From Publishers Weekly
The University of Oregon's running coach Bill Bowerman had revolutionary ideas for his time (the 1950s, '60s and early '70s). He instituted rest days, researched training methods and experimented with runners' clothing; his runners repeatedly broke the four-minute mile. Moore, a former Olympian and Sports Illustrated writer, trained with Bowerman, and he writes of his mentor with a veneration that frequently crosses into hagiography. For example, Bowerman hazed his new runners by urinating on them in the shower and branding them with a hot set of keys, a practice Moore calls "an initiation rite, not unlike the ritual circumcision some African tribes use to make men out of boys." Bowerman was a central player in the building of Nike, although, despite the subtitle, this is just a small part of his story. The focus is on running. Bowerman was at many important moments of running history; he trained Steve Prefontaine, coached at the Munich Olympics and developed Nike's waffle-soled shoe. Moore's writing distinguishes his book from others in the running genre; even smaller races are grippingly recounted. While far from objective, Moore's work is an inspiring and touching look at the man who made Eugene, Ore., the running capital of the U.S. Photos. (Apr.)
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Bill Bowerman stands as one of the most pivotal and least heralded figures in American sport, having coached a University of Oregon track team to national championships, world records, and Olympic medals; inspired a jogging phenomenon in the U.S. that continues to this day; and designed the prototype athletic shoe that would launch a multibillion-dollar company called Nike. Moore, a former senior writer for Sports Illustrated and a world-class runner himself under Bowerman's tutelage, delivers a fully realized portrait of this complicated man, tracing Bowerman's lineage back to flinty Oregon pioneering stock, through his flaming youth, his heroics as a World War II commander in the Pacific, and his breakthrough work in developing track athletes. Moore is well positioned to detail the nuances and magnitude of Bowerman's training innovations and to assess the far-reaching impact of his career, and he does so in brisk yet congenial style, making for a biography that deserves a place in sports collections large and small. Alan Moores
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