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And it is about the determination of those who went about changing those conditions. Michael Lenehan recognizes the necessity of context, and one of the most compelling stories in Ramblers involves the men's basketball team at Mississippi State University.

But in , the team from Mississippi State defied a court injunction and flew to Michigan to play Loyola in a regional game. They were welcomed when they got there. They lost. Then they were welcomed when they got back home. Fairly shortly thereafter, according to Lenehan, Mississippi State enrolled black students for the first time.


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In the foreword to his book, Lenehan discounts the hyperbole of other books that have been advertised as stories of games that "changed America forever" or championships that "revolutionized college basketball. Note that just before the season had started, James Meredith had made history as the first black student ever to enroll at Ole Miss.

That triggered an armed white insurrection which was only quelled after President Kennedy sent down thousands of federal troops.

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Meredith went on to graduate but was shot in the head a few years later while leading a voter registration march in rural Mississippi. Fortunately, he would recover from his wounds and eventually earn a law degree from Columbia University.

Michael Lenehan's narrative masterfully intertwines these stories in dramatic fashion, culminating with the tournament's final game, a come-from-behind overtime upset that featured two buzzer-beating shots. While on the surface this is a book about basketball, it goes deeper to illuminate how sport in America both typifies and drives change in the broader culture.

The stark social realities of the times are brought vividly to life in Lenehan's telling, illustrating the challenges faced in teams' efforts simply to play their game against the worthiest opponents.

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