Shake Down The Thunder

( 1 )

Overview

"Sperber...tackles the details, great and small, unearthing a treasure."
—New York Times Book Review

Shake Down the Thunder traces the history of the
Notre Dame football program—which has acquired almost mythical proportions—from its humble origins in the 19th century to its status as the paragon of college sports. It presents the true story of the program's formative years, the reality behind the myths. Both social history and sports history, this book documents as never before...

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Overview

"Sperber...tackles the details, great and small, unearthing a treasure."
—New York Times Book Review

Shake Down the Thunder traces the history of the
Notre Dame football program—which has acquired almost mythical proportions—from its humble origins in the 19th century to its status as the paragon of college sports. It presents the true story of the program's formative years, the reality behind the myths. Both social history and sports history, this book documents as never before the first half-century of Notre Dame football and relates it to the rise of big-time intercollegiate athletics, the college sports reform movement, and the corrupt sporting press of the period. Shake Down the Thunder is must reading for all Fighting Irish fans, their detractors, and any reader engaged by American cultural history.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Northern Indiana Lakes Magazine
"A must-read for Fighting Irish fans, their detractors, or anyone interested in American cultural history." —Northern Indiana Lakes
Northern Indiana Lakes

"A must-read for Fighting Irish fans, their detractors, or anyone interested in American cultural history." —Northern Indiana Lakes

From the Publisher
"A must-read for Fighting Irish fans, their detractors, or anyone interested in
American cultural history." —Northern Indiana Lakes
Library Journal
Sperber (English, Indiana Univ.) chronicles Notre Dame and its football dynasty, from the institution's early days as a small school founded by French priests to the hiring of coach Frank Leahy in 1941. He covers not only the university's football program but the anti-Catholicism and the academic/athletic issues of the period. For the most part, however, he focuses on one man and his tremendous influence upon American sports: Knute Rockne. Sperber skillfully compiled this work by poring through previously uncataloged archival papers, which included Rockne's personal correspondence. Other vibrant personalities, such as Father John O'Hara and Grantland Rice, are also examined, as are the discrepancies between reality and myth in such campus legends as the ``win one for the Gipper'' speech and the Notre Dame victory march. This volume is destined to become a sports classic. For most collections.-- Albert Spencer, Coll. of Education, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas
Kirkus Reviews
Sperber (English and American Studies/Indiana University; College Sports Inc., 1990) does in this exceptional, exhaustive history of Notre Dame football what he does best: dash myths and penetrate to systemic corruption and hypocrisy, all the while maintaining an implicit love for collegiate athletics. Using a cache of previously unexamined correspondence and athletic department files dated 1909-34, Sperber starts with the school's origins in the 1840's and continues through 1941. He attributes Notre Dame's football success in part to the independence it gained through its repeated rejection by the Western Conference and by the school's "unique culture of athleticism." Included are fascinating anecdotes about the scheduling and playing of the great Michigan and Army games (the latter of which, contrary to legend, came about because the cadets had become "pariahs" by flouting standard eligibility rules); the "Fighting Irish" nickname, the fight song, the cheers, and the mascot; the making of the film "Knute Rockne—All-American"; the Catholic school's battles with the KKK and other "anti-papists"; and the corruption of journalists, officials, and coaches like "Pop" Warner, who frequently pocketed gate receipts. Sperber addresses what he calls Notre Dame's "historic dilemma...the tension between its athletic prominence and its academic aspiration." Most telling is his look at the Knute Rockne myth. Sperber finds Rockne to be a man so concerned with "the decline of American masculinity" that he had no qualms about publicly humiliating those he saw as less than "he-men." As the record and the testimony show, Rockne wasn't universally mourned when he died in that 1931 plane crash.His greatness as a coach, however, and as a football innovator, are given their just due here, though also placed in a realistic historical perspective. Quite an achievement: a monumental work of scholarship in both sports and social history. (Eight pages of photographs—not seen).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253215680
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2002
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 664
  • Sales rank: 996,691
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Murray Sperber is Professor of English and American Studies at Indiana University and author of Beer and Circuses: How Big-Time College Sports Is Crippling Undergraduate
Education.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Indiana
Edition
Acknowledgments
Introduction

I. "What Though the Odds Be
Great or Small": 1789-1918
1. L'Universite de Notre Dame du Lac and the Nineteenth
Century
2. The Origins of Notre Dame's Athletic Culture
3. Catholic versus
American Higher Education
4. The Origin of "The Notre Dame Victory March"
5. Notre
Dame Sports: 1900-1912
6. Jesse Harper: 1913 and the First Army Game
7. Jesse
Harper: 1914 and the Finances of College Football
8. Jesse Harper: 1915-1917 and the
Job of Athletic Director
9. Jesse Harper's Assistant: Knute Rockne

II.
Shaking Down the Thunder: 1918-1931
10. Catholic versus American Higher Education in the 1920s
11. The Growth of the Athletic Culture
12. The Origin of the Fighting
Irish Nickname
13. Rockne at Ground Zero: 1918-1919
14. Rockne's
Rocket-First Version: 1920
15. George Gipp's Five Seasons at Notre Dame
16.
The Rocker Crashes-Rockne's Miraculous Escape: 1921
17. Building a Better Rocket:
1922
18. On the Launch Pad: 1923
19. Notre Dame versus Klandiana:
1924
20. Blast-off: 1924
21. The Four Horsemen-Grantland Rice versus
Reality
22. Rockne Threatens to Jump Ship: 1925
23. Anti-aircraft Fire from the Big Ten: 1926
24. Knute K. Rockne Inc.
25. Anti-aircraft Fire from College
Sports Reformers: 1927
26. Al Smith and "Win One for the Gipper": 1928
27. Rockne
Attacks the College Sports Reformers: 1929
28. Rockne's Last and Greatest Rocket:
1930
29. The Death of Reform and Rockne: 1931

III. "Rally Sons of Notre
Dame": 1932-1941
30. In the Depression: 1931-1941
31. After
Rockne
32. The Demand for Perfection: 1932
33. The Removal of a Vice President and the First Firing of a Notre Dame Head Coach: 1933
34. O'Hara and Layden Assume Power:
1934-1936
35. O'Hara and Layden in Power: 1937-1939
36. Beginning Knute
Rockne-All American: 1939
37. Filming Knute Rockne-All American: 1940
38.
The End of the Rockne Era: 1940
39. The End of the Creation of Notre Dame Football:
1941
Epilogue
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Indiana University Press

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2006

    Great Read For ND Fans

    This book was great. If you love ND football, then this book is for you!!! Majority of the book talks about Rockne's career at ND which is great!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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