cover image All American: Why I Believe in Football, God and the War in Iraq

All American: Why I Believe in Football, God and the War in Iraq

Robert McGovern, . . HarperCollins, $25.95 (316pp) ISBN 978-0-061-22785-1

God and football are justified by the author's Catholic education and his four-season stint as an NFL linebacker (with the Chiefs, Steelers and Patriots), full of gridiron pratfalls and hymns to teamwork, goal setting and perseverance. The war in Iraq is justified by his experiences as an army lawyer prosecuting terrorists and insurgents in Baghdad, which he elaborates with strident rhetoric—"we serve the cause for [sic] peace and life, while our enemy seeks only chaos and death"—and tendentious argument. McGovern's case is simplistic and one-sided. He blames the violence in Iraq entirely on foreign terrorists while ignoring the sectarian strife engulfing the country. He insists that Saddam was a "clear and present danger" who would have attacked America if he could. Instead of confronting critics of the Iraq War head-on, McGovern conflates them with unnamed straw men who allegedly want to coddle Osama bin Laden. It all merges into a manifesto, complete with broadsides denouncing drugs and supporting the death penalty, a touch of France-bashing and jockishly cloying salutes to lawyer colleagues ("Deep down inside, John is really just a big old Teddy bear"), revered coaches and other all-Americans. McGovern's stay-the-course cheerleading seems irrelevant to the agonizing quandaries confronting America in Iraq or the results of the recent elections. Photos. (Jan. 30)