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Gonzo's Summer Reading List: A Tradition of Purple

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As yesterday was the first official day of summer. . .even though it's been hotter than bejeezus here in Mississippi and numerous other places across the nation already. . .it marks the time of year where people are going to start road-tripping or going to the lakes or just taking time away from work to relax and get away from the daily 9-to-5.  To that end, it has also come to my attention that there are a lot of great books out there that people need to be exposed to, and that's going to be the purpose of my "Gonzo's Summer Reading List" series.

What I'm going to do is point all of you, the loyal Daily Norseman community, towards some tomes that I personally find enlightening and stimulating.  Ideally, all of them will have something to do with the Beloved Purple (and there are numerous great books out there about the team), but I might have a few weeks where I'll slide a few different types of books in there.  But the first couple of books, at the very least, will have a distinctively purple theme to them.

The first book we're going to have a look at, as you can probably tell by the large graphic on the right over there, is A Tradition of Purple by James Bruton.  I originally got this book in time to make an attempt to review it for the Christmas season, but with everything that was happening with the Vikings towards the end of 2007, coupled with being quite busy at home, I didn't get the opportunity to do so.  I sincerely apologize to Mr. Bruton and the book's publisher (Sports Publishing L.L.C.) for this lapse.

Mr. Bruton's book includes many unique stories, and as they're told from a fan's perspective, they're quite different from things that you might get from the mainstream press.  Starting back in 1963 when a then 18-year old Bruton approached Coach Norm van Brocklin about wanting to kick for the Vikings. . .a goal he achieved in 1967 and 1971, even though both of his stays were brief. . .all the way up to Zygi Wilf's purchase of the team and beyond, there are very few dull moments encapsulated in the 229 pages that Jim Bruton has given us.

Whether you've been a fan of the Vikings for 48 years or 48 months or even 48 days, the odds are very good that you'll find a lot of things in this book that will make you say to yourself, "Wow. . .I had no idea that that ever happened."  For someone like myself that has been a fan of the Vikings for approximately half of the history of the franchise and missed the majority of the Bud Grant era. . .remember, I've referenced here before that the first year I really paid attention to football was the Les Steckel "era" the autumn I turned 8 years old. . .I loved reading the stories about Coach Grant's temper, such as it was.  Or the story about Bud reacted to Carl Eller wanting pancakes instead of steak for the pre-game meal one week.  I won't give away the ending, but sufficient to say. . .everybody got their pancakes, alright.

However, this isn't simply a book of "insider" type locker room stories or anything like that.  Far from it.  A Tradition of Purple also highlights what the Minnesota Vikings have done over the years for the Twin Cities community, too, highlighting the work that the Vikings and their players have done for such charities as the Courage St. Croix House (a non-profit resource and rehab center for people with disabilities), the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Smile Network International, and the Shriners Hospitals.  It also includes a chapter that talks about all of the Vikings that are either in the NFL Hall of Fame or have been inducted into the Vikings' Ring of Honor.

All in all, A Tradition of Purple is a very entertaining and enlightening read, especially if you're as interested in learning as much about the history of the franchise as you can.  Bruton's style of writing is very easy to read, as well as unique and insightful.  Like I said, there are quite a few stories contained in this book that you're not going to find anywhere else.  So, if you or another Viking fan in your life needs something to read at the lake or in the car or wherever, A Tradition of Purple is a very good place to start.  It's currently available for around $18 (new) at Amazon.com, or at a book store near you (the cover price is $24.95).

I'll have another book review here next week. . .I'll try to make this a regular Sunday feature, at least until the season starts.  Enjoy what's left of the weekend, and we'll see everybody back here tomorrow!