Peter Gent The Conquering Heroes: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9781556113840

The Conquering Heroes: A Novel

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9781556113840: The Conquering Heroes: A Novel

Set against the backdrop of college basketball, this novel follows the lives of five high-school teammates from 1960 to the present, focusing on Pat Lee, now the recruiting coach for an NCAA powerhouse.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Gent tries to do for college basketball what he did for pro football in North Dallas Forty (1973) and The Franchise (1983): blow the lid off the cynicism and corruption festering behind the scenes. But that lid's been off a long time, and this turgid effort brings nothing new to an old story. Lapsed idealist Pat Lee, ``recruiting coach'' at Southwestern State in Dallas, finds his job on the line when a coed is raped by star center Chuck Small. Small had threatened to declare his eligibility for the NBA draft, and coach Barry Sand, Lee's one-time friend, charges him with using the covered-up rape as leverage to convince Small to stay. Failing that, Lee had better sign high- school sensation Eddie Sanford, a seven-footer whose mother Lee has been coincidentally hitting on in a hotel bar. Sand, who will do anything to make the Final Four, also orders Lee to join the bidding war for Jamail Jenks, whose high-school coach, O.K. Free, demands his own share: ``It wasn't wrong, it was just against the rules.'' Gent uses lengthy flashbacks to Lee's golden youth in 1950's and 60's small-town America to show that, despite his acquiescence, Lee may still be able to recapture his lost innocence. When the coed is found hanging in her dorm room, and when a guilt-ridden policeman who's helping Lee is found ``blown away'' in his squad car, Lee decides ``to bring them all down.'' That includes drug-store mogul Sam Watts, whose monogrammed, money- filled envelopes turn up in more than one pocket. Lee wins the day by substituting crime scene stills for the expected game highlights at a press conference, thus embarrassing Sand and Watts, getting the school placed on probation, and Small throw in jail. All the usual suspects, and their attendant vices. Predictable and obvious. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

This new novel by the author of North Dallas Forty is a gritty tale of what money and national attention have done to corrupt college sports since the 1960s. Former basketball star Pat Lee is now assistant coach of Southwestern State University's basketball team; his duties include recruiting high school prospects with promises of money, arranging for ringers to take their SATs and making his old teammate, head coach Barry Sands, look good. When the star center of the SSU team brutally rapes a student, Sands and his staff quickly move to cover it up, with the help of the local police. Increasingly disgusted with himself and with college athletics, Lee tries to figure out how he ended up on the dingy end of the moral code. The author, who played both college basketball and pro football, uses Lee's life as a model for the change in college sports from extracurricular activity to lucrative media circus. Gent's storytelling abilities and his insider's knowledge of sports serve him well in a novel that moves with the speed and precision of a well-executed full-court press.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Peter Gent
Published by Dutton, NY (1994)
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Gent, Peter
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