About the book
In the dozen years since 9/11, more than 2 million US troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Navigating the gamut of roadside bombs, harsh living conditions and frustrating internal politics, these soldiers have endured pressures and anxieties that few Americans back home could ever understand. But for many of these troops, it was college football that brought the roar of Americana to their military bases in the Middle East.
The real-life characters in these vivid stories blow off steam and stay connected to their favorite football teams back home. In "Raising the Navy Blue," graduates of the Naval Academy cheer from Baghdad and aboard a destroyer in the Pacific Ocean, as Navy downs Notre Dame for the first time in 43 years. In "The Billboard," a Sergeant describes the stresses of the job and how his platoon's passion for LSU football expressed itself upon a vacant billboard in Afghanistan. In "Man Crush on Chris Polk", a Chief Warrant Officer receives morale boosts from Washington's shocking upset of USC and from care packages sent by his future wife. Finally, in "Homecoming," a First Lieutenant follows college football via his laptop from Afghanistan while counting down the final exciting days before returning home to the States.
Derek Johnson writes with deft cultural insight and nuanced depth that gives voice to these important stories.