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Book Review: From Black to Gold, The Pittsburgh Steelers

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About a month ago, Michael Bean from the Pittsburgh Steelers SBN blog Behind the Steel Curtain shot me a few messages on Gmail to gauge my interest in potentially reviewing a Steelers book written by one of his regular readers.  Although an outright Jets fan, I've always considered my No. 2 team to be the Steelers.  For years it wasn't a matter of "if" but "when" the Jets failed to make the playoffs, I simply turned my postseason allegiance to the same city that hosted my favorite hockey team.  Seemed logical to me.

With that said, I wasn't exactly in the dark regarding the Steelers.  I'm an avid reader and, given the slow flow of news during the summer, always looking to add a little content to Pensburgh.

Within a few hours of agreeing I could give it a read and review, I received an e-mail from Tim Gleason, the author of From Black to Gold (not the Hurricanes defenseman), and my copy was in the mail the following morning.  Throughout the entire reading process,  I kept in touch with Tim to let him know what I thought along the way or, in many cases, to say "I never knew that" about a story he'd written about.

If you're looking for an unbiased, hands-off account of the Steelers throughout the years than perhaps you'd be better suited reading the cookie-cutter newspaper articles in the Tribune-Review or Post-Gazette.  But if you're looking for a die-hard fan perspective, more or less a fan blog in book form account of the Steelers, then put your order in right now.

Again, I'm a Jets fan.  I read (or tried reading) Mark Kriegel's book on Joe Namath a year or two ago.  Rare is the day that I don't force myself to finish a book no matter how much I am turned off by it.  I threw this one aside about 140 pages in after I realized it was basically a 500 page newspaper article.  Bland, boring and written in a fairly uninteresting perspective.  Sure, one could say that's the risk you take when reading a biography, but my interest in the subject shouldn't take a hit as a result of it.

In any case, I found Gleason's account of the Steelers in "From Black to Gold" rather refreshing.  Rather than simply write about a player, coach or owner, Gleason conducted direct interviews with a good number of the subjects themselves.  I mean, Steelers Vice President Art Rooney Jr. wrote the intro to the book after all. 

Keeping with the fan perspective, Gleason often ties in some of his personal stories with the moments in Steelers history.  He writes about attending his first Steelers game, a day when he and his father were running late so his police officer uncle game them a siren-driven escort to the stadium, having lunch with Johnny Unitas (he was almost a Steeler), gaining press access to Super Bowl XIII after pretending he knew how to drive a truck for the halftime show and attending college with Jack Lambert (even if Jack didn't know who he was).  There's also two lists: Top 13 "If Only They Stayed Steelers," and "Top 12 Playoff Heartbreaks." 

Much like any instance where I'm offered content in exchange for a review, my one stipulation is that I can write an honest, open review of the product/site/whatever.  And for those who regularly read the site, you'll notice that I don't really review that many items.  At least, not as many as I'm regularly offered through e-mails like:

"Hi! I love you!  I love the Pittsburgh Penguins!  Mario Lemieux was great!  Anyway, my friends and I make key chains..."

So consider this book to have the FrankD Seal of Approval.  If your'e a Steelers fan, or know someone who is, I highly recommend adding this book to a collection.  It's August already.  We all know hockey season is fast approaching, but so are the holidays.  Here's something to keep in mind when you start digging for gift ideas.