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October 03, 2004

Book Review Excerpt: ‘Bama Fanaticism

FROM THE HALLOWED PAGES of the New York Times Book Review section comes an account of a book—"Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer''—devoted to the rich description and explicit analysis of the psyche of avid fans of Alabama football.

The book’s title comes from the lyrics of an oft-repeated cheer.

Times book reviewers often produce articulate reviews of articulate authors, and that’s the case here. The reviewer, Franklin Foer, writes skillfully and engagingly about the author—Warren St. John.

At one point Foer describes author St. John's ear for dialogue as “a gift well suited to Alabama, where the citizens he encounters speak in a Southern fried slang that somehow never grows tiresome.”

Southern fried slang. Gotta love it.

In order to gain an understanding of ‘Bama fans, the author spent the 1999 season in their midst. He followed the team around in a used RV nicknamed "The Hawg."

St. John's book hop scotches from one interesting Crimson Tide fan to the next. He describes a couple who follow the Crimson Tide in a tricked-out $300,000 RV with speakers that blast the 'Bama fight song. They skipped their own daughter's wedding to attend a game.

That’s fanaticism.

The reviewer—and the author—comment on the complex and compelling appeal that teams like Alabama have on entire states and entire regions of the country.

Although many fans never even attended the University of Alabama, the phenomenon of their fervent devotion is forever ingrained. And the same can be said of fans of Notre Dame, Ohio State, Tennessee, Penn State, Southern Cal, and on, and on, and on . . . .

The Clips Book Review Department cannot help but recommend this book, even though we haven’t yet read it.

(this 288 word excerpt—with attendant commentary—was distilled from a 993 word book review in the New York Times of 9-29-04)