Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Team for America by Randy Roberts

Why I read it: World War II history, in any form, intrigues me.

Summary: Red Blaik's 1944 Army team finally finds a way to beat Navy, as the country struggles through yet another year of World War II.

My Thoughts: I don't think I've ever fully formed my thoughts on the World War II generation. Every time I read a book on the subject, something stirs in my soul. At times I wonder if I'm falling victim to nostalgic fantasy; were these people really as heroic as I make them out to be (or as authors portray them)? More often than not, though, I err on the side of respect. As a cartoon troll from my childhood once said, let me give you a frinstance...

The story of A Team for America revolves around Red Blaik, for several reasons. First, yes, he was the coach that made history for Army. Second, though, he was the only constant. His players were at West Point. For the most part their primary goals were not football related (although some were recruited specifically to play ball and not for their potential military leadership abilities). But being at West Point during World War II also meant that their futures were in grave doubt once they left the football field for the last time. They faced death in the greatest meat-grinder in history. Blaik might find that once-in-a-lifetime back, but chances were he'd lose him before he reached his full potential.

That, to me, was the most heart-rending theme of this book. Of course, it is all ancient history now. We can Google the names of Glen Davis and Doc Blanchard and all the rest and learn of their fates, but when reading the book you're living in the moment, and live and die with the characters playing out the story.

I could go on a long rant right here about the current world not knowing the meaning of sacrifice, but I'll leave it be. But that, to me, is the story of World War II, a selflessness and sacrifice of personal freedoms on behalf of country that the modern American world will never fully understand.

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