City of Champions: An American Story of Leather Helmets, Iron Wills, and the High School Kids from Jersey Who Won It All

Hank Gola. Tatra, $27 (465p) ISBN 978-1-73222-270-0
New York Daily News sportswriter Gola (Tiger Woods: A Pictorial Biography) recounts the story of the 1939 high school football national championship between two remarkably different teams. Gola writes how the working-class students of Garfield High School in New Jersey took on the more wealthy and renowned team from Miami, Fla. The narrative tracks each team’s progress throughout three seasons, with game summaries and analyses drawn from old tapes and news reports, culminating in the championship game in Miami’s newly built Orange Bowl. Gola also touches on life in America between the world wars, especially for the working-class immigrant families that made up and supported the Jersey team (including many Italians and Eastern Europeans), and the prejudiced Southern atmosphere around the segregated Miami Senior High. Throughout, Gola depicts a watershed period in American history as the country began climbing out from the Depression and war loomed. Football fans will relish this history of a bygone era in the sport—complete with 45 photos—and delight in the many anecdotes (the Garfield team’s stay at the upscale Alcazar hotel is particularly endearing) and play-by-plays of Miami’s Davey Eldredge muscling through Garfield’s defense and Benny Babula’s game-winning field goal. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/24/2018
Release date: 11/26/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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