Randy Roberts is distinguished professor of history at Purdue University.
His books include Joe Louis: Hard Times Man.
From Jeff Glor's Q & A with Roberts about his new book, A Team for America: The Army-Navy Game That Rallied a Nation:
Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write the book?Visit the A Team for America Facebook page.
Randy Roberts: I look for stories from the worlds of sports and films that somehow connect with main themes in American history. Well, some years ago I noticed that in 1944 the West Point football team went undefeated and won the national title. I thought, there must be a story there. The season was played between D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge at a time when the U.S. Army and West Point were front and center in the minds of Americans. What must it have been like to play a game while you prepared to lead troops in war? What were the relationships between the players on 1944 and their teammates who had graduated in 1942 and 1943 and were fighting in the "big show," as they called it? What did football--the most militaristic of all sports--mean to Americans during World War II? There were the sort of questions that inspired me to write the book, and since I teach large courses (300-500 students) on World War II, the questions just got the best of me.
JG: What surprised you the most during the writing process?
RR: Short answer, how obsessed I became with the topic. When I was writing the first draft I wrote every day, including Christmas, New Year's, and my birthday. I couldn't get the topic out of my mind. I listened to music from...[read on]
The Page 99 Test: Randy Roberts's Joe Louis: Hard Times Man.