John Tolley, June 17, 2017

BTN Book Club

Listen, we understand that it?s summer, and you probably have a lot on your plate: backyard BBQs, pool parties, maybe even a little beach bumming if you can get down to the shore. But while you?re out there having fun in the sun, remember to take along a good read.

Need a suggestion? Every week this summer, BTN LiveBIG is bringing you our top picks written and/or edited by the faculty, staff, students and alumni of our 14 great universities. So, go out there and work on your tan; just don?t forget to pack a BTN Book Club suggestion in your beach bag.

Lair of the Lion

By Lee Stout (Librarian Emeritus Penn State University Libraries) & Harry H. West (Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering, Penn State University)


Cover of Penn State historians' new book Lair of the LionToday, tens of thousands of Penn State fans pack hallowed Beaver Stadium to see their beloved Nittany Lions play the type of hard-charging football that has become a mainstay of the university?s athletics. But few consider the history that is right below their feet as they cheer from the grandstand of a stadium that is every bit as iconic as the university?s fearsome prowling mascot.

In Lair of the Lion (Penn State University Press), librarian and historian Lee Stout and professor emeritus Harry H. West dive deep into the different structures that Penn State?s football teams have called home.

?The game ties us to the University,? states the introduction. ?Its traditions and customs become cherished memories. Central to those memories are the place, the stadium and the surrounding grounds.?

The authors take readers back to the turn-of-the-century to Old Beaver Field, named for trustee and onetime Pennsylvania governor Gen. James A. Beaver, during a time when college football was experiencing explosive growth. Photographs and sketches appear beside bygone cheers and collected ephemera to tell the tale of the decades of gridiron greatness in Happy Valley. Along the way, West and Stout weave into their narrative the story of Penn State itself, from a humble, hardworking land grant college to the major research institution we now know.


Penn State's original football stadium Old Beaver Field
Players practice at Old Beaver Field.

Expect to come away from Lair of the Lion with much more than an appreciation for the engineering and ingenuity it takes to erect a collegiate cathedral of football. Stout and West tap into the bind and bond that makes athletics in general, and football in specific, so central to the university experience.