Fallen Stars: Five American Athletes Who Died in Military Service

Fallen Stars: Five American Athletes Who Died in Military Service

Fallen Stars: Five American Athletes Who Died in Military Service

Fallen Stars: Five American Athletes Who Died in Military Service

Synopsis

In the spring of 2002, motivated by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, National Football League stalwart Patrick Daniel Tillman turned down a multimillion-dollar contract to join the US Army. Two years later, he died while serving his country in the mountains of Afghanistan. In the process, he became an American icon.

Inspired by Pat Tillman's story, Fallen Stars captures the lives and times of Tillman (1976-2004) and four other war-hero American athletes: Hamilton "Ham" Fish (1873-98), Hobart "Hobey" Baker (1892-1918), Nile Kinnick (1918-43), and James Robert "Bob" Kalsu (1945-70), all of whom died while serving in the US military.

Why a focus on fallen war-hero athletes, and why these five? Because here we have over a century's worth of men who faced the fears and uncertainties that come with life and made the ultimate sacrifice. Their stories give us a kaleidoscopic picture of America over the course of more than one hundred years, and through them we can explore the wars America has participated in, the values that Americans have celebrated, and what it has meant, over time, to be an American hero.

Excerpt

In the spring of 2002, motivated by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, football stalwart Patrick Daniel Tillman turned down a multimillion-dollar National Football League (NFL) contract and instead joined the us Army. Two years later, he died serving his country in the mountains of Afghanistan. in the process, he became an American icon.

Sports Illustrated put Tillman on its cover. His nfl jerseys sold in record fashion. Five years after Tillman’s death, author Jon Krakauer published an authorized biography of him that was a best seller.

People across the country and the world have wondered what motivated Tillman to leave the nfl for the army, marveled at the public’s response to his death, and tried to figure out what his life reflected about America.

Given America’s love for sports and the importance of heroes, the Tillman story made me wonder about not only him but other standout athletes who died in military service to their country. Who were they, and what were their lives like? How did the American media respond to their deaths? What might it all say about America, then and now?

This book, then, captures the lives and times of five war-hero athletes: Hamilton “Ham” Fish, Hobart “Hobey” Baker, Nile Kinnick, James Robert Kalsu, and Patrick Tillman, all of whom died while serving in the us military. These men’s lives are filled with drama, sacrifice, and jaw-dropping physical feats. Their stories give us a kaleidoscopic picture of America over the course of more than one hundred years. Through these men, we learn about the wars that America has participated in, the values that Americans have celebrated, and what it has meant to be an American hero.

Celebrated historian Roderick Nash maintained that figuring out what . . .

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