#BookReview: Scrimmage For War by Bill McWilliams

Intriguing History Hampered By Lack Of Focus and Repetition. Pearl Harbor and Football. Truly, do you get more American than that? 🙂 And that is what drew me into this book, about a particular facet of the events of December 7, 1941 that I’d never heard about. When the book concentrated on detailing that couple of months, it was at its peak. Unfortunately that is less than half of the book – maybe even around just 25% or so of the book.

The rest of the book is a detailed examination of the public lives of each of the players and coaches, the last of whom died just a couple of years ago. It is within this section in particular that the lack of focus and repetition comes into play, as McWilliams describes the entirety of the events happening at any particular locale any one of the players or coaches happened to be involved in, including the WWI service of some of the coaches. Eventually we focus on what the particular player was doing at that location, but it can seem like a while before that happens at times. Further, when the players and coaches wind up in the same or nearby places, it almost seems that McWilliams literally copies and pastes some of the descriptions – not overly lengthy passages, perhaps no longer than a half page or so, but enough to be noticeable. While this is somewhat a peril of the way he chooses to serialize the tales, it also speaks to a need to edit just a bit more and provide just that extra layer of polish.

Overall this is a military history book for military historians. If you come into this book wanting to hear more about how these football players were involved in securing Hawaii in the immediate aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attacks, well, that is here – but ultimately only about half of what this book is about. The other half being the detailed military histories of each player’s involvement in the war efforts and beyond. Very much recommended within the particular niche, I’m just not sure it would be embraced in a wider audience.

This review of Scrimmage For War by Bill McWilliams was originally written on September 28, 2019.