Go Gators: An Oral History Of Florida's Pursuit Of Gridiron Glory
by Peter Golenbock
Category: Non-fiction / Historical
702 pages; ISBN: 0965078213
Rating: 8/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Norman Goldman
If you had to write a thesis pertaining to the history of football in Florida and more particularly the University of Florida football team, your initial reference text would have to be Go Gators: An Oral History Of Florida’s Pursuit Of Gridiron Glory authored by Peter Golenbock.
Golenbock is a well-known author and sports historian who has written six New York Times best sellers. He is widely known for authoring many important books such as Bums: An Oral History Of the Brooklyn Dodgers: America Zoom (1993) a history of NASCAR, Dynasty: The New York Yankees (1949-64), and many more.
He has always been passionate about his themes and it would seem he cherishes taking on writing tasks that seem impossible.
However, as John Steinbeck remarked in his Journals of a Novel, “a good writer always works at the impossible.”
The Go Gators book is an information packed homage to a football team, who until 1991 never won the Southeast Conference Championship.
The book focuses itself on oral interviews with former players that expose first hand accounts and insights that generally cannot be found within any written context.
They exist, for the most part, in the memories of the players who have shared their experiences, thoughts and perspectives with the author.
Their inner feelings are poignantly revealed when they discuss their fellow teammates such as Heisman trophy winner Steve Spurrier or the winning of their first Gator Bowl game.
No doubt, one of the difficulties in writing this type of a book is maintaining the reader’s interest, particularly when the book is 702 pages.
Golenbock, however, succeeds in that he effectively portrays the emotional attachments these former players had to each other and to their coaches, such as Bear Wolf, Bob Woodruff, Ray Graves, Charlie Pell, and Doug Dickey.
Individuals are depicted as not only football athletes but also people who are real connected to a fascinating history.
A history dating back to November 22, 1901, when the first football game in the State of Florida was played. The Florida Agricultural College (as it was known prior to having its name changed to the University of Florida in 1903) lost to Stetson University 6-0.
Golenbock also manages to locate the oldest living member of the 1928 team, Wilbur James, who offers some wonderful insights as to what it was like playing football in the late 20s.
In the main it is a history where winning the Southeast Conference Championship was the team’s Holy Grail, and as the author states, “for more than forty years, the Holy Grail remained elusive.”
The book is certainly not a quick read, however, it was probably not the author’s intention.
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