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Breaking the Line: The Season in Black College Football That Transformed the Sport and Changed the Course of Civil Rights

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  73 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
1967. Two rival football teams. Two legendary coaches. Two talented quarterbacks. Together they broke the color line, revolutionized college sports, and transformed the NFL. Freedman’s dramatic account, highly praised as a contributing part of the movement and a riveting sports story, is now available in paperback.

In September 1967, after three years of landmark
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 12th 2014 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2009)
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(showing 1-30)
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Julie Drucker
Aug 22, 2014 Julie Drucker rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Julie by: won book in giveaway from Goodreads
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book thanks to Goodreads and Simon & Schuster. I was impressed with the authors' writing skills to be able to incorporate so much history and have it blend so well with the characters and their story. I found the book informative and engaging. The story kept me reading while giving me a history lesson without being boring or too fact filled. I especially liked the way the football games were incorporated into the story giving it an exciting flair and bringing the characters to lif ...more
Sheryl Fish
Dec 27, 2014 Sheryl Fish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having enjoyed my Sociology of Sport so thoroughly in college and having the opportunity to read books that look at the social issues of sport this was a must read for me. I applaud the jobs that Coach Robinson and Coach Gaither did in not just building exceptional athletes but men as well who earned degrees. So often college sports are a platform to the next level and the degree an option. Not the case of these football players at FAMU and Grambling. The life lessons these incredible men delive ...more
Maureen M
Feb 19, 2014 Maureen M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
OK, the author is a friend of mine, but that doesn't change the fact that this is a darn good book. The story takes us to the segregated South in 1967, when football at historical black colleges was much more than a sport. Freedman brings to life the committed coaches and quarterbacks at Grambling and Florida A&M, men whose talents were not deemed transferable to white teams. It's a fascinating work of reconstructive history,a worthy companion to "The Warmth of Other Suns" by Isabel Wilkerso ...more
Aug 13, 2013 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
p.5 All around the coaches and players, in that eventful year, swirled the crosswinds of civil rights activism, black nationalism, white blacklash, growing integration, slum insurrection, soaring hopes, and dashed expectations.
p.19 In Robinson's second season, 1942, Grambling was unbeaten and unscored upon.
p.43 In his own way, Gaither was a black nationalist, so conservative he was simultaneously radical.
p.143 Integration was the solvent for dissolving every institution black people had created
Elizabeth K.
Aug 09, 2013 Elizabeth K. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elizabeth by: The Book Beast
Shelves: 2013-new-reads
I've giving this three stars for general "good book"-ishness, and one additional star for taking a really thoughtful and thorough look at a specific, little known, aspect of cultural history.

Overall, it's about the football programs at Grambling and FAMU, two historically black colleges and universities, and particularly the year that these two teams met in the Orange Blossom Classic, in the middle of the era of the struggle for civil rights. The author does a great job of showing how segregated
Ted Lehmann
Aug 06, 2013 Ted Lehmann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Breaking the Line: The Season inBlack College Football That Transformed the Sport and Changed theCourse of Civil Rights by Samuel G. Freedman (Simon & Schuster, 2013, 336 Pages, $28.00) in a gripping tale of a season consumed with both the strife of the surging civil rights movement during the mid-sixties and the rivalry for supremacy in black college football between two of the greatest, and least recognized, coaches in football history. In telling the stories of Eddie Robinson, head coach
Stephanie Bolivar
This book was a very interesting read. It was inspiring to read about the two coaches, Jake Gaither, and Eddie Robinson who had so many obstacles to overcome, but they worked hard and never really saw their situations as a struggle. I also admired both of the quarterbacks and how James Harris decided to play at Grambling so that he could be a quarterback in the pros. I never knew that racial segregation in college football was happening for so long. I was aware that it was hard for black men to ...more
Dec 15, 2013 Yofish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-sports
We follow the football teams of two Historically Black Colleges (Grambling and Florida A&M) during the 1967 football season. Both are led by famous coaches, both have good seasons, and they end up meeting in a post-season Bowl Game. Well, sort of a bowl game---it's a tradition among HBC's that two of the best teams meet in the Orange Blossom Classic. (One of which was always FAMU, but they were always good, so that's OK.)

The subtitle of the book was a little overkill by the author, but what
Apr 20, 2013 Naomi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read my full review:

My opinion: This was such a great story reminiscent to me of the movies "We Are Marshall" or "Glory Road". In fact, it would not shock me if this story was made into a movie like The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis. The problem... there was no passion to this book. It was a flat read to the point of "just the facts, ma'am". All that I can guess is that the author, a Colombia journalism professor who has written books on a plethora of top
Aug 13, 2013 Kris10 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-books
Really enjoyed this account of football at historically black colleges and its intersection with the Civil Rights movement of the late 1960s. It is easy to root for both Gaither and Robinson (coaches we should all know about) despite their different coaching styles and their response to what is happening outside their practice fields. The players make incredible plays -- one can almost hear the fans cheering -- and it is their story as well that fills the pages of Freedman's narrative. The coach ...more
Michael Nye
Nov 19, 2013 Michael Nye rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Freedman's book focuses on the 1967 college football season and two coaches, Eddie Robinson and Jake Gaither, of black college, Grambling and Florida A&M, respectively. Both men are pulled in opposite directions by the Civil Rights movement of the era: a "steady as she goes" form of integration versus an aggressive "power to the people" movement among the youth.

This is a well-written, strongly researched book that leaps into the past to bring Robinson and Gaither into focus. The game detail
Brian E. Spivey
Aug 27, 2014 Brian E. Spivey rated it it was amazing
I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

I thoroughly enjoy this book. Having grown up within 200 miles Grambling I was more than aware of Coach Robinson's contribution to college football. I was proud to learn of his contributions to the civil right's movement.

This book is a tribute to two of the finest coaches ever to grace the sidelines, Eddie Robinson and Jake Gaither. Both men were pioneers at their respective schools and mentored and guided generations of young men and women.

Kenn Staub
Aug 04, 2014 Kenn Staub rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good social history that explores the Civil Rights movement of the mid-1960s and southern college football from the perspective of two historically black colleges (Grambling and Florida A&M). Easily readable, it gives a unique look at the playing and coaching experience at historically black colleges and how they differed from those at segregated and non-segregated institutions during the time covered. An interesting read that broadens the understanding of college football during a tu ...more
The Advocate
"There is a lot of meat on the bones of this story — the personalities and individual triumphs of the two coaches, the impact of the civil rights movement on their campuses, the highlights of both teams’ seasons — and Freedman skillfully weaves all of the elements into the narrative."
Read more here.
Frank Ogden
Oct 06, 2016 Frank Ogden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent story about the trials and triumphs of two legend African-American college football coaches. Highly recommended to learn how these coaches had to endure setbacks and prejudice during their long careers.
Mar 28, 2015 Adamdaigle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gosh, this was such a great book. I initially got it because it featured Eddie Robinson, but the book was so, so much more than that. Freedman was excellent in his buildup to the 1967 Orange Blossom Classic, but the final chapter -- the bonus story of the FAMU-Tampa game -- was well chronicled.
3.5 really. The book had great subject matter and content, some gaps that I found to be disappointing, and some stylistic elements that weren't my favorite. Absolutely worth a read though.
Michael Kallan
Interesting story about the 1967 Grambling and Florida A&M football teams which lost a bit of momentum in the second half (of the book).
Sep 28, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Very insightful. Provided a great glimpse into a very important time in history. Great read. Highly recommend.
Shawn rated it really liked it
Aug 14, 2013
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Oct 12, 2013
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Aug 27, 2014
Robert Bachtell
Robert Bachtell rated it liked it
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Matt Gatto
Matt Gatto rated it really liked it
Sep 04, 2013
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Feb 28, 2015
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Jan 29, 2017
Ivan Arcos
Ivan Arcos rated it really liked it
Sep 09, 2013
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Samuel G. Freedman is a columnist for The New York Times and a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author of seven acclaimed books, most recently "Breaking The Line," and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.
More about Samuel G. Freedman...

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