On November 29, 1941, Army played Navy in front of 100,00 fans. Eight days later, the Japanese attacked and the young men who battled each other in that historic game were forced to fight a very different enemy. Author Lans Anderson follows four players—two from Annapolis and two from West Point—in a narrative of football and war. Through research and interviews with dozens of World War II veterans, Anderson tells these men's suspenseful journeys, from fierce fighting, heroic rescues, tragic death, and awe-inspiring victory.
"In this illuminating book, the author retraces Romanek's life and that of three other Army-Navy players as they evolve from young college men into furious, determined fighters facing trauma, suspense, and loss."—Reader's Digest
"Anderson, a Sports Illustrated staff writer whose father served in the Navy, makes a convincing case that the Army-Navy football rivalry played a significant role in preparing many young men for war . . . irresistible."—Sports Illustrated
"Anderson does a stellar job of portraying life just before and during World War II at the service academies, places of purpose and distinction."—The Philadelphia Inquirer
"The appeal of this great story should transcend generational boundaries."—Boston Herald
"A compelling, heartfelt drama about the loss of innocence of a generation at war and on the football fields in another time in America. This is a fascinating look at WWII from a completely new point of view."—Doug Stanton, New York Times bestselling author of In Harm's Way
"On November 29, 1941, the Army-Navy game proved to be one of the most thrilling matches ever waged between Annapolis and West Point, with 100,000 spectators (including Eleanor Roosevelt) in the stands. By the end of the game, writes Anderson, 'the undermanned Cadet players had fought as hard as Vikings, but the Midshipmen prevailed 14-6.' Nine days later the US was at war with the Axis, and Anderson's Rockwellian evocations of prewar military life ('Just the name of the naval academy sounded glamorous to him; it conveyed some magical faraway place where everyone was smart and strong') give way to the hard realities of combat in episodes starring four of the game's players, now commissioned officers. Anderson's account of the game itself is first-class, and the lessons to be drawn vis-a-vis football and war will be familiar to anyone who's been inside a locker room: 'We were officers in the war,' one officer recalls, 'but really, we were just kids in our early twenties. But most of us were put in charge of hundreds of soldiers. It's much easier to deal with that kind of responsibility once you've had the experience of playing football in front of 100,000 people.'"—Kirkus Reviews
"With dramatic writing, fully developed characters, and a story that captures both mind and heart, this book is everything the movie Pearl Harbor wanted to be, but wasn't."—Booklist
Reviews from Goodreads
The young man stood on the deck of the U.S.S. "Garfield," looking across the English Channel, into darkness. It was just after midnight on June 6, 1944, and the defining hour of Henry Romanek's life was...