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A Civil War: Army vs. Navy: A Year Inside College Football's Purest Rivalry Hardcover – October 1, 1996
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Fans of Yale-Harvard--or, for that matter, of Tennessee State-Grambling--may disagree with sports author John Feinstein's subtitle, but this look inside the Cadet-Midshipmen wars backs up the idea of the annual Army-Navy game as a purer expression of the ideal of college athletics than your basic Poulan Weed-Eater Bowl. Feinstein focuses on the defensive captains from each 1995 squad, young men whose football careers end with the final gun of the big game. In a year when the service academies are enjoying their biggest gridiron success in many seasons, Feinstein's ruminations on the game seem particularly timely.
From Publishers Weekly
Although neither Army nor Navy is a college football power anymore, their annual rivalry still attracts national attention, and the game between the two service academies is the most important contest for both schools every season. In chronicling the 1995 game (the 96th meeting between the two teams), Feinstein (A Good Walk Spoiled) provides readers with a comprehensive backdrop to the game by recounting the events leading up to Army vs. Navy. Given almost unlimited access to the players and coaches, Feinstein does a superb job of capturing the emotional and physical impact the long season has on the team members of both sides, while also giving a taste of what life is like at Annapolis and West Point. Feinstein focuses his story by concentrating on a number of players at the two schools, providing brief backgrounds and their reasons for attending the academies. Among the players featured are Army's Jim Cantelupe and the offensive linemen nicknamed "The Fat Men," as well as Navy's Andrew Thompson and Chris McCoy. Providing an extra touch of drama is the fact that 1995 was the last year of Army coach Bob Sutton's contract, and his future at the school would be determined by the Cadets' performance in the Navy game. It is to Feinstein's credit that, although the outcome is already in the history books, he builds a sense of excitement and anticipation throughout the book about what would happen in the contest. (Army won.)
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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I generally love books about the military academies. Unfortunately I don't think Feinstein captures the atmosphere at these two schools. He does however do a good job with in-depth descriptions of some of a number of the players at the schools. I particularly felt for the kicker for Navy, Ryan Bucchianeri, who received poor treatment by the Navy coaches and exceedingly poor treatment by his fellow Navy midshipmen. One would think that the students at the academies would support their fellow students instead of ridiculing them.
John Feinstein may be the finest sports writer of all time. Mr. Feinstein manages to get inside the ropes and minds of his subject in every one of his books. Rarely, does the reader have any background to test whether what he is telling us is the actual truth or the author's creation. In the case of A Civil War, I know that his insight is 20/20. Knowing that has made my reading of all his other books more enjoyable.
If you have an interest in the Army Navy Game, by all means read this book. If your interest runs deeper into what motivates the men and women who enter our service academies and go on to serve the country -- this is one of the best sources to gain that understanding.