Forty Minutes of Hell
The Extraordinary Life of Nolan Richardson
By Rus Bradburd
(Amistad, Paperback, 9780061690471, 336pp.)
Publication Date: February 2011
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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Born in El Paso's Segundo Barrio, Nolan Richardson was the first black star for legendary basketball coach Don Haskins at Texas Western College. Rising to national prominence at the University of Arkansas, Richardson became the first black coach at a Southern school to win the NCAA Championship, playing an electrifying style dubbed Forty Minutes of Hell. His outspoken response to perceived racial injustices culminated in Richardson's accusing his university of discrimination, bringing about an abrupt end to his college career. The only coach in history to win a Junior College, NIT, and NCAA title, Richardson now coaches in the WNBA.
Rus Bradburd, a former assistant coach under Don Haskins, highlights Richardson's trailblazing career with empathy and intimacy, revealing a man whose hard-won successes were matched by deeply felt losses. An inside look at the politics of race in college sports, Forty Minutes of Hell sets Richardson's complex story against the backdrop of a decisive time in American history.
Rus Bradburd's fiction has appeared in the Southern Review, the Colorado Review, and Aethlon, and his essays have appeared in SLAM magazine, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Houston Chronicle. The author of Paddy on the Hardwood, Bradburd is an assistant professor at New Mexico State University.
“[An] energetic biography. . . . Bradburd rounds out his story with humanizing detail.”
“Highly provocative. . . . A sharp-elbowed biography.”
-New York Times
“[An] excellent, angry new biography.”
“There are so many amazing things to know and remember about Richardson, truly a sports hero and pioneer. . . . But Richardson’s life was about more than wins and losses, as Bradburd details in excellent and entertaining style.”
“Suggestion: Place a note pad nearby . . . in order to keep score of the ‘wow’ moments, as in ‘Wow, did that really happen? . . . Thanks to Bradburd’s book, you can walk in Richardson’s shoes, one page at a time.’”
“Bradburd does an incredible job chronicling Richardson’s rise from a high school coach to getting a junior college job. . . . [His] copy shines in the well-researched chapters on the black coaches and the athletes who came before Richardson but never got the opportunity to elevate themselves.”
“A combination career retrospective and racial history of Southern college basketball . . . Establishes Richardson as one of college basketball’s most compelling figures, both because of and in spite of his race.”
“I’ve never read a sports book I would describe as operatic until now. Nolan Richardson’s story, both unique and universal, would challenge the most seasoned biographer, but Bradburd’s libretto is heartbreaking and inspiring. This is the finest sports biography I’ve read in years, hands down.”
-Dave Zirin, author, A People's History of Sports in the Unites States
“What an incredible journey!”
-President Bill Clinton
“This is a great story about America and its hidden histories. . . Every black college coach with a good job today owes Nolan Richardson a measure of respect for the fearless way he kicked down doors. Every American should thank him for showing us it was possible.”
-Charles Barkley, basketball legend
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