The Game: Harvard, Yale, and America in 1968 (Hardcover)
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A Newsweek and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
From the author of the bestselling National Book Award finalist The Big House comes a story in the tradition of The Boys in the Boat about an unforgettable group of young athletes who battled in the legendary Harvard-Yale football game of 1968 amidst the sweeping currents of one of the most transformative years in American history.
On November 23, 1968, near the end of a turbulent and memorable year, there was a football game that would also prove turbulent and memorable: the season-ending clash between Harvard and Yale. Both teams entered undefeated and, technically at least, came out undefeated. The final score was 29-29.
To some of the players on the field, it was a triumph; to others a tragedy. And to many, the reasons had as much to do with one side’s miraculous comeback in the game’s final 42 seconds as it did with the months that preceded it, months that witnessed the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, police brutality at the Democratic National Convention, inner-city riots, campus takeovers, and, looming over everything, the war in Vietnam.
George Howe Colt’s The Game is the story of that iconic American year, as seen through the young men who lived it and were changed by it. One player had recently returned from eight months under fire in Vietnam. Two were members of the radical antiwar group SDS. There was an all-American football hero whose nickname was “God.” There was one NFL prospect who quit to devote his time to black altruism, another who went on to be Pro-Bowler Calvin Hill. There was a postal clerk’s son who worried about fitting in with the preppies, and a wealthy WASP eager to prove he could handle the blue-collar kids’ hits. There was a guard named Tommy Lee Jones, and fullback who dated a young Meryl Streep. They came from every class and background, but played side by side and together forged a moment of startling grace in the midst of the storm.
Vivid, lively, and constantly surprising, this magnificent and intimate work of history is the story of ordinary people in an extraordinary time, and of a country facing issues that we continue to wrestle with to this day.
About the Author
George Howe Colt is the bestselling author of The Big House, which was a National Book Award finalist and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; Brothers; November of the Soul; and The Game. He lives in Western Massachusetts with his wife, the writer Anne Fadiman.
“The Game is the rare sports book that lives up to the claim of so many entrants in this genre: It is, in its way, the portrait of an era.”
"Colt’s recounting of this significant college game also resounds with significant cultural commentary on a tumultuous period. It’s a well-blended narrative packed with top-notch reporting and even relevance for our own time."
"Compelling and affectionate... Terrific."
"There's no doubt that football fans will find The Game fascinating — Colt understands the nuances of the sport, and he writes about it with an enthusiasm that never descends into rah-rah fandom. But you don't have to be a sports fan to enjoy the book; like Buzz Bissinger's Friday Night Lights, its human focus makes it accessible to everyone, even if you don't know the difference between a touchback and a touchdown. Vibrant, energetic and beautifully structured, The Game is a big-time winner."
"Deftly weaves anecdotes from players with some of the major newsmakers in a profoundly tumultuous year.”
"Successfully blends the tenor of the times into the narrative of two elite universities as they march toward their end-of-season football showdown in 1968. As the epic game approaches, the reader has come to know and be invested in so many players from both sides that one wishes there would be no winner.”
"A fascinating look at a famous game and a turbulent year in America."
"I began to read this book believing that the 1968 Harvard Yale game could not possibly represent anything more than a tiny sliver of American life—and an elite one at that. Three hundred forty-one pages later, George Howe Colt’s spirited prose and encompassing vision convinced me otherwise. The game itself is plenty of fun, of course, but it’s the narrative's nation-spanning context that kept me riveted to this book.”
— S.C. Gwynne, author of Empire of the Summer Moon and Rebel Yell
"A richly detailed, engaging story... First-rate reporting and writing that will appeal to gridiron fans and general readers as well."
"By humanizing the players, the accounts of each team's amazing season and the four-chapter recap of their final, unbelievable game are elevated above entertaining sports reporting to thoughtful, emotional storytelling. This excellent history illustrates sport's powerful role in American society."
“College football fans will be drawn to the game action, but the stories of these young men and their adjustments to the 1960s will keep them reading. The game might have ended in a tie, but this book is a winner.”