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Stunning photography, impeccable reporting
on August 20, 2010
Review: "Dallas Cowboys: 50 Years of Football", edited by David Bauer
Sports Illustrated The Dallas Cowboys: 50 Years of Football
Bauer, David (ed). Dallas Cowboys: 50 Years of Football. New York: Sports Illustrated Books. 2010 192p, illus. 29.95 (list) ISBN 978-1-60320-114-8
My first impression when opening this book was "it's big, very big". Not by page count, but by page size (11 x 12 inches). It is easily larger than the other Cowboy histories issued so far this year by Aron, Housewright and Miller. My second impression: the photographs are stunning. Coming from Sports Illustrated I would've expected no less.
This book follows the successful format established by "The Football Book" (2005; revised 2009) and "The College Football Book" (2008): lavish illustrations accompanying excellent contemporary game articles. This is the first team-specific edition published by SI and it is a worthy addition to the canon. It deserves a spot on the bookshelf of every Dallas Cowboys fan.
The book is organized by decade, with more articles devoted to the championship decades of the 70s and 90s. Given the top-flight reporting and photography that SI is known for, it is easy to love this gorgeous volume and hard to find anything to criticize about it. Still . . .
The most obvious question that came to my mind was: what does Mark Cuban in a towel have to do with the Cowboys (photograph on page 166)? Or a 70s-era Southwest Airlines airlines stewardess dressed in hotpants (page 60), or Ann Richards and her shotgun (page 134)? And others too numerous to mention. I suppose in the minds of SI's East Coast editors, these are examples of Texas' popular "culture", and the Cowboys are the most widely known example of Texas culture. And that's fine, except nowhere in the book does anyone explain this. These "cultural" shots are thrown in without explanation and with no obvious tie to the Cowboys, other than the fact that all are from (or represent) Texas. The reader is left to puzzle this out for him (or her) self. It would have been nice if the jacket blurb had at least mentioned why these otherwise unrelated pictures were thrown in (pictures which most likely were never shot by SI photographers, let alone published in its pages).
OK, so how about the pictures that ARE about the Cowboys? As expected, most are stunning. But at least two of them have erroneous captions. On p41 Cowboys QB Eddie LeBaron has saddled a DL identified as Ed Hussman -- but that's not Hussman. According to Cowboys superfan and memorabilia expert Stephen Liskey, the DL is actually Joe Nicely. Later, on p67, a leaping Tom Landry is identified as being in Super Bowl X. But the Cowboy players in the picture are missing the Bicentennial shoulder patch worn by members of both teams. So Tom must've been leaping about something other than the Steel Curtain (hats off to fellow fan Marty Ogelvie for pointing this out).
The articles, while well-written, cannot hope to cover the entire history of this storied franchise, and they don't attempt to. Although it results in uneven coverage of the team's history, these snap-shots in time will give today's fans a valuable and unvarnished glance at how the Cowboys were viewed at the time.
These very minor criticisms don't diminish from an otherwise superb book.
© Copyright Fred Goodwin, Aug 20, 2010