Ramblers: Loyola Chicago 1963: The Team that Changed the Color of College Basketball by Michael Lenehan

A dynamic, emotional study of one college basketball team’s role in the civil rights movement.

ramblers
Michael Lenehan’s Ramblers chooses one college basketball team, and one season, to illustrate a sea change in the sport–and in the United States. The Loyola Chicago team of 1963 was not the first to send black and white players out on the court together, but Lenehan makes an excellent case for the significance of this particular team’s actions at a key moment in the national struggle for civil rights. He examines their competition over the course of the season, focusing on two teams in particular: Mississippi State, whose players had to sneak out of state due to a ban on playing teams with nonwhite members, and Cincinnati, which was also an integrated team, but one with an increasingly antiquated playing style.

Relying on primary sources and interviews to study a handful of individual players, coaches and administrators, Ramblers passionately evokes the beauty of a great game in a time of great change, and works as a metaphor for changes taking place across the nation as well. Lenehan handles the game with an ease and comfort that indicate his expertise, and Ramblers combines his passion for basketball with an intimately detailed history–including a deeply moving digression into the 1962 riots at Oxford, Miss. Lenehan eventually follows each of his subjects through to the present (or the ends of their lives), giving Ramblers a feeling of completeness. Throughout, he maintains a sense of fun appropriate to a book that’s ultimately about the antics of college kids.


This review originally ran as a *starred review* in the March 19, 2013 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish fun!


Rating: 7 fast breaks.

One Response

  1. Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It truly useful & it helped me out much.

    I hope to give something back and help others like you aided
    me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: