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Aliquippa, Pennsylvania is famous for two things: the Jones and Laughlin Steel mill, an industrial behemoth that helped win World War II; and football, with a high school team that has produced numerous NFL stars, including Mike Ditka and Darrelle Revis. But the mill, once the fourth largest producer in America, closed for good in 2000. What happens to a town when a dream dies? Does it just disappear?
In Playing Through the Whistle, celebrated sports writer S. L. Price tells the story of this remarkable place, its people, and its players and, through it, a wider story of American history from the turn of the 20th century.
Aliquippa has been many things - a rigidly controlled company town, a booming racial and ethnic melting pot, and, for a brief time, a workers' paradise. Price expertly traces this history while also recounting the birth and development of high school sports, from a minor pastime to a source of civic pride to today, when it sometimes seems like the only way out of a life of poverty, drug abuse, and crime. Playing Through the Whistle is a masterpiece of narrative journalism that will make you cry and cheer in equal measure.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By radchick on 04-19-17
This is not a football book
Do not be fooled, this is not a book about football. It is a touching history of the USA Steel mill towns. What it meant to live football. So many famous, and interesting people came from Aliquippa. It's a history of America, the unions, the gangs, and the breakdown of the American family...no this is one of the best surprises I have found! Thanks to my husband who recommended it, and to John his friend who have it to him as s gift.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By George on 12-12-16
From an expat
I grew up in Hopewell. Graduated from Hopewell High . (As did Tony Dorsett who figures prominently in this book). Worked on the A&S railroad and J&L coke ovens in the 70s. I had moved away by 1980, but my parents, grandmother and brother remained until recently. There was a lot of good about the Aliquippa of my childhood/adolescence and this book does a decent job describing times before the mill shut down. To me, the most compelling question to come out of the Aliquippa experience is why did the closing of J&L have such a devastating impact on a once proud community long grounded on honest, hard work. This book doesn't really address that profound issue. For that reason, I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone. It does contain a lot of factual information about Quip football and the nature of the violence that prevailed after J&L closed. Therefore, I would recommend it for those, including me, with a special interest in Quip football and in the town itself. For those seeking a broader understanding of the collapse of the American steel industry and why devastation (as opposed to resilience/adaptation) ensued, this book provides very little insight. The narration is less than stellar. There are a number of mispronunciations which locals will likely find distracting.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful