Muck City: Winning and Losing in Football's Forgotten Town

Muck City: Winning and Losing in Football's Forgotten Town

by Bryan Mealer
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Overview

Muck City: Winning and Losing in Football's Forgotten Town by Bryan Mealer

In a town deep in the Florida Everglades, where high school football is the only escape, a haunted quarterback, a returning hero, and a scholar struggle against terrible odds.

The loamy black “muck” that surrounds Belle Glade, Florida once built an empire for Big Sugar and provided much of the nation's vegetables, often on the backs of roving, destitute migrants. Many of these were children who honed their skills along the field rows and started one of the most legendary football programs in America. Belle Glade’s high school team, the Glades Central Raiders, has sent an extraordinary number of players to the National Football League – 27 since 1985, with five of those drafted in the first round.

The industry that gave rise to the town and its team also spawned the chronic poverty, teeming migrant ghettos, and violence that cripples futures before they can ever begin. Muck City tells the story of quarterback Mario Rowley, whose dream is to win a championship for his deceased parents and quiet the ghosts that haunt him; head coach Jessie Hester, the town’s first NFL star, who returns home to “win kids, not championships”; and Jonteria Willliams, who must build her dream of becoming a doctor in one of the poorest high schools in the nation. For boys like Mario, being a Raider is a one-shot window for escape and a college education. Without football, Jonteria and the rest must make it on brains and fortitude alone. For the coach, good intentions must battle a town’s obsession to win above all else.

Beyond the Friday night lights, this book is an engrossing portrait of a community mired in a shameful past and uncertain future, but with the fierce will to survive, win, and escape to a better life. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307888624
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/23/2012
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.48(w) x 9.38(h) x 1.13(d)

About the Author

BRYAN MEALER is the author of the New York Times bestselling The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, which he wrote with William Kamkwamba, and the award-winning children’s book of the same title. He also wrote All Things Must Fight to Live, which chronicled his years reporting the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a staff correspondent for the Associated Press and Harper’s

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Muck City: Winning and Losing in Football's Forgotten Town 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
RebeccaScaglione More than 1 year ago
Go ahead, and don’t believe me when I say I actually ended up ENJOYING a book about football! Okay, the main story line was about the stories behind the football team and games, but still! I was actually surprised myself when I realized that I enjoyed reading “Muck City: Winning and Losing in Football’s Forgotten Town” by Bryan Mealer. This book is very much outside my comfort zone and usual genre, but I was drawn to the side stories of the players and the city where they reside. This nonfiction read tells the story of the city of Belle Glade and the Glades Central Raiders, focusing much more on the town and individuals than football iteself. I grew up in a town called Wellington, which is just west of West Palm Beach and east of Belle Glade by about 40 minutes. In between Wellington and Belle Glade is a long stretch of highway, along which you might see an alligator on the side of the road, and pretty much nothing else. Before reading “Muck City,” I knew what most people from Wellington know about Belle Glade: At one point, the city had the highest percentage of AIDS, the town is extremely poor, there is a high rate of crime, drug use, and gang affiliation, and the classic “you just don’t go to Belle Glade.” In between freshman and sophomore year of college, I took a community college course which was only offered at the Belle Glade campus, and I distinctly remember having to convince my parents to let me take the class there. I was a minority in the class for sure, but I made two friends from the class (although I think it was partly because I was an anomaly: white, Jewish, and from the stereotypically preppy town of Wellington). The students in the class worked hard, harder than most college students I knew, because these students were working towards their only escape from poverty. I gained a high level of respect for them. “Muck City” provided more than just the stereotypical Belle Glade information. I found out about a devestating flood that destroyed most of the town and is ranked the “second most deadly natural disaster in American history” (p. 17). I also learned that Belle Glade and neighboring Pahokee provide college teams and the NFL with a disproportionately high number of football players. The Belle Glade history was what drew me to the book “Muck City,” and what kept my interest. About 25% of the book focused on specific football games and plays, which went way over my head and I had to force myself to read through. But the other 75% told the story of Belle Glade’s history and the individual stories of the students there, mainly football players but also including their families, cheerleaders, and coaches. I wish that Mealer would have provided dates more often in the text. His story sometimes skips back and forth among years and decades, which keeps the book interesting, but I found that I lost track of when certain events occurred due to the lack of dates in some sections. Bryan Mealer is a great writer, who described the surroundings of Belle Glade football in a way that kept me interested throughout the book (minus the descriptive football game plays) because of his conversational tone and valid information. "Muck City" is less about football itself and more about the city and lives of those that football in Belle Glade touches. Rebecca @ Love at First Book
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Riveting and heartbreaking portrait of football and poverty and the story behind a legendary high school program
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