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No Ordinary Joe: The Biography of Joe Paterno Paperback – August 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (August 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558537155
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558537156
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,006,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Certainly one of the best-known coaches in college football, Paterno became an assistant at Penn State in 1950 and head coach in 1966. And he has stayed there ever since, despite offers from both colleges and professional teams. Through the years he has compiled a record of 298-77-3, but is probably more respected because of his insistence that the aim of college is primarily a college education and only secondarily a headline on the sports page, so he and his staff drive their players as hard for academic excellence as for gridiron success. Paterno no longer uses the term much, but after a couple of years as head coach he began to preach the gospel of the Grand Experiment, adding to his reputation as a friend of the intellectuals (he's a Brown graduate himself). It's difficult for an author to avoid writing a hagiography about Paterno, but O'Brien (Hesburgh), a history professor at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley, tries, although he finds few warts. The only objection is the structure of the book, which interrupted the history of the team for four chapters of analysis and details about the man and his family and then returns to the main subject in the closing chapter. It's as if O'Brien were afraid the material in that excursus would not hold reader interest.

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Very well done and thorough!
John M. Crawford
I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of this coach.
Mary Patton
I am so into this book and cant wait to inish it .
Patricia A. Kurowski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 2, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Joe Paterno looks like a geek, sounds like a Messiah, coaches like Lombardi, inspires like Audy Murphy and takes a jock sport to a level of development that transcends gland cases slamming together for the name of school spirit in front of millions of fans and numerous commercial sponsors. How do I know... I read this great assembly of Paterno in and out of his coaching shoes. If you want to be inspired, yet don't want the flag-waving hoopla of bombs and causes, this book will have you helping little old ladies cross the street in no time. Paterno's life is inspiring, dammit. He is no ordinary joe.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Justin J. Catanoso on April 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is no breezy read for Nittany Lion fans to dip into during lulls in tailgating. Rather, O'Brien's book on Paterno is a prodigious work of research, richly detailed, exhaustively documented, and persuavive in its ultimate, but not surprising, conclusion. Though the author refers to his subject as "Joe" throughout the book, he's no starstruck fan. He comes by his points honestly, much like the coach's father, Angelo Paterno, would have urged: "Think, think harder." O'Brien has produced an insightful, three-dimensional portrait of Paterno, perhaps the most complete chronicle of the coach's life ever written. Along the way, he establishes himself as a credible and dispassionate observer. There are plenty of books on Joe Paterno and Penn State football. Most are highly polished works of campus public relations. "No Ordinary Joe" stands out from the crowd as perhaps the most insightful, most balanced, and ultimately, most satisfying of them all.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sean Claycamp on June 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I have always said that if I had a son worthy of playing big-time college football, I'd send him to Penn State to play for Joe Paterno. My thoughts haven't changed a whip since reading this book. Michael O'Brien does a wonderful job in detailing the life and philosophy of one of the most colorful and downright good people to ever live.
O'Brien pulls no punches. Paterno is brash, at times mean and expects a lot out of his players, but he is also a loving father figure to players and the student body. Paterno is no saint though. If you don't produce, you are in trouble... but isn't that the way of the world. His philosophy, richly detailed in a chapter on Patero's coaching style, should be copied by the Spurriers and the Sabans of the world.
I haven't read any other O'Brien books, but I definitely will be looking for them on my next trip to the book store. This book is a quick read, but it makes you feel good about the world again when you realize that there are still people like Paterno out there that don't compromise themselves for money and fame.
Now I just wish O'Brien would write a book on Coach K because if I had a son that was good at hoops I'd send him to Duke.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Matthew P. Glusco on October 14, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It certainly is a good overview of his life. It is clearly a very positive rendition of his tenure at Penn State. Very little information about the scandal and any negative culture so it may leave some readers feeling disappointed.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Keith Oster on August 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If I had bought this book first, I probably would have been happy with the book. But as an owner of four other books relating to Coach Paterno I found this one to be a repeat of the other writings. I really learned nothing new from this book at all. Maybe I expected too much or maybe Paterno's story has already been told.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
There are a lot of biographies out there written by people who assume that simple fame warrants public interest. This is not one of them, because Joe Paterno is a truly fascinating man. Success and prestige don't often go hand in hand, but somehow Joe has made it work, and is the reason that Penn State isn't just another big-money school trying to win football games on the backs of exploited kids. If how he does that in this day and age isn't intriguing, I don't know what is. For anyone who has ever turned on a Saturday football game and wondered what possesses the guy in the nerdy rolled-up pants and coke-bottle glasses to keep going, then you have a valid question which this book can answer in a way that will captivate you, page after page. For once, we have a book about football that isn't about football at all--it's about what an extraordinary person can do to a little agricultural school to put a tiny college town on the map in the greatest way possible.
Put a thermometer to the JoePa sentiments in State College and you may be surprised that a fervent admiration that pervades the town, and for good reason. Hey, there has to be some reason we would like a guy enough to make a bean bag doll out of him...give him his own ice cream flavor (Peachy Paterno)...and put his face on mugs...and golf balls. ("Guaranteed to go up the middle three out of four times.") ...The fact is, the guy has integrity that borders on insanity, and that makes him interesting as heck.
On a final note, this is a dangerous book in that it will feed an obsession born of fandom. Be careful with this book. I have a friend, the daughter of Penn State's president, and every year she obliges me by hand-delivering a batch of Santa Joe cookies to the Paternos at the bowl games. Make sure you don't go as far over the edge as I did.
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