The Courting of Marcus Dupree was written by the noted southern writer Willie Morris. The book was published back in 1983. I first read the book a year or so after it was published. After all those years I felt a need to re-read it. I remembered it as an outstanding book. Sometimes you remember things differently than they actually were but it this case- it remains a great book.

This is a book about Marcus Dupree who in 1981 was the most sought after high school football star in America. He was a running back- 6’2″ 230 who ran a 9.5  100. He was going to be the next Hershel Walker [who at the time was setting records as a running back at the University of Georgia} This is a book that deals with  football- but it is much more and that is what makes it a great book. Dupree came from Philadelphia, Mississippi. Even today over 50 years after the events the town Philadelphia, Mississippi brings up memories of the Civil Rights murders that occurred in Philadelphia, Miss in 1964- of activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner {Marcus Dupree was born a month before the murders}  The book deals with Philadelphia’s and Mississippi’s complicated race problems and the progress that had been made in the time between those murders and when the book was written. Morris also writes about his growing up in Mississippi and his leaving- as Dupree would do at the same age.

Morris spent a great deal of time in Philadelphia during Dupree’s senior year-not only going to all of the games but one, but getting to know the town and the townspeople. Morris also got to know Marcus well and grew to care a lot about the young man and his future. Morris is also very sympathetic to the pressures that Marcus-{who was 17 at the time} had to deal with in the college recruiting war over him. Every football power in the country wanted him. Morris also sticks around after the season and writes about those recruiting battles.

One thing I noticed in reading this book that I wouldn’t have noticed when I read it back in the 1980’s-is how much things have changed since then. At times I felt like I did say in the 1980’s-reading about events in the 1940’s. In reading about 1981 it seems like a different world than what we live in today.

The book ends after Dupree’s successful freshman season at the University of Oklahoma. A great companion to this book is the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on Marcus Dupree “The Best That Never Was.” which was made in 2010. I love the 30 for 30 series and of all the 30 for 30’s this one- directed by Jonathan Hock is my favorite.

An excellent book my only criticism is a small one- there are no photographs in the book.



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