Western History & Genealogy Blog

The Dandiest Don

Cover of James W. Johnson's The Dandy Dons.

Earlier this week, Bill Russell, celebrated basketball player, coach, commentator and activist, was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award presented by the United States. While many might associate Russell with Boston, and his long tenure with the Celtics, his collegiate career and activism began in the West with the University of San Francisco Dons.

Stories about Russell's life and his collegiate career appeared in many newspapers, including The New York Times and The Oakland Tribune. But for those interested in a closer look at Russell and his early years, James W. Johnson's The Dandy Dons: Bill Russell, K.C. Jones, Phil Woolpert and One of College's Greatest and Most Innovative Teams (University of Nebraska, 2009) provides marvelous insight about the man and his collegiate team. Johnson is especially adept at describing how innovative and challenging the University of San Francisco Dons were both as players and as an integrated team.

A copy of The Dandy Dons is a available for use in the Western History/Genealogy Department.


Bill Russell

Bill Russell has written two memoirs:

Go Up for Glory (1966) and Second Wind (1980) Both are excellent. It is nice to read books written by a "super star" who is literate, thoughtful, and played in era bofore basketball became Big Business.