Penn State

Preston C. Green III - professor of education and law, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Second Wind: The Memoirs of an Opinionated Man

Author: Bill Russell and Taylor Branch

Book Description:

I chose Bill Russell's autobiography, Second Wind, because it helped teach me the importance of defining my own terms. When this book was published, I was a thirteen-year-old who loved sports and school. While I was a good athlete, I was not part of the popular clique in my neighborhood because I was introverted and cerebral. If I wanted to fit in, it was clear that I would have to de-emphasize my academic side.

Second Wind taught me the importance of being myself. I idolized Russell. He was a great athlete who was also very thoughtful. He was willing to take stands on racial and political issues that did not always make him popular. I could relate to Russell because he had similar "eureka moments" reading books in the local public library as a child. After reading Second Wind, it was easier for me to be myself. While I did not have many friends growing up, I was able to develop all parts of my personality.

I have carried the lessons that I have learned from Second Wind into my professional life. I had a hard time envisioning myself as a professor—very few academics look like me. But I decided not to place artificial barriers in front of myself. This book has also helped me take stands in my research on some of the controversial issues in my field.


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