by Peter Golenbock ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 28, 1997
An outstanding four-decade overview of American social history masquerading as an impossibly entertaining sports tell-all. Bestselling sportswriter Golenbock's (Wrigleyville, 1996, etc.) brilliantly conceived and executed chronicle of the Dallas Cowboys speaks volumes about modern America. Granted an expansion franchise for the 1960 season, Texas oil millionaires Clint and John Murchison set about building a top-flight organization. To this end, they hired former PR man Tex Schramm as general manager (the author calls him ""a businessman as tough as Jimmy Hoffa""), personnel manager Gil Brandt, and coach Tom Landry, a no-nonsense, fundamentalist Christian. This troika built one of the most successful--and profitable--sports franchises. But if winning was the Cowboys' trademark, then management's failure to adapt to changing times was their undoing. Through interviews and secondary sources, Golenbock charts football's evolution from sporting afterthought to big-money television spectacle; he also reveals how players metamorphosed from anonymous drudges to entertainment superstars and vocal community leaders. Golenbock's study demonstrates how players' activism helped promote social causes such as civil rights. And for this outspokenness, many Cowboys, including a large number of blacks, wound up in the coach's and managers' doghouse. Schramm's and Brandt's penuriousness occasionally derailed the Cowboys gravy train. (Had they rewarded the players who helped win the team's first Super Bowl after the 1971 season, they likely could have kept the team intact.) And Landry's inability to understand the new breed of player created deep, damaging rifts in the Cowboy organization. The comments Golenbock elicits from individuals (conspicuously absent is Landry) shows readers another side of sports, and makes the business seem tawdry and dehumanizing. If this book has one fault, it's that it seems mostly to side with the players. But if even half of what they say is true, then it's small wonder. Should not be missed.
Pub Date: Aug. 28, 1997
Page Count: 848
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1997
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