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All American: Why I Believe in Football, God, and the War in Iraq
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All American: Why I Believe in Football, God, and the War in Iraq

by Robert McGovern

Imagine what it's like to come face-to-face with a terrorist in a foreign courtroom—and you're the lawyer looking to put him away.

Imagine what it's like to see happy children in Iraq and Afghanistan smiling and waving at U.S. military helicopters.

Imagine what it's like to be an undersized linebacker in the National Football League, where most of the


Imagine what it's like to come face-to-face with a terrorist in a foreign courtroom—and you're the lawyer looking to put him away.

Imagine what it's like to see happy children in Iraq and Afghanistan smiling and waving at U.S. military helicopters.

Imagine what it's like to be an undersized linebacker in the National Football League, where most of the players you're supposed to tackle weigh more than you.

Imagine what it's like to be the seventh of nine kids growing up in an Irish Catholic family in the 1970s.

Imagine what it's like to be Robert McGovern, current captain in the U.S. Army, National Football League veteran, and proud member of a loving New Jersey family.

Robert McGovern has a story to tell—not about himself, although he's a part of it—but about the men and women he has called friends, mentors, and heroes. From his days in Catholic school to his years as a college and professional football player to his current career as an army judge advocate general, McGovern knows an all-American when he sees one. And in this book he introduces you to the ones he's met from all walks of life.

McGovern traded his shoulder pads for legal briefs more than a decade ago. He prosecuted drug dealers while working in the office of Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. On September 11, 2001, he was in lower Manhattan when the Twin Towers fell. After working the pile at Ground Zero, McGovern asked to be mobilized from his Army Reserve duty to active duty. He was first sent to Afghanistan, where he advised battlefield commanders on legal rules of engagement. He then went to Iraq to prosecute terrorist suspects. He returned from both tours convinced that Americans needed to hear another side of the war on terrorism—the side he saw firsthand.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
God and football are justified by the author's Catholic education and his four-season stint as an NFL linebacker (with the Chiefs, Steelers and Patriots), full of gridiron pratfalls and hymns to teamwork, goal setting and perseverance. The war in Iraq is justified by his experiences as an army lawyer prosecuting terrorists and insurgents in Baghdad, which he elaborates with strident rhetoric-"we serve the cause for [sic] peace and life, while our enemy seeks only chaos and death"-and tendentious argument. McGovern's case is simplistic and one-sided. He blames the violence in Iraq entirely on foreign terrorists while ignoring the sectarian strife engulfing the country. He insists that Saddam was a "clear and present danger" who would have attacked America if he could. Instead of confronting critics of the Iraq War head-on, McGovern conflates them with unnamed straw men who allegedly want to coddle Osama bin Laden. It all merges into a manifesto, complete with broadsides denouncing drugs and supporting the death penalty, a touch of France-bashing and jockishly cloying salutes to lawyer colleagues ("Deep down inside, John is really just a big old Teddy bear"), revered coaches and other all-Americans. McGovern's stay-the-course cheerleading seems irrelevant to the agonizing quandaries confronting America in Iraq or the results of the recent elections. Photos. (Jan. 30) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
From NFL champion to law school to New York City's district attorney's office to service in the U.S. Army as a prosecuting lawyer, inspired by post-9/11 patriotism. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Linebacker turned JAG officer McGovern delivers propaganda for the Bush administration. His ideologically driven autobiography denounces steroids, extols Ronald Reagan (under whose leadership "everything changed and it changed for the better") and explains why loyal Americans shouldn't criticize the war-which, despite media reports to the contrary, the U.S. is handily winning. Before turning to contemporary geopolitics, McGovern describes his picture-perfect childhood growing up in a large Catholic family devoted to church and the gridiron. After a football career that took him to the NFL, he attended law school and enlisted in the Army Reserves as a member of the Judge Army General Corps (he became a military attorney, in lay terms). After 9/11, he was sent to Afghanistan and then Iraq, but McGovern thinks his most significant work happened at Fort Bragg, where he led the prosecution of Hasan Akbar, a member of the 101st Airborne Division who in 2003 launched a grenade attack against the other men in his unit. One of the book's few gripping passages describes the horrible violence Akbar unleashed on his fellow soldiers. Elsewhere, McGovern's prose mostly trades in rah-rah cliches. In his less-than-nuanced view, the Iraq war hasn't included a single misstep. The U.S. is "engaged in a desperate struggle against forces of hate and repression," and anyone who questions the war has been brainwashed by the media. Once he sets the record straight, all those gullible doubters will "come to agree we should be in Iraq and Afghanistan and we will succeed...if we just have the courage to see this thing through to victory." McGovern even papers over Abu Ghraib. Although he doesn't want to "excuseaccusations of terrible crimes committed by a few American service personnel," he insists that when he visited the prison, he found it to be a bastion of "professionalism, leadership and respect for human dignity."Destined to win accolades from Fox News.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.17(d)

Read an Excerpt

All American

Why I Believe in Football, God, and the War in Iraq
By Robert McGovern

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Robert McGovern
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061227851

Chapter One

September 11, 2001

A friend of mine was getting married on sunday, September 16, and he wasn't the only one who had to get his act together in the days before the wedding. I was looking frantically for my old tuxedo. It was a formal wedding, so all the men had to have one. I eventually found it in an old suitcase I'd buried in the back of a closet. I tried it on. Size 48L, the same size I wore when I was a linebacker in the NFL in the early 1990s. Only it looked ridiculous on me now. I weighed twenty pounds less than I did when I was playing with the Chiefs, Steelers, and Patriots, so I looked like a little kid trying on something he'd found in his dad's closet.

I had to get the monkey suit altered and cleaned up pretty fast. So I brought it to the tailor's shop near my apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side. They told me to come back on Tuesday morning—Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Getting this chore done would mean I'd be late for work that morning, but I knew that wouldn't be a problem. As an assistant district attorney in the office of Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau, I had spent the last few weeks working with the New York Police Department on an undercover investigation of a violentdrug gang. I had put in a lot of hours on this case, so I was pretty sure nobody was going to be too upset if I showed up a little late that morning.

As I walked to a nearby subway station, I noticed traces of smoke in the air to my left, toward downtown. I heard somebody in the street say that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center. Like most of us that morning, I figured that a small plane had somehow lost its way and plowed into one of the towers.

I got off the subway at the City Hall stop, which is just a few blocks south of the D.A.'s office in Foley Square. The stairs lead north, toward Foley Square and away from downtown. From the darkness of the subway station, I started walking up the stairs to the sunshine. But with each step, I saw more and more people gathered around the subway entrance. As I emerged I saw hundreds of people standing in the street. I could see their faces, filled with fear and bewilderment. Their heads were tilted up, their eyes staring at some object in the sky behind me. Some of them had tears in their eyes.

I turned around. There was a horrible, sickly gash in the north tower of the World Trade Center. Smoke was pouring out of the gash. "Holy shit! That was no small plane," I thought. My head then snapped to the left to see the south tower. It seemed like smoke was seeping out of every side of that huge steel frame just above the midway point. The smoke was clinging to the sides as it slowly rose toward the top.

This was far, far more awful than I'd imagined during the subway ride downtown.

After a few minutes, I overheard some guy to my left talking about how he was inside the north tower when the first plane slammed into it. I looked away from the burning towers to hear what he was saying, and as I did, I heard a deep rumbling sound. I looked back toward the south tower and saw it collapse.

People were pushing past me as they fled the falling debris. I just stood there, dumbstruck.

I snapped out of it when I saw a huge cloud of dust and debris whip around the corner of a building directly in front of me. I turned and joined the river of people running north away from the danger. As I ran, I kept repeating to myself, "The tower is gone. I can't believe the tower is gone."

When I was clear of the collapse zone, I stopped running and began to make my way to my office. I was still in shock but knew I had to check in with my colleagues to let them know I was okay. Sirens pierced the air—ambulances, fire engines, police cars, all heading to the World Trade Center site. Through the confusion and chaos, I made my way to 80 Centre Street and up to my office on the sixth floor.

I was assigned to the Office of Special Narcotics in a building located directly across the street from the D.A.'s offices at 1 Hogan Place, and shared an office with an A.D.A. named Jon Shapiro. We were more than just colleagues—the two of us both served as reservists in the Judge Advocate Generals Corps, better known as JAGs. That we both served part-time as military prosecutors meant one weekend a month and two weeks a year. I was Army and he was Navy, so aside from the normal ribbing we would give each other about our poor judgment in picking a branch of service, it was a perfect fit.

Thanks to our military training, Jon and I knew the first order of business was to make sure our colleagues were safe. Everybody, luckily, was accounted for. We evacuated the office, and I walked home through the war zone that Manhattan had become.

During that long walk uptown, I saw men and women moving as if in a trance, their clothes covered in dust. We were modern war refugees, as shell-shocked as the men, women, and children who fled the Nazi blitz in 1940.

What kind of monsters had carried out this act of mass murder? What kind of barbarians had brought such misery to innocent people? As I made my way uptown, the numbness of shock gave way to a simmering fury. I wanted to hit back. I wanted to kill whoever was responsible for this slaughter. And I wanted to do something, anything, to help the rescue workers already picking through the rubble of the World Trade Center.


Excerpted from All American by Robert McGovern Copyright © 2007 by Robert McGovern. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Robert P. McGovern, forty, was born in New Jersey just a few miles from the Meadowlands Sports Complex. After graduating from Holy Cross College, he surprised scouts and even himself by getting drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs. He made the team, and later played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots. After his NFL days were over, he attended Fordham University's law school, went to work as a prosecutor, and brought those legal skills with him when he was assigned as a judge advocate general in the U.S. Army's 18th Airborne Corps. He helped prosecute the notorious case of Sergeant Hasan Akbar, accused of killing two army comrades in Kuwait. After tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, McGovern is currently stationed in Virginia.

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