Saturday, August 31, 2013

Review of "The President's Team"

The Army-Navy football game is considered by many to be the best ritvalry in all of sports.   One particular game of this rivalry, 1963, was played under very trying circumstances.  That game, the ups and downs of that year's Navy squad and an account of their most prominent fan of that year, are all portrayed in "The President's Team."

“The President’s Team: The 1963 Army-Navy Game & the Assassination of JFK” by Michael Connelly
Football (American), college, history, military, politics
January 13, 2009
306 pages
4 of 5 stars – very good
November 22, 1963 is a date that is etched in every American’s memory.  Whether or not a person was alive to say where he or she was when the news was announced, the date always brings a sad thought or memory at the thought of John F. Kennedy dying in the presidential limousine in Dallas.  Kennedy was a Navy veteran and a huge fan of the Naval Academy football team.   The two are interwoven in Michael Connelly’s book about both the man and the football team.
Connelly interweaves biological information about Kennedy and analysis of the football teams of the Naval Academy of the early 1960’s.  The latter is an important point because while most of the football portion of the book is about Navy’s 1963 season, the information Connelly shares about the team illustrates the bond between the President and the football team.  
The information shared on President Kennedy is not too detailed, but for a book of this nature, with football as the main bond between the two main subjects, it is more than adequate to describe the highlights of his time in office and also of his love for football.  Of course, the famous Kennedy touch football games are given their proper due in this book.
If the reader is more interested in the football than the history or politics, then consider this an excellent source of information about the 1963 Navy football team and its Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Roger Staubach.   The previous two years were the buildup to this season in which ironically, the two losses they suffered were in Dallas.  The connection between that fact and that it was where the assassination took place is made by Connelly in a wonder manner.  Each game of Navy’s 1963 season has its own chapter and recap.  Just like with the Kennedy pieces, the writing is detailed enough for a football fan to enjoy, but not so much so that even non-football fans will enjoy these passages as well.
The book will bring back memories for those readers who were around for the events of that time.   For those who were not (or too young to remember them), readers will get to experience a glimpse of not only a nation in deep mourning for the loss of its leader, but also will get to experience a glimpse of what it was like to be a football player for the Naval Academy at the time.  A very good book that should appeal to readers of many topics.
Did I skim?
Did I learn something new? 
Yes.  I did learn a little more about Kennedy’s military career and his heroics, but the bulk of new information I learned was about the Navy football teams of that time.  I knew about Staubach and his fantastic junior year, but I did not realize just how good a complete football team this group of Midshipmen was. 
Pace of the book:
Good – switching between the football and the politics of the time kept the reader involved in both sections.
There are many of them.  The writing style is very good – technical enough to show that the writer was very knowledgeable of the topic, yet in a style that was easy to read.  Those who may not know much about football or Presidential history will be able to read and understand these topics just fine.  
I also liked the format of the game-by-game recap of the 1963 Navy season.  It felt like being a fan who was lucky enough to attend every game of that season in which the last two months darkened an otherwise bright year for the program.
While the book was about Kennedy, I would have liked to have read more about the Army team of 1963 as well.  While yes, Kennedy was first and foremost a Navy fan, he was the commander-in-chief of all the armed forces, so the Cadets at West Point also lost their leader as well and felt the loss as much as the Midshipmen. 
Do I recommend?  
Yes, for college football fans and historians as there is good information on both the Army-Navy game and on John F. Kennedy 
Book Format Read:
Ebook (EPUB version on Nook)
Buying Links:


  1. Great review Lance! :) I'm a big fan of history, so this book sounds like it would be interesting to at least skim through.

  2. You would like the chapters on Kennedy. If you do read it, at least skim some of the chapters on the Navy players. You will learn some interesting stuff on the Naval Academy. You can skip the chapters on the actual games!

  3. I actually sold souvenirs at one of those games in the very early 60's and frankly I thought I saw Staubach but memories tend to get shaped by other perceptions that many years ago. Sounds interesting Lance.