten books including fan favorites Twelve Mighty Orphans and Junction Boys, which became a popular ESPN movie. He is an award-winning journalist who covered the Dallas Cowboys for the Dallas Times Herald and Fort Worth Star-Telegram for eleven years. For more information on the author and his book-signings, visit Jim Dent on Facebook on his personal page.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (August 20, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250007852
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250007858
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #736,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Dickey on October 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Jim Dent chronicles what today would be an insignificant occurrence - a white athlete rooming with a black athlete - but in 1964 it was a giant leap for
and a major break through in college football in the South. Jerry Levias courageously broke the color barrier in the treasured and storied Southwest Conference. Some might say Bill Bradley was courageous for volunteering to room with Levias at the Big 33 game in Hershey, PA. It was not courage. It was Bill Bradley being Bill Bradley. A friendship emerged that transcended the historical significance of that week in Hershey. Having played against Levias in college I can only imagine the courage it must have taken for him Saturday after Saturday to visit the hostile stadiums of the SWC - including his own home stadium - the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. And not only to face the hostility every week, but to play at the level he played is truly amazing.

A great read and a fun read. Dent's narrative of Bradley's friend and teammate from Palestine, Curtis Fitzgerald, and the courage he displayed in Vietnam could be a book within itself, if not a movie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on October 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the great demonstrations across America in support of the Civil Rights movement. Much has been written and spoken about this chapter in our nation's history. Throughout the discussion, many have recognized the influence of athletics in opening the doors of white-only institutions and the resulting integration of our society. Many share the belief of Alabama assistant football coach Jerry Claiborne, who observed, "Sam Cunningham did more for integration in sixty minutes than Dr. Martin Luther King did in twenty years."

Cunningham was an African-American football player at USC. In 1970, his team travelled to Birmingham to face the University of Alabama, a school that still refused to recruit black players. The Trojans of USC crushed Alabama 42-21. Cunningham ran wild in the game, and the following year Alabama officials allowed Bear Bryant to recruit black athletes. The last walls of segregation at southern colleges crumbled away.

THE KIDS GOT IT RIGHT is the story of another event that served to move the civil rights meter a few steps closer to the goal of equal justice. Jim Dent, who has written football history (from Bronco Nagurski to Bear Bryant), tells the story of the Texas-Pennsylvania high school football rivalry of the 1960s where the two states, both claiming superiority on the gridiron, battled in the Big 33 game in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

The first Texas-Pennsylvania battle occurred in 1965. Pennsylvania made certain they would win the game by scheduling the contest for the same weekend as the annual Texas High School All-Star game. The best Texas players stayed home for the most prestigious game in the state.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. Pierotti on October 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating book; not only for the story it tells, but even more so for the many more it fails to tell. The core of the book is the intertwined stories of Palestine high school and University of Texas quarterback Bill Bradley, and Beaumont Hebert and SMU All American receiver Jerry Levias, the first Black player to be offered a football scholarship in the old Southwest Conference (SWC) in 1965. There are a number of qualifiers in my previous sentence, and these actually point to some themes that are germane to this story. First, the SWC no longer exists, its eight teams scattered to the football winds, with Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor and TCU currently lodged in the Big 12 (or 12-2, since it currently has only 10 teams), and TCU only joined after an abortive flirtation with, of all conference, the Big East, after Arkansas and Texas A&M fled to the Southeastern Conference, apparently seeking lower academic standards. The remaining, poor relations (athletically, if not academically) Rice and SMU, have jumped from conference to conference, seeking permanent homes. SMU can claim the glory for having destroyed the SWC when its football program was given the "Death Penalty" in 1986 for playing players before Time Magazine thought it was OK.
I digress, but not as much as you might think, because SMU became an outlaw among the good old boys of the SWC for signing Levias, and subsequently other black players. The subtheme here is that Levias was not the first non-white to play SWC football, because, unlike contemporary Republicans, Texas good ole boys were specialized racists, targeting only blacks.
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This is a terrific book that really brings history alive. As a Northerner, I never realized the racial segregation that still existed in my lifetime down South. This is a story of a parent's influence (Bill Bradley's father's working with blacks and raising his son to be socially progressive), the courage of Bradley to embrace a black teammate and the determination of LeVias to understand his special opportunity and embrace the challenge of acting beyond reproach. In the end, the book is the story of players and coaches who were not willing to accept another embarrassing loss in an all-star game and their determination to come together to accomplish their mission. And for even a casual pro football fan of the 1960s and early 1970s, the names - Bubba and Tody Smith, Miller and Mel Farr, Norm Boulach, Terry Hanratty, John Capalletti - bring back memories. . . No one - NO ONE - writes like Jim Dent! I read everything he writes because he makes football history come alive.
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