More than eight decades after his death, George Gipp is still regarded by football historians as Notre Dame s best all-around player. And it was Gipp and his legendary coach, Knute Rockne, who were largely responsible for putting the small Midwestern all-male school on the map.
Like Cavanaugh s other critically acclaimed books, The Gipper is also a period piece, with a considerable focus on the era before, during, and immediately after WWI. It details the changes that the country underwent during that time, including the onset of Prohibition and the gangs that it spawned in the Midwest such as those active in the South Bend area and in nearby Chicago, headed by the notorious Al Capone."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-01-03
- Reviewer: Staff
It's not surprising that the more one gets to know George Gipp, the less like a hero he seems. A high school drop-out, he spent much of his time at Notre Dame cutting class, playing semi-pro ball under assumed names, hustling pool, and engaging in high-stakes gambling. Cavanaugh organizes his research well and says what he can about Gipp's personal life, but rightly focuses on the young man's astounding athleticism. Nearly a century on, Gipp still holds the Notre Dame record for most yards per carry in a season, most career total yards for a non-quarterback, and the longest field goal; he never allowed a pass to be completed to the man he was covering (though as teams tended to have few passes per game in those days, this is less impressive than it might seem), and is regarded by most historians as the school's best all-around player. His death in 1920 at the age of 25 (having never completely recovered from the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918) leaves Cavanaugh to fill out his effort with stories of Coach Rockne and Notre Dame's colorful early football days, all placed into the larger context of a country dealing with great tragedies. (Oct.)