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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paterno revealed shows depth behind his Buddy Holly glasses.
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...
Published on October 2, 1998

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't Buy This One if you Own Other Paterno Books
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.
Published on August 31, 2000 by Keith Oster


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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paterno revealed shows depth behind his Buddy Holly glasses., October 2, 1998
By A Customer
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Paterno in 3-D, April 27, 2000
By 
This review is from: No Ordinary Joe: The Biography of Joe Paterno (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Great subject matter makes a great book., June 7, 2001
By 
Sean Claycamp (overland park, ks) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Joe Pa, October 14, 2012
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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
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't Buy This One if you Own Other Paterno Books, August 31, 2000
By 
Keith Oster (Palm Harbor, FL United States) - See all my reviews
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Take that, Beano Cook!, June 29, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: No Ordinary Joe: The Biography of Joe Paterno (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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3.0 out of 5 stars Before the Fall, December 9, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: No Ordinary Joe: The Biography of Joe Paterno (Paperback)
Obviously things have changed in the way we understand this guy. That said, O'Brien's book is an interesting look at the way we felt about Paterno before the scandal.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I bought this as a gift., July 29, 2013
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This review is from: No Ordinary Joe: The Biography of Joe Paterno (Paperback)
I bought this as a Christmas gift for my brother in law.
He is a fan of this coach. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of this coach.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well balanced look at Joe Paterno and the politics of college football., April 18, 2006
For most sports fans, the name Joe Paterno is a familiar one. The images conjured up by the name may vary...some see a living god while others see a need for change. Regardless of your views, this book is informative and well balanced. As a loyal Penn State fan, I found this book to be well written and objective. The writing style is not too stuffy or "textbook" like, yet the author is able to remain insightful as well as entertaining. This book focuses on the work of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno during the 2004 season; the bulk of the story is a tale of the ups and downs that took place during that season. However, there is also a great deal of exposition when it comes to the privilige, politics, and power of Division I college football. In some sections of the story, Penn State University and the town of State College, PA become a unique world where attitudes can change like the seasons. What I found to be the most informative was the description of Paterno's interactions with the media.

Joe Paterno's life serves as an interesting character study. Mostly because of his actions and the way that he has oriented his life around the university and the athletic program. This book does not force its hand by telling you how to feel about Joe, instead it describes the situation and leaves you to draw your own conclusions. There is some obvious admiration for Paterno, but it does not reach the point of being one-sided.

I would recommend this book for all college football fans. If nothing else, this story serves as an informative piece about the "hidden" side of commercialization and college sports.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take that, Beano Cook!, June 29, 2000
This review is from: No Ordinary Joe: The Biography of Joe Paterno (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.") And there has to be something about a guy who would give up a $1.4 million coaching contract with the Boston Patriots to keep a $35,000 job in Happy Valley. 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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No Ordinary Joe: The Biography of Joe Paterno
No Ordinary Joe: The Biography of Joe Paterno by Michael O'Brien (Paperback - August 1, 1999)
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