Friday Night Lights, 25th Anniversary Edition: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger
Format: Paperback and Ebook
Publisher: De Capo Press
Publication Date: Originally 1990, this edition with a new afterword 2015
The Short Version:
The world of Texas High School Football is explored by following the 1988 Permian High School Panthers Football team on their quest for a State Championship.
Why I Read It:
I had been meaning to read this for ages so the question is really why did I finally read it? I saw a link to the Sports Illustrated article with an excerpt of the new section of the book which follows up on some of the people 25 years later. I only read a few paragraphs before deciding it was time to buy and read the new edition.
From the publisher:
The 25th anniversary edition of the #1 New York Times bestseller and Sports Illustrated’s best football book of all time, with a new afterword by the author
Return once again to the timeless account of the Permian Panthers of Odessa—the winningest high-school football team in Texas history. Socially and racially divided, Odessa isn’t known to be a place big on dreams, but every Friday night from September to December, when the Panthers play football, dreams can come true.
With frankness and compassion, H. G. Bissinger unforgettably captures a season in the life of Odessa and shows how single-minded devotion to the team shapes the community and inspires—and sometimes shatters—the teenagers who wear the Panthers’ uniforms.
This book is not just about the 1988 Permian Panthers football team. It’s also about the world of Texas High School Football. It’s about the city of Odessa in both boom and bust times, It’s about kids under pressure. It’s about life.
I attended college in Texas in the early 1980’s and was familiar with the intensity of high school football there as compared to other places I had lived. The Permian Panthers were a familiar name from the sports pages. I even took a road trip to Odessa one weekend (but that’s a whole different story from my college days).
I loved the television series that was loosely based on this book although I hadn’t read the book or seen the movie. As I read this it was interesting to see how the TV series used bits and pieces from the people in the book to develop wholly different characters.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Bissinger alternates sections about the players and their season with sections about the history of the area including the difficult to read parts about racism and class inequalities. It’s all there, the good and the bad but mostly the real.
The controversy that exploded after the publication of the book in 1990 made me a marked man. I had to cancel my book tour there. The anger was palpable. I exposed the good of Odessa, because there are many good, hearty, and honest people there. But I also exposed thick veins of racism and misplaced academic and social priorities.
I loved the new afterword about the author’s trip back to Texas to visit a few of the major players in the story twenty-five years later.
Twenty-five years earlier I had gone in search of the Friday Night Lights. Now, during a week in April, in Texas, I went searching for those who had played under them.
I highly recommend this book.