Academic journal article Military Review

THE REAL ALL AMERICANS: The Team That Changed a Game, a People, a Nation

Academic journal article Military Review

THE REAL ALL AMERICANS: The Team That Changed a Game, a People, a Nation

Article excerpt

THE REAL ALL AMERICANS: The Team that Changed a Game, a People, a Nation, Sally Jenkins, Doubleday, New York, 2007, 343 pages, $24.95.

Sally Jenkins's The Real All Americans is a fascinating history of the U.S. Army-founded Carlisle [Pennsylvania] Indian Industrial School and its stellar turn-of-the-century football team. The book describes the origins and development of Carlisle football through the lens of important individuals at the school, particularly founder and first director Brigadier General Richard Henry Pratt, coach Glenn "Pop" Warner, and an assortment of students and players, including Delos Lone Wolf, Bemus Pierce, Albert Exendine, Gus Welch, and the legendary Jim Thorpe. The research on diese subjects is impressively deep. Jenkins mined th appropriate archives, interviewed the avaUable descendants of key figures, and cited important secondary sources on the events and characters specific to her story. But for all its depth, the work lacks breadth.

There are several examples of this shortcoming, ranging from the superficial to the essential. Jenkins asserts that Carlisle revolutionized the game of football with trick plays and the forward pass, but her descriptions of how the Indians' style departed from the rest of the sport lack key specifics to make the point clear. She paints a negative, brief, and largely uninformed portrait of Theodore Roosevelt, simply because her protagonist Pratt did not like the president. And her descriptions of the Indian Wars of the late 19th century tend to rely too heavily on the perspectives of individual Indian participants, and thus it suffers from the biases common to autobiographical accounts. …

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