War as They Knew It

What are you reading?

War As They Knew It: Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, and America in a Time of Unrest, by Michael Rosenberg. It’s about the Ohio State–Michigan football rivalry during the era of those coaches. I’m from Columbus, so Ohio State, where Hayes coached, is in my hometown. It’s not just a sports book, though; it’s as much about the society on the two campuses as it is about football. The coaches, Hayes and Schembechler, were kind of ‘50s guys dealing with the ‘60s youth culture, and the book explores how they had to adapt, how they dealt with anti-war protests. Columbus was a lot more conservative; the University of Michigan was, as far as the protest stuff, like the Berkeley of the Midwest. Also, the book goes into how the coaches added black players — it starts getting into Civil Rights. It’s obviously nonfiction, but the writer writes it almost like a novel.”

Compare it to other books you’ve read.

“I’m kind of interested in post-WWII history; there was so much societal change. It’s kind of hard to compare this book to others; I’ve never seen a sports book set in that particular era that’s so well adapted. But other sports books have also focused on society. There was a great book that came out about Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion, called Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson. That covered the time around the early 1900s, when there was a lot of repression.”

Who is your favorite author?

“I really like James Michener. He does a lot of historical stuff, like the novel Poland, and growing up, I enjoyed his work.”

What book has been most life-changing for you?

“There’s a book I really liked as a kid — it was a project for our literature class in junior high — The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton. We went over it for, like, two months, dissecting it, doing scenes from it — I have fond memories of that. It was about societal clash; I believe it took place in Tulsa in the early ‘60s. There are greasers — some orphan kids being raised by their brother — and they have a culture clash with the wealthier kids, the Socs. Francis Ford Coppola made a movie out of it, and the screenplay followed the book’s dialogue almost completely.”

What magazines or newspapers do you read?

“I read Rolling Stone. USA Today is almost a digest, but they have a sports section that sometimes has some bright things. I’ll get the Union-Tribune if there’s a local thing I’m interested in, but they’ve cut back so much. The L.A. Times is probably one of the best papers for international stuff, and even nationally, they still have the big bureaus. And if someone in the entertainment business passes away and I want to read an obituary, I know they’ll have something because it’s the paper for that town. When Karl Malden — one of our greatest actors ever — passed away, I wanted a more in-depth read, and the L.A. Times did almost two full pages.”

Name: Dan Dolezal | Age: 46 | Occupation: Litigation support technician | Neighborhood: Imperial Beach | Where interviewed: Borders Books, National City

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