Soldiers First: Duty, Honor, Country, and Football at West Point

Joe Drape, Author
Joe Drape. Times, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9490-9
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4299-5534-8
Paperback - 285 pages - 978-1-250-03734-3
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Against the scandal-ridden college football landscape, Drape, a New York Times reporter and author of Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen, closely examines the Black Knights football team, representing the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, on the gridiron while preparing to serve their country. He notes the central theme motivating Army football as “duty, honor, and country,” a tradition stressed at the national landmark established in 1802. Jointly emphasizing the excellence of education and the rigors of military training, Drape captures the vitality of the team’s three-year coach (1960-63), Rich Ellerson, and his revamped football team, including the tales of players and real-life heroes Larry Dixon, Trent Steelman, and Tyson Quink. Special attention is paid to the recent hard-fought season of the Black Knights, notably the thrilling peak of the Army–Navy game, done in broad strokes as if by ESPN talking heads. In the end, Drape’s arresting account of West Point cadets on the football field and battlefield scores powerfully for both sport fans and military history buffs. (Sept.)
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