Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South


Product Details

$19.95  $18.55
Vanderbilt University Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 8.9 X 1.3 inches | 1.6 pounds

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About the Author

Andrew Maraniss is the New York Times-bestselling author of Strong Inside, the only sports-related book ever to win two prestigious civil rights awards--the Lillian Smith Book Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Awards Special Recognition Prize. Andrew is a contributor to ESPN's sports and race website,, and helps run Vanderbilt University's Sports & Society Initiative. He also writes nonfiction for young readers.


"I covered basketball during the years Perry Wallace was at Vanderbilt, learning firsthand the stories of so many African American athletes. Many of them were pioneers in one respect or another, but none whom I ever spoke with endured such an experience as did Wallace--as related so thoughtfully and comprehensively in this sensitive biography by Andrew Maraniss. Arthur Ashe entitled his history of the black athlete A Hard Road To Glory. No road could have been harder than Perry Wallace's, no glory more satisfying."
--Frank Deford, NPR, HBO, and Sports Illustrated contributor
"Andrew Maraniss has written a gripping account of the tortured ordeal suffered by Perry Wallace, the celebrated college basketball star, who, in 1966, as a Vanderbilt Commodore, broke the color barrier in the Southeastern Conference. It is a story of a young black student's courage in the face of taunting abuse from hostile opposing fans--and the dissension that faced him on the Vanderbilt campus."
--John Seigenthaler, Founder, First Amendment Center
"Andrew Maraniss's father, David, once said, 'History writes people out of the story. It's our job to write them back in.' In the case of Perry Wallace, Andrew has done that superbly. He writes with equal ability of race and class, talent and ambition, and the possibilities and limits of each. I did not know Perry Wallace's story. Andrew has brought it to us, and we should be happy he did."
--Howard Bryant, author of The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron
"What Perry Wallace accomplished in breaking the color line in the Southeastern Conference has been one of the great untold stories of the last 50 years. Now, thanks to Andrew Maraniss and Professor Wallace, it has become one of the great TOLD stories of the last 50 years with this unforgettable book."
--John Feinstein, author of Foul Trouble and Where Nobody Knows Your Name
"In a magnificently reported, nuanced but raw account of basketball and racism in the South during the 1960s, Andrew Maraniss tells the story of Perry Wallace's struggle, loneliness, perseverance and eventual self-realization. A rare story about physical and intellectual courage that is both shocking and triumphant."
--Bob Woodward, Washington Post associate editor and author
"Like any great biography, Strong Inside is about more than just its subject. It is a history of Vanderbilt, of Nashville, of the SEC; a history of basketball and Southern sports culture and how they clashed, time and again, with the forces of civil rights that transformed America in the 1960s. Above all it is a meditation on the personal price of progress, about what happens to the people we ask to be racial pioneers, and what we--as whites, as blacks--owe to them in return."
--Clay Risen, Chapter 16 contributor and New York Times editor
"With insight into the motivation and maturing of an African American man amid rabid hostility in the age of desegregation, Maraniss presents social and sports historians and interested readers with an engaging tour that exposes the challenges of change in the South and in college sports with the arrival of black athletes center stage in the white world."
--Library Journal
"Nuanced and complex, Strong Inside is an invaluable resource for studying the state of race relations in the US, both past and present...Highly recommended."
"It is at the dawn of a tumultuous era that Andrew Maraniss sets Strong Inside, a heartbreaking work of staggering genius."
--SLAM Magazine
"A dark but finally inspiring story that can now be told in perspective, and Maraniss tells it thoroughly well."
--Roy Blount Jr.
"...thorough and engaging...a long-overdue tribute to this little-known player."
--Washington Post
"...a thoroughly researched and compelling account of Perry Wallace...As much history lesson as biography, Maraniss's account paints a detailed picture of the civil rights movement on several levels: in gymnasiums, on campuses, in Nashville, and across the nation...The combination of sports and sociopolitical history will appeal to both basketball fans and students of civil rights."
"...powerfully told..."
--New York Times