What People Have to Say About The Baron and the Bear:
"Great book on Rupp’s Runts and Texas Western ’66 title run: “The Baron and The Bear” by David Snell. Terrific Read!"
"Texas Western's 1966 NCAA men's basketball title win against Kentucky will always be memorable — and historically significant in our society. Texas Western, now UTEP, defeated Kentucky 72-65 on a March night in Maryland. The Miners fielded a lineup that night of all-black players and defeated an all-white Kentucky Wildcats squad. In the recently released "The Baron & The Bear: Rupp's Runts, Haskins's Miners, and the Season that Changed Basketball Forever," author David Kingsley Snell takes a look into the game, the personalities and what it meant to so many. The book title stems from the coaches' nicknames: Former Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp was nicknamed the Baron of the Bluegrass because he recruited most of his players from Kentucky; while former Miners coach Don Haskins was affectionately known as the Bear for his burly physique and, some say, his tendency to growl. But beyond the title, the book is a nice read about the two squads who just wanted to play and win during a time filled with racial turbulence. El Paso native and famed college basketball coach Nolan Richardson, who once played for Haskins' Miners, writes in the prologue: "Looking back through the hazy gauze of history, it is easy to think of the story in stereotypic terms. There is the villain, Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp, standing astride college basketball, determined to protect the integrity of the White Man’s Game, yelling Stop!" "There is the hero, Coach Don Haskins, marching through the pages of history arm in arm with Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, and Martin Luther King Jr., determined to right the wrongs visited upon African Americans since the first slave ships arrived in the New World. The reality of the season is very different, the truth about Rupp and Haskins more nuanced than has ever been told. With race in the news more than at anytime since the 1960s, the story is a timely reminder of past prejudices and what some have called 'the Emancipation Proclamation of college basketball.'" The Wildcats were known as Rupp's Runts and the author does a great job of giving us a historical glimpse of the Kentucky standouts that perhaps many had not known about. Players such as Pat Riley, Louie Dampier and Larry Conley are featured, as are coaches Rupp and Harry Lancaster, who was an assistant coach on the team. The book gives a glimpse into what drove the Kentucky team and what made it so good during that season. Kentucky wasn't expected to be a great team that year after have a so-so season the previous campaign. But Rupp and his staff were able to get quite a bit out of his team that season. Basketball means a great deal to those who live in Kentucky and that is brought to life in the book. Basketball also means a great deal to those in El Paso and to those who follow the Miners. Both programs have tremendous history and expectations. Kingsley Snell also brings a fresh perspective to the Texas Western squad, which was filled with entertaining personalities led by Haskins and such players as David Lattin, Bobby Joe Hill and Willie Worsley. The unique insights into the Bear and the team are worth reading about and make you appreciate what the Texas Western squad did and everything it had to endure. The "Baron & The Bear" is an important book about an important game in sports history, in El Paso history and in Kentucky history. The two teams and two coaches are given a unique look and the author addresses race relations and what impact that game had on our country and on college basketball. The reader will love the stories about each team and the coaches. In addition, it is an easy and enjoyable read and one the reader won't be able to put down." -El Paso Times
"The championship game for college basketball in 1966 was a watershed moment, not only for the sport, but also for the civil rights movement of the time. Texas Western University (now the University of Texas-El Paso) faced Kentucky in that game. It was significant because Texas Western, coached by Don Haskins, started five black players while Kentucky, coached by the legendary Adolph Rupp, not only started five white players, but did not have a single black player at all. Texas Western won the game and in doing so, started a transformation in the game that still affects the sport today. David Kingsley Snell paints a masterful picture of the two coaches in this book that not only chronicles the season for the two teams, it sets aside some of the hyperbole surrounding the game and lets readers judge for themselves how much race played a factor in the coaches’ recruitment and handling of his respective teams. There were more similarities than differences between the coaches, a point that Snell makes clear throughout the book. While the players may have been different, the coaches both used drills repeatedly throughout practice to make their teams fundamentally sound and well-conditioned. Through interviews with surviving players from both teams, the reader will come to view both coaches as driven men who want to win all the time and will do whatever it takes during practice to make sure the players are ready come game time. In fact, many players many that the games were the easy part of the season and that practice was the time to dread. It isn’t often the that epilogue of a book will be the most thought-provoking section, but that is the case here. After the game, and even to this day, the popular belief is that Rupp was a racist because he refused to recruit black players and allegedly made racist remarks to reporters and his team. Those are refuted by players, Rupp’s staff members and other members of the press as part of the epilogue in the book. Most of these charges were published in Sports Illustrated, at the time one of the most influential publications in sports and therefore were common beliefs. Snell does a good job showing that coach Rupp may not be the vile person some thought he was. It is also noted that Rupp tried to recruit a black player (Wes Unseld) prior to the 1965-66 season but was rebuffed by many at the school as well as by the “gentleman’s agreement” in place at the time that Southeast Conference schools will not recruit black players. In the same token, Haskins is not portrayed as a champion of civil rights but simply as a coach driven to win and to do so, he will put his best players on the floor, regardless of their race. The team gelled during the season, was brought down to earth when an inferior team defeated them and then went on an incredible run to win the championship, much like any other team has done regardless of its racial makeup. “The Baron & The Bear” is an excellent account of not only the teams but an in-depth look at what made these two coaches tick. They will be forever linked together by this historic game and they are linked together here as well. Basketball fans will enjoy reading about the coaches and should make this one part of their libraries. I wish to thank University of Nebraska Press for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review."-Lsmith
"Having been fortunate to be a part of Texas Western's 1966 Team, I thought Mr. Snell did a fantastic job of bringing the 1966 Kentucky Team to life. Over the last fifty years I have read, heard and seen much about the 1966 season and title game and most of it was from Texas Western's view point. So it was nice to "get to know" the Kentucky players somewhat. Over the years I have wondered about their thoughts and feelings on the 1966 season and game. One thing for sure the Texas Western and Kentucky teams had in common was they were not overly fond of their respective coaches. The two coaches separated by age were very similar in the coaching styles. One preached DEFENSE and one preached OFFENSE. One difference they had in style was that in four years I NEVER heard Coach Haskins cuss a player. Although he had his own phrases and terms that would challenge your manhood and get inside your mind. Mr. Snell is to be congratulated for bringing a new perspective to the 66 season." -Amazon Reader
"I ordered the book from Amazon and am reading it now. It’s interesting. I had forgotten about all the racial stuff going on in the nation because I don’t think it affected me much. I had 2 babies, and I guess that was my life. Charlie Brown was playing when I was in school. I do remember that some fans quit going to the games because he was on the team, but by the end of the season, people were going just to see him because he was so good. I honestly never thought about who was black or white. My ancestors on my mother’s side are from Mayfield, Kentucky. My great, great grandfather was Judge A.R. Boone (goes back to Daniel’s brother Squire). Judge Boone was a U.S. Congressman in 1876. More information than you ever wanted to know! Is David Snell going to have a book signing here?" -M
"Read this book if you care about sports or if, like me, you don't care at all about sports but do care about how small actions can move us, little by little, toward a more inclusive, equitable and just society."-Jodi Kanter
"I’m not a big basketball fan, but I got ahold of this book through a friend. I've seen the movie Glory Road, but this book is much more complex and compelling. It paints Coach Rupp as fully human, not a demon. And the historical context behind the story is so very important to understanding this important story. This is one of the best nonfiction I've read."
"In the 50th Anniversary year of this NCAA Basketball Championship, this is the first book to report on the game--and all that led up to it--from the standpoint of BOTH teams. That seems odd, because this is, by any definition, one of the two most iconic college basketball games of all time, the other being the UCLA-Houston clash in the Astrodome that produced the only defeat in Lew Alcindor's college career. The Baron and the Bear: Rupp's Runts, Haskins's Miners, and the season That Changed Basketball Forever turns out to have been worth the wait. It is David Snell's first go at narrative history and it would seem to be his natural milieu. This is a page-turner, very difficult to put aside once begun and a compelling look at an era and at the prejudices we all brought into that era, as well as a corking good sports book. Nobody can really understand the game of college basketball today without a grounding in this story. It was 1966, the very heart of the Civil Rights Movement, and for the first and only time ever, an all-black starting five took the court against an all-white team. The former was Texas Western, not a recognized basketball power; the latter was mighty Kentucky, one of the game's legendary programs, coached by Hall of Famer Adolph Rubb, the Baron. The timing could not be better. Snell's book will be released on December 1st and makes a great gift for any and all college hoops fans on your holiday gift list. Someone will have to send Dick Vitale a copy." -J. Reiser
"THE BARON AND THE BEAR, published by the prestigious University of Nebraska Press, is an incredible true story about the NCAA championship basketball game of 1966. In this championship game, the favored all-white University of Kentucky team was beaten by little known Texas Western College in a game in which TWC fielded only black players. Not only was this game a classic David versus Goliath match, it also broke the unwritten rule that limited the number of black players a college could play on the court at the same time. Beautifully written, THE BARON AND THE BEAR is a psychological study of two of the best coaches in NCAA history — Adolph Rupp and Don Haskins. It also stands on its own merits as a treatise on basketball strategy. Set in the racially tense 1960s, David Kingsley Snell’s book serves as an affirmation of the strength inherent in determination, tough discipline, and team unity. Snell will definitely garner fans with his meticulous research and his ability to develop tension that builds toward a soaring and finely crafted denouement."-S. Harrison
"Enjoyable Book. Quick read and great account of one of the most important games in college basketball history. Learned a lot of interesting stuff about Rupp and Haskins."-Mike Steinke
"A complex and compelling look at what's been overlooked: the Kentucky side of the story---not the one sided/simple/Hollywood version. This book is filled with great anecdotes and really makes the game and season come to life."-R.B.
"This is Mr. Snell's look at a basketball game, 50 years after it was played, that changed the face of the sport and created opportunities in southern college athletics that had never been offered before.... It spotlighted the talents of African-American athletes on a national stage for the first time. It was a game of men of color from small Texas Western College, now University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP,) against the University of Kentucky, featuring a group of outstanding white athletes.... Kentucky had a showcase of national championship trophies.... Texas Western had the confidence that they were about to take one home.... I feel Mr. Snell did a marvelous job of describing what it was like that night at College Park, Maryland. I was there serving as the sports information director at Texas Western (UTEP)." -Eddie L. Mullens
"As a former Haskins player ('61-'65), involved with Glory Road, book and movie, David's book is outstanding!"-Steve T.
"Snell’s skill in interviewing has recreated the epoch season for both the contending teams in 1966, and cast it as an important American drama, when an untried Texas team from what is not UTEP, University of Texas at El Paso, then Texas Western, eventually and through many trials beat the fabled University of Kentucky team in the Final Four.
But this is not just about basketball; it is also about race since the UTEP squad starters were all black, and Kentucky had never yet had a black player, let alone a starter. Some teams refused to face an all-black squad, but the ones that did, they beat. And the reason for the excellence of both the Final Four teams was actually the same, as Snell makes clear. Both coaches, the legendary Adolph Rupp at Kentucky and the not quite so legendary Don Haskins at Texas Western believed religiously in drill, drill, drill. Snell in his extensive interviews with surviving players on both teams has caught the flavor of the times and also the dulling but successful flavor of the constant drilling. You learned to do it so automatically that you did not have to think about it, and you did not even want to think about doing anything else. As a non-aficionado, I found Snell remarkably clear on his basketball technical information, explaining how and what and when to pick. It’s not just shooting really, I have come to see; it’s how the team on the floor works together. The fact that the coaches are shouting at you may get the media’s attention, but they were just reminding you not to think, just to follow the drill. This is not a rant against racism; Rupp recruited black players starting the next year. Nor is it a Black Power rant. It is a quintessentially American story with a quintessentially American happy ending." -Amazon Costumer
"Great book! Interesting & well researched!"-lynngraham5
"I am currently reading the book, it's very good the book is well written with a lot of interesting stories. This is the type of book I will likely read again. It's that good."-Richard Meagher
"Great read. Well researched and well-written."-Arnold B. Kanter
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