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Cowboys Have Always Been My Heroes: The Definitive Oral History of America's Team Hardcover – August, 1997
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From Library Journal
Here is a book that will appeal to all football fans and Dallas Cowboys fans in particular, since it recounts the glory of the team in considerable detail; Cowboys haters may enjoy it, too, because the author and those interviewed do not hesitate to discuss negative things about the team that have been made familiar through the media. The mystique about the Cowboys, embodied in the phrase "America's Team," is reflected by huge sales of team logo items around the country and multiple appearances on national television. Golenbock (Wild, High, and Tight, LJ 1/94) has been able to talk to many of the "movers and shakers" from the Cowboys but aparently was unable to interview Don Meredith and Jimmy Johnson, which leaves some gaps. The coverage is somewhat uneven, as the early years are relived in great detail, but more recent seasons are skimmed over lightly. In sum, though, this is a fascinating, highly readable look at pro football and the team you either love or hate. Recommended for public libraries.?William O. Scheeren, Hempfield Area H.S. Lib., Greensburg, Pa.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The NFL's Dallas Cowboys, self-proclaimed America's team, has lost some of its luster recently--amid sex and drug scandals--but the franchise remains one of sports' greatest success stories. Best-selling sports author Golenbock presents the Cowboy saga in a massive oral history. In the words of key players such as Roger Staubach, Pete Gent, Lee Roy Jordan, and Mel Renfro, we hear behind-the-scenes reflections on both early struggles and later triumphs. The consistent themes are head coach Tom Landry's martinet style; general manager Tex Schramm's penurious approach to salaries; and the franchise's everyone's-replaceable attitude toward even its best players. Especially entertaining are Golen-bock's re-creations of the monumental clashes between the staunchly conservative, God-fearing Landry and many of his pot-smoking, hedonistic players. For all the great football stories related here, there remain some major gaps: too many key participants are ignored; the Landry interview is too brief and very superficial; current NFL coaches Mike Ditka and Dan Reeves, who both played and coached for Landry, are not interviewed; and, finally, the history of the team since Jerry Jones took over in 1988 is related via third-person sources. Without access to current players or coaches, Golenbock should have ended the book with Landry's dismissal. Like the Cowboys themselves, though, the book may be flawed, but it will still draw a crowd. Wes Lukowsky
Top customer reviews
The writer covers the first 35 years of Cowboy history. The book is presented as a collection of interviews with the players from each era. But the author allows one player who played for only four years to hijack so much of the book. Almost every event is discussed from the perspective of this one malcontent - even events that occurred long after he retired. The events that this one player could not skew were given brief coverage, including much of the 1970's. Even when he included interviews from other players, he included a summary sentence that contradicted the material that he had just presented. It was apparent that the author was just phoning it in at certain points when he wasn't channeling North Dallas Forty.
The author also includes numerous conspiracy theories that get tedious after a while.
The author definitely has it in for Tom Landry. For a man that led his team to 20 winning years in a row, Landry can do no right in this author's eyes. Every loss is Landry's fault (or the fault of his religion). Every victory is attributable to someone other than Landry.
A Cowboy fan (or even an opponent) would do better reading Cotton Bowl Days or Next Year's Champions.
This book is one of the, if not the best, documentary books I have read. The writing style consisting of pure statements from the actual people involved is outstanding.
PS Should be read with Pete Gent's North Dallas Forty.
Golenbock, Peter. Cowboys Have Always Been My Heroes: The Definitive Oral History of America's Team. NY: Warner Books. 1997 838p, illus. $27.00 ISBN 0-446-51950-2
This massive tome (838 pages) is written by a baseball fan from New York now living in Florida! At a recent booksigning, I asked Golenbock why write a history of the Cowboys. He said he had always been a Cowboys fan because they were to pro football what his beloved Yankees were to major league baseball.
When asked if he included material on the current Cowboys, he admitted he threw in a few chapters to attract current fans. But make no mistake: this book is about the Landry/Schramm Cowboys. The Jerry Jones, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer chapters read like the after-thoughts they are.
The strength of the book is the coverage of the early Cowboys from 1960 to 1979. Golenbock mixes original interviews with quotes from secondary sources to weave an "up-close and personal" look at players such as Don Meredith, Don Perkins and Pete Gent. In fact, Golenbock relies far too much on Gent. E.g., Gent (who was released after the '68 season) opines at length on the troubles between Coach Tom Landry and RB phenom Duane Thomas between during the '70 and '71 seasons. Golenbock never explains just how Gent (three years removed from the team) had any insight into the Thomas fiasco.
Meredith did not grant Golenbock an interview, which is unfortunate. Cowboy fans no doubt would have benefited from Meredith's views and insights on the very early Cowboys and his oftentimes rocky relationship with coach and taskmaster Tom Landry. The one impression that stayed with me from this book was how cold and impersonal Landry was with his players. He treated his stars no better than his rookies. For today's fan who views Landry as a kindly saint who led his team of choirboys to two NFL titles, this book is truly an eye-opener.
Golenbock speculates that Meredith refuses to grant interviews due to a continued resentment of the Dallas media who blamed him mercilessly for the teams' playoff failures, and of the fans in Dallas who showed him no loyalty in constantly calling for Craig Morton anytime Meredith failed to deliver. In truth, Meredith often followed Landry's play calls even knowing they would fail. When they did, Landry never accepted the blame and instead said publicly his QB failed to execute!
The level of detail grows steadily worse as the book progresses through the 80s and into the 90s. It appears Golenbock did not interview any of the current Cowboy players, coaches, staff or ownership. Nonetheless, his writing style makes for an easy read, despite the size of the book (78 chapters). The text consists mostly of player interviews or other quotes. Golenbock intersperses his own limited commentary to set the context. He does not flinch as he explores the racism experienced by black players when trying to find housing in Dallas of in the early 60s.
He also explores the drug use that was so prevalent around the team, beginning with Gent, through Thomas and culminating with the flame-out of Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson. Drew Pearson contributed extensive interviews for the book, saving his kindest words for "Captain America" Roger Staubach.
The one feature of the book that was most odd was Golenbock's footnote system. Footnotes and references are detailed in an eleven page appendix. Unfortunately, because Golenbock does not identify his footnotes with numbers, it is very difficult (but not impossible) to relate the footnote back to the text to which it refers. Worse yet, the text carries no indication of footnotes or references of any kind, leaving it to the reader's curiosity to look and see if a reference is available for any particular quote. I found usage of his footnote system to be very irritating and distracting to the point that I finally gave up on seeking out his sources.
In addition, the book suffers from sloppy editing and many errors of fact. Some of the mistakes are trivial: misspelling Texas State Senator Oscar Mauzy as "Mossi" (p. 348). Some are more significant: saying Jerry Jones has won four Super Bowls (don't we wish) at p. 808; saying Staubach won the Heisman his senior year at Navy (p. 395) when any Cowboy fan worth the Star knows Roger won it his junior year; and at p. 367, he says Perkins played nine seasons, when in fact, Perk played only eight years ('61-'68).
I'm sure Tex Schramm would love to read (p. 520) that he was fired in 1988 (while Landry was still there) instead of 1989 when Jerry Jones took over! He also says Danny White was the first Cowboys draft pick lost to a rival league (the WFL) since EJ Holub was lost to the AFL in 1962 (p. 559). In fact, after Holub the Cowboys lost eight other players to the AFL from 1962-66. And in several places, he says the Jimmy Johnson/Jerry Jones Arkansas Razorbacks won an SEC football title, when Arkansas was actually in the SWC at the time.
On the whole, however, the book is definitely worthy of a spot on the bookshelf of any Cowboy fan, especially fans wanting to fill-in their knowledge of the early Cowboys.
By the way: I asked Golenbock why didn't he title the book "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" like the Willie Nelson song? He said he titled it the way he did so Cowboy fans like me would ask him that question! Copyright 1997 by Fred Goodwin