Paterno

Paterno

4.5 35
by Joe Posnanski
     
 

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Joe Posnanski's biography of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno follows in the tradition of works by Richard Ben Cramer on Joe DiMaggio and David Maraniss on Vince Lombardi. Having gained unprecedented access to Paterno, as well as the coach's personal notes and files, Posnanski spent the last two years of Paterno's life covering the coach, on (and off)

Overview

Joe Posnanski's biography of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno follows in the tradition of works by Richard Ben Cramer on Joe DiMaggio and David Maraniss on Vince Lombardi. Having gained unprecedented access to Paterno, as well as the coach's personal notes and files, Posnanski spent the last two years of Paterno's life covering the coach, on (and off) the field and through the scandal that ended Paterno's legendary career.

Joe Posnanski, who in 2012 was named the Best Sportswriter in America by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame, was with Paterno and his family as a horrific national scandal unfolded and Paterno was fired. Within three months, Paterno died of lung cancer, a tragic end to a life that was epic, influential, and operatic.

Paterno is the fullest description we will ever have of the man's character and career. In this honest and surprising portrait, Joe Posnanski brings new insight and understanding to one of the most controversial figures in America.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Between bouts of coughing and wheezing, the late Joe Paterno told Sports Illustrated senior writer Posnanski (The Soul of Baseball), "You picked a hell of a time to write about a football coach." Indeed, the author had relocated to State College, Penn., in 2011 and was given prime access to write what was intended to be the definitive biography of this driven man. But by year's end, JoePa's legacy was overshadowed by a horrific child sexual abuse scandal involving former Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky—a man Paterno never liked. The head coach was subsequently fired, and died a few months later. But Posnanski doesn't dwell on that last tumultuous year—he gives the man's life its full due: Paterno served in the Army, played football at Brown University, was named Penn State's head coach in 1966 (a deal sealed with a handshake), and went on to become one of the all-time winningest football coaches. He was praised by the press, became a fundraising dynamo, and made sure his players received a good education—for Paterno, college football was about "Teaching young men how to live." After the scandal broke and shortly before he died, Paterno implored Posnanski— an accomplished writer with an unenviable task—to "write the truth." The author's straightforward treatment of the case might be the focus for contemporary readers, but his fair assessment of Paterno's life and illustrious career will stand the test of time. Photos. (Aug.)
Philadelphia Daily News
The truth is that [Paterno] is a portrait very much in three dimensions. In that sense, Posnanski succeeds…We are left with this book as the final record of the final days. It is more than that, obviously - it is the story of an extraordinary life - but it is most compelling as a chronicle of the end.”
The New York Times
Paterno adds grain and texture to the historical record.... makes a cogent case for absorbing Paterno's entire legacy.
— Dwight Garner
New York Post
I urge you to read [Paterno]. . . A life is never defined entirely by a man's good, or by his bad.
— Mike Vaccaro
ESPN.com
"It is exhilirating to read of Paterno the man and gripping to read of his downfall."
The New York Times - Dwight Garner
"Paterno adds grain and texture to the historical record.... makes a cogent case for absorbing Paterno's entire legacy."
New York Post - Mike Vaccaro
"I urge you to read [Paterno]. . . A life is never defined entirely by a man's good, or by his bad."
From the Publisher
"Paterno is a portrait very much in three dimensions. It is the story of an extraordinary life."

"Paterno adds grain and texture to the historical record.... makes a cogent case for absorbing Paterno's entire legacy."

"I urge you to read [Paterno]. . . A life is never defined entirely by a man's good, or by his bad."

"It is exhilirating to read of Paterno the man and gripping to read of his downfall."

The truth is that [Paterno] is a portrait very much in three dimensions. In that sense, Posnanski succeeds…We are left with this book as the final record of the final days. It is more than that, obviously - it is the story of an extraordinary life - but it is most compelling as a chronicle of the end.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781451657494
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
08/21/2012
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Paterno { Aria }
Joe Paterno

speech to high school coaches

February 5, 1993, Hershey, Pennsylvania

What is a coach? We are teachers. Educators. We have the same obligations as all teachers, except we probably have more influence over young people than anybody but their families. And, in a lot of cases, more than their families.

To teach an academic subject is certainly not easy, but compared to coaching, it is. We can say two plus two is four to every kid and be sure that we are right. But in coaching, we have to literally get to the soul of the people we are dealing with.

We have to work with emotion, commitment, discipline, loyalty, pride.

The things that make the difference in a person’s life.

They look to us for examples. A boy wants to be a man. But he doesn’t know what a man is. They look to us for poise. Everybody doesn’t get a fair shake in life. They look to us for values. You must relate athletic experiences to life. You are role models.

They look to us for consistency. We have to realize a kid will love us one day and hate us the next. That cannot change who we are and what we are about. We are there to help them reach for excellence . . . and not just win games.

We have to be understanding but tough. Firm. Real firmness is always helpful. Bill Clinton said, “I feel for you.” Vince Lombardi said, “The pain is in your head.”

Tom Boswell of the Washington Post wrote about the difference beween excellence and success. He wrote:

“Many people, particularly in sports, believe that success and excellence are the same. They are not. No distinction in the realm of games is more important. Success is tricky, perishable, and often outside our control. On the other hand, excellence is dependable, lasting, and largely within our control. Let me emphasize at once that nobody is all one way or another. The desire for success and love of excellence coexist in all of us. The question is: Where does the balance lie? In a pinch, what guides us?”

I think we all have to ask ourselves that question. In a pinch, what guides us—success or excellence? Which will give us shelter when the storm clouds gather?

Meet the Author

Joe Posnanski is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Paterno. He is a national columnist for NBC Sports and was a senior writer at Sports Illustrated from 2009 to 2012. In 2012, he was named National Sportswriter of the Year by the Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame. Before joining SI, he was a columnist for the Kansas City Star for fifteen years, and was twice named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is the author of four books and has been anthologized widely. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his family.

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Paterno 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
BeckyBVA More than 1 year ago
If you've read about Joe Paterno in the news this year, you must also read this book. The book does not give much time to his years in high school and at Brown, but I suppose there are/will be other books for that. The author addresses the subject and I believe his attempt to write the truth (as Joe asked) is sincere. The book gives valuable insight into his interactions with his family, his players, his community, his colleagues, the university administration and the media. Overall, I also see it as a commentary on how a human is built up in our society and how quickly that pedestal can come crashing down. I have felt that way a lot recently, but this author was able to capture it in prose.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To some this book may be too soon for release as the Penn St. hopefuls are still trying to deal with the aftermath of the scandal that shook college football and Penn. St. football. To others it will show what a truly great coach and man Paterno was. Posnanski states that the focus of the book was not to defend Paterno or any others but to highlight his coaching career at State College. He does just that. Written the way only a sportswriter can deliver, Posnanski draws you into each season that Paterno coached and focuses on his commitment to Penn. St., the community and the young men that he inspired to go beyond football and pursue another life other than sports. Highly recommened and I would encourage anyone to give it a read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've just finished reading Poznanski's "Paterno" on my iPad. Whether you love JoePa or find yourself hating him, you owe it to yourself to stop at a bookstore and at least do a quick read of pages 319-321. Those under 500 words, better than anything I've ever read, get to both the heart of the man and the heart of his final days. It's an incredibly good biography in the vein of David McCullough's "Truman." The author had access to JoePa's notes and spent a great deal of time with him and his family, especially since the scandal broke. This is not a sugar-coated tribute; many critical points and controversies throughout Paterno's 61-year career are covered. Many stories - funny, sad, heartwarming, bad - are told, often with, "Joe remembered it this way and [whoever] remembered it this way." I'm ready now to start reading it again, this time in hard copy so that I can highlight passages of interest. I'm going to use a lot of yellow marker.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I first heard that this book was being published, I wasn't sure I wanted to read it, but I'm very glad I did. This book gives the whole picture of Paterno's life, not just the bits and pieces that emerged from the coverage of the sex abuse scandal at Penn State. In my humble opinion, the author, Joe Posnanski is very fair in dealing with the scandal that eneded Paterno's career, and the subsquent aftermath. Most surprising was his relationship (or lack of) with assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. I recommend this book for those who want to know about Joe Paterno, good and bad.
sab3 More than 1 year ago
Following Joe from the time I was little, I couldn't wait to read this book. This has put many questions to rest in my mind. I feel he has answered most of them and it is a shame that he didn't get a chance himself to publically say all that was in this great book. The book was well rounded from his youth all the way to his death bed. For those who doubt him read Lou Prato's write-up in the Blue-White paper on the Freeh Report!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Those looking to humanize their hero will love it. Those looking for an objective biography will be disapointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written, balanced, and surprisingly moving. I'm so glad I read this book!
Spike14 More than 1 year ago
A very revealing brook on the real personality and contributions of Joe Paterno's, not only to Penn State, but to the many individual lives he touched. Also, a better understanding of the Sandusky matter, especially the time frames involved and how Sandusky fit into the Penn State football structure, before and after his many crimes.
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I learned a lot.
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jetscrazy More than 1 year ago
While this book may not answer all questions, it is a readable and intelligent look into what really went on at Penn State. Vastly different from the knee-jerk reaction we saw on the TV news coverage.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being a fan of Joe Paterno for many years now, and being a Penn State Alum, I couldn't wait to read this book. In my heart, I know he was a Great man,and a good man at heart and in his soul. We may never know all the details of the Sandusky scandal, but I believe what Joe believed, that the truth will come out and he will be okay. I loved the stories from his youth, the stories about different players and his relationships with them. All in all, I loved this book. I laughed a lot, smiled at the Joe-isms and got teary when things got rough for him and his family. Thanks to Joe Posnanski for aspiring to write a fair and honest book about a man who was human, flawed, and also did GREAT things for others in his life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book about a great (but not perfect) man!
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Well done and insightful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must read for anybody who has an opinion of Joe Paterno