Customer Reviews


114 Reviews
5 star:
 (50)
4 star:
 (28)
3 star:
 (26)
2 star:
 (6)
1 star:
 (4)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What drives Bill Belichick
Halberstam does a nice job explaining how Bill Belichick became a great coach and what drives him. In light of the passing Bill's father Steve, this book is a tribute to his father, a great coach and strategist and what Bill picked up from his father on how to win. Most people think of Bill Belichick as part of a Bill Parcells coaching tree. But this book explains that...
Published on November 25, 2005 by Mark Twain

versus
48 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating, if incomplete, look at a great coach
Considering the oustanding work Halberstam had done with The Teammates and Summer of '49, I was highly anticipating this release since first hearing of it months ago. And while it turned out be enjoyable, I just feel like there's so much more that could have been explored or explained.

The first part of the book dealing with Bill's dad, Steve, was the part...
Published on November 14, 2005 by Craig


‹ Previous | 1 212 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What drives Bill Belichick, November 25, 2005
By 
Mark Twain (Boston, MA United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Education of a Coach (Hardcover)
Halberstam does a nice job explaining how Bill Belichick became a great coach and what drives him. In light of the passing Bill's father Steve, this book is a tribute to his father, a great coach and strategist and what Bill picked up from his father on how to win. Most people think of Bill Belichick as part of a Bill Parcells coaching tree. But this book explains that Belichick is the Paul Brown to Parcells' Lombardi and how Belichick built relationships and learned to build an organization on his way to becoming a coach that wins games by breaking down an opponent as opposed to imposing his will on the opposition.

I would have given the book another star had it gone more into Belichick's personality. But Halberstam told sportsradio WEEI hosts that Belichick did not want this book to be about an ego trip for him. It's too bad because Halberstam never caught Belichick with his guard down. You have to think that Belichick really doesn't want anyone in the public to know him too well. It's almost as if there is an ending waiting be written. You don't find out about Belichick's relationships with Charlie Weis, Tom Brady, Bob Kraft, et al.

Still, it's a great read. You do get enough to understand the contempt Belichick has for Art Modell and an understanding of why he left the Jets and Bill Parcells to go to New England. His decisions, his confidantes, his championships all make sense after you read this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


48 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating, if incomplete, look at a great coach, November 14, 2005
This review is from: The Education of a Coach (Hardcover)
Considering the oustanding work Halberstam had done with The Teammates and Summer of '49, I was highly anticipating this release since first hearing of it months ago. And while it turned out be enjoyable, I just feel like there's so much more that could have been explored or explained.

The first part of the book dealing with Bill's dad, Steve, was the part that I found the most interesting. I knew that he's always been considered a superior scout, but it was great to see how he got to that point. Same goes for Bill's entry into the coaching ranks, and the preparation he did even before then to make himself into the great coach he would eventually become.

Where the book fails, in my opinion, is in its exploration of relationships. It talks somewhat of the Parcells-Belichick relationship, but there seems to be a lot left unspoken. Same with that of Parcells and Kraft, or Belichick and his current coaches, or even guys like Weis and Crennel who only recently left.

Halberstam has given what I believe is a look at only one slice of Belichick's life, and there still seems to be room for a more complete look at this great coach. I'd like to hear more first-person comments from other coaches, former coworkers, and current or former players.

I definitely recommend this book, both for the look at Belichick and because Halberstam is a pleasure to read. However, don't expect to learn much about the coach himself, as that will likely be left for another book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Belichick, Parcells, Leadership Development, The NFL and More, January 14, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
One of today's great authors, David Halberstam, has written a gem of a book detailing the `process of becoming Bill Belichick,' one of the best football minds ever in the National Football League (NFL). Belichick is the head coach of the New England Patriots NFL team and the winner of three Super Bowls.

Halberstam tells us that Belichick entered the world as the son of a lifer. He was the son of former Navy football coach and scout, Steve Belichick, who was once considered the preeminent football scout in the country. His father, however, never made much money and never enjoyed much fame outside the "hermetically sealed" world of coaching. And he lived (as did the family) with the special uncertainty of a coach - a world without guarantees. Steve felt the job of a good coach was to encourage a boy's better self, to let his confidence grow and to do it ever so gently.

Bill Belichick, well beyond his years in understanding football, went on to Weslyan, a small college in New England. While he played football, he had difficulty, as his size and lack of speed worked against him. He also played lacrosse and enjoyed it immensely, mostly because he admired the coach. The coach had no real knowledge of the game but knew exactly how to handle his players and how to listen to them and use them well. He learned then that players respected coaches who could help them play better and who knew things they did not know. Respect did not flow from a loud and commanding voice, but rather knowledge.

"The Education of a Coach" also details Belichick's early years in the NFL. When he entered the league, he had been a young man teaching older men. He needed to prove to them he was an authority figure so he remained more aloof and more authoritarian than most coaches or teachers working their first jobs. And since he was not imposing in physical terms, he would have to make up for his size by dint of willpower. He was most comfortable with a stern game face - being serious and completely disciplined. Many wondered if there was a time when Belichick ever laughed and relaxed.

Over the years, the back-channel word on Belichick was that he was a brilliant coordinator but doomed to be that and nothing more. When he got the New England head coach position, Belichick knew that this might be his last best chance.

Halberstam details key relationships and turning points in Belichick's career including the complicated relationship he had with Bill Parcells, one that was beneficial but different for both men; a defining moment with the Giants Gary Jeter when Jeter issued a challenge to a young Belichick, with Belichick granting his wish to Jeter's regret; the impact of Al Davis' rating players everyday to keep both players and coaches alert allowing no one to rest on the past; and many of uncommonly talented men who had been wonderful teachers.

Belichick is driven by brain power and by his fascination with the challenge that pro football represented to the mind of the coach as well as the bodies of the players. And, along the way, Belichick, a lifer, has always understood and taught that residence at top was a product of good fortune as well as talent, planning and willpower.

Those interested in Bill Belichick, the emergence of the New England Patriots as a NFL powerhouse, leadership development, or professional football will thoroughly enjoy "The Education of a Coach." Halberstam captures this and more.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment, June 7, 2006
This review is from: The Education of a Coach (Hardcover)
David Halberstam is one of America's finest journalists. But he's not on top of his game here. A pity: The Bill Belichick story is amazing. The New England Pariots coach has defied the zeitgeist and put together a genuine team at a time when sports are dominated by superstar egos. He has built a dynasty in an era of tepid parity - when last season's Super Bowl contender is gutted by free-agency and misses this season's playoffs. He is bold and innovative in a sport where most coaches favor cover-your-butt tactics. As an Indianapolis Colts fan, heartbroken almost annually by Belichick's genius, I was looking forward to learning how he does it. And Halberstam (whose The Breaks of the Game is my favorite sports book) seemed the right choice to tell the story. But "The Education of a Coach" fell well short of my expectations. Halberstam skims the surface instead of digging deep and sometimes makes odd authorial decisions. In writing about Belichick's disastrous tenure as Cleveland Browns coach and his unpopular decision to bench QB Bernie Kosar, for instance, Halberstam neglects even to tell which quarterback replaced Kosar. And yet he feels it necessary earlier in the book to take a gratuitous swipe at a 1950s Nashville Tennessean sports columnist whose role in the Belichick saga is peripheral at best. He barely mentions key characters such as Belichick assistants Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis - and touches only briefly on the young acolytes who are graduates of "Belichick University." Throughout part of the book, Halberstam cuts back and forth between the story of Bill Belichick and the story of his father, a legendary coach and scout in his own right. But the time-fractured narrative is confusing and repetitive. Sometimes you get the sense that Halberstam doesn't really understand football. An anecdote about a "chop block", for instance, is almost incomprehensible and made me wonder if Halberstam knew what he was talking about. There's still plenty to like here. I especially enjoyed a mini-profile of Belichick's buddy and assistant Ernie Adams - a true football nerd (like Belichick) who as a teenager once barged into an opposing high school team's locker room after a game (still in uniform) to get the coach to autograph a copy of "Simplified Single Wing Football.'' Bill Parcells emerges, as I long suspected, as a complete (but talented) jerk, whose relationship with Belichick was painful but mutually beneficial. Halberstam also does a good job describing the treacherous politics of coaching football - and how even the best coaches can be undone by events over which they have no control. Overall, this book gives you a good general idea what makes Bilichick so successful. What's missing are the detailed anecdotes and authoritative writing that usually are Halberstam trademarks.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Belichick and Halberstam go together like nuts and gum, December 10, 2005
By 
Wheelchair Assassin (The Great Concavity) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Education of a Coach (Hardcover)
First of all, a personal note: as someone who's been watching the Patriots religiously since age 11 (the not-so-glorious, mercifully short-lived Rod Rust era), I probably can't lay much of a claim to objectivity when reviewing this book. But, I'm going to try it anyway, so you may want to consider the source.

Now, that having been said, David Halberstam's The Education of a Coach is one monstrously enjoyable and interesting read. Centering around current New England Patriots coach and three-time Super Bowl champ Bill Belichick, it's not so much a biography as an examination of what's propelled one man to the top of the notoriously difficult profession of football coaching. Halberstam hasn't set himself an easy task, as The Education of a Coach is a book about a football coach that clearly aims for a much larger audience than fans of the sport--hardcore football freaks will occasionally have to put up with explanations of relatively basic concepts like blitzing--but it's still worth reading for all the insight that Halberstam brings to his subject. He's not so much examining the nuts and bolts of football, as there are plenty of books you can already turn to for that; nor is Halberstam aiming to provide a complete summation of Belichik's life in the sport, as several years of his career (notably his tenure with the Jets) are more or less glossed over. Rather, what Halberstam is going for is a view of the qualities that allowed Bill Belichick--who never played professional football and had a mediocre stint as coach of the Cleveland Browns before taking the Patriots' head job--to succeed where so many other smart and dedicated men had failed.

One of the best qualities of Halberstam's sportswriting is his ability put everything he writes about into some sort of larger context, and The Education of a Coach is no exception. By now, everyone who's paid attention knows that Belichick's father Steve had a profound influence on his son's career path, so the book starts in Steve's formative years, allowing the reader to get an idea of the experiences and ideals he passed along to Bill. There are sketches of some of the other key players in Belichick's coaching life as well--longtime assistant Ernie Adams, Giants mentor Ray Perkins, and of course Bill Parcells and Tom Brady most notably--but again, all of the biographical details feed into the larger purpose of illuminating the harsh realities of modern-day pro football and the staggering demands placed on its coaches. Football, especially now, and especially at the professional level, is a game of contrasts: the influx of black athletes starting about fifty years ago and intensifying since has made the sport faster, tougher, and harder-hitting, but at the same time it's acquired a level of sophistication that would've been inconceivable back in the days when football was little more than a glorified brawl. Pro football is now in an age where 300 pounds isn't even considered heavy at some positions, where a quarterback like Michael Vick can be the fastest guy on the field *and* toss the ball 50 yards with a flick, and where coaches sleep in their offices as a matter of course. In other words, the job of a coach has become professional in every sense, with those who climb to the top of the ladder pretty much obligated to devote their lives to little else.

What Halberstam especially tries to hammer home is the way Belichick, against the backdrop of football's geometric growth in terms of complexity and precision, managed to create a team that could function as a cohesive unit, especially given all the pressures in the direction of mounting individualism, namely big-money contracts and incredibly saturating TV exposure. Now, Halberstam does overstate his case somewhat in trying to posit Belichick as a uniquely successful proponent of the team concept--the last three NBA championships have been won by the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs, who are also known for their unselfish ethic--but his lengthy illustrations of Belichick's successes (and failures) as a coach still go a long way toward illuminating what goes on behind the scenes in pro sports. In the later chapters, Halberstam finally gets to the philosophy that enabled Belichick to turn the Patriots into a dynasty in an era where the NFL does everything it can to discourage extended dominance. Not only does Halberstam address some of the team's more effective in-game strategies (the kind that made the Patriots seemingly the only team able to regularly stop Peyton Manning, this year's game notwithstanding), but he describes in depth the New England organization's emphasis on getting the kind of players who coud be relied upon to carry out those strategies. Granted, many of the most important contributors to the team's current run--Willie McGinest, Ty Law, Adam Vinatieri, and Troy Brown among them--were carryovers from previous regimes, but what's most notable to Halberstam is how these players were made to mesh with new additions, many of them castoffs from other organizations, to create an efficient, businesslike group that valued the end result (namely winning) above all else.

What enabled Belichick to become such a stunningly singular success in such a challenging field, Halberstam discovers, is the rare combination of a mind ideally suited to coaching, a background ideally suited to developing that mind, and an obsessive work ethic ideally suited to making the most of his intelligence and training. Belichick followed a career path many of us normal people would consider insane-despite a degree from Wesleyan that clearly provided him with plenty of options, Belichick spent his first few years after college on the bottom rungs of the professional football ladder, working long hours at unpublicized jobs for little (if any) pay. But as Halberstam makes clear, even at that early point Belichick demonstrated the incredible memory, adaptability and attention to detail that eventually put him on the top of the NFL's coaching heap. Belichick has earned a reputation as the most analytical of coaches; Halberstam shows a similar gift for analysis by putting into perspective just what such a description implies and what's necessary to achieve it in the first place.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and disappointing, December 15, 2005
This review is from: The Education of a Coach (Hardcover)
I picked this book up with great expectation which initially was met. And I learned a great deal about the man and some quite inteesting anecdotes. However, the more I read the more irritated I became with the many repetitions, some revisiting the same scene within pages.

I think Halberstam has produced a very good draft against the standard I expect from him. Either his editor was asleep at the switch or he rushed the project. In either case, I don't think it serves his subject well and certainly does not reflect the discipline, work ethic, and attention to detail which are hallmarks of Coach Belichick.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Super Genius, January 25, 2007
By 
Elderkin (Rockville, MD) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Education of a Coach (Hardcover)
I don't normally read biographies of recent championship winning coaches because usually they are puff pieces to allow the coach to cash in while he is still hot. When I saw that this book was written by David Halberstam however, I decided to risk it. To mix metaphors, this was certainly not a home run for Halberstam. My main criticism of the book is that Halberstam seemed to fall in love with Belichick and portray him as a super genius even from his earliest coaching days. This grows tiresome quickly. The back story about Belichick's father is interesting but he too is portrayed as some football savant. There is very little to balance the love-fest, but fortunately the book is well written, as you would expect from Halberstam, and short enough to hold your attention.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best writers in America does it again!!!, November 9, 2006
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Education of a Coach (Hardcover)
This is the same author that wrote the "Best and the Brightest", a book that I read decades ago, that is even more compelling today in view of our country being stuck in Iraq, which is not all that different than Viet Nam. That book was the story of the men that John F. Kennedy chose to accompany him on that magnificent journey of a 1000 days, a journey that ended in the sad destruction of Lyndon Johnson's administration. Whatever subject Halberstam chooses to write about becomes compelling after reading just a few lines of the book.

Here he tackles the subject of Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots, and how this man has created a sports dynasty in an age where all the rules were designed to discourage such a creation.

The author's words flow like poetry. Even if you are uninterested in the subject of the book, it is still compelling. There are a number of reasons to read a book like this, which may be far removed from your own area of expertise, and even normal interest.

Great learning sometimes involves people going outside their expertise. In doing so, it can make for great discoveries, and finding a fascinating idea or concept that a person would never think of for themselves in their daily work. Whether that work is being a Nobel Prize winning researcher in string theory, or a gent that builds cars, the bottomline always seems to be the same. These people can then bring these new ideas, and learnings into their own circle of competence, and appropriate it for what it is they are doing on a daily basis.

In this book, you learn about getting the edge on your fellow competitors. You learn about dedication, focus, and execution. We may talk about execution in business, but in business or government, it might take years before you know the results of the project you are working on. Not so in the world of sports. You make an adjustment on a football team like Coach Belichick, and you might know in 30 seconds if you look STUPID.

Usually wherever I am I have a selection of books with me. I read on average, about a book a day. Fortunately, my work allows me this luxury. Actually when I think about it, I am better at my work for the reading than if I did something else. This is probably true for you also. We read because we are compelled to read. I read the Education of a Coach while flying cross-country, and literally couldn't put it down, that's how Halberstam GRABS you as a reader.

What is absolutely fascinating to me is Coach Belichick learning at his father's knee about football. The father was a scout who really did not make it as far as he should have in the world of football. He did have a studious and willing son who is the subject of this book. The child was desirous of learning everything his father could teach him. I am reminded in many ways of the relationship that Tiger Woods had with his own father.

Just listen to a few words that Halberstam writes of the values that the father instilled in the son, "You worked hard. You saved. You did not waste anything. If possible, you grew your own food. You did not complain. You did not expect anyone to do anything for you. Discipline was not so much taught as it was lived, as an essential part of life for which there was no alternative."

This is reading folks, compelling reading. Learn how a masterful football coach learned the game, and taught a team how to play the game. This is the real thing, and Halberstam is at his best, when writing about what's real. You will love this book, even if you don't like sports.

Richard Stoyeck
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Borderline Ok Read, July 11, 2010
By 
Geoff Howard (Halifax, NS CANADA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Education of a Coach (Hardcover)
I bought this book primarily because it was on sale. I like reading books about NFL coaches in general because their stories are extremely interesting and often hold some interesting life lessons. One of my previous reviews was a brilliant biography on Vince Lombardi. This was not that.

I had the feeling that David Halberstam wrote this book to fulfill a publishing contract. It seemed at times scattered and uninteresting. I know that Bill Belichick is considered to be a personal and not so exciting guy, unless maybe you engage him in a discussion about football. This book embodied that for sure.

It took a while to finish this book and in fact I dropped it to finish another more interesting book then picked this guy up and struggled through. There are some points of interest but frankly that is what squeaks it out a 3 stars, really it should be 2.5. I recommend this only to hard core Patriots and Belichick fans and maybe to people who like to read stories about the NFL but be warned it's not well written.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Missed Opportunity, January 29, 2006
By 
Vince Leo (minneapolis, mn USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Education of a Coach (Hardcover)
We get plenty of stories in The Education of a Coach. We get a glimpse into the interior world of coaching. We get the "politics" of management and owners. We get intimate portraits of everyone from Steve Belichik (Bill's father) to Ted Marchibroda to Bill Parcells. We get lots of soft-core football gossip with no real point. What we don't get is any strategic or personal insight into why Bill Belichik is a three-time superbowl winner.

Halberstam seems to enjoy repeating that Belichik is recognized as a defensive genius, but don't hold your breath waiting to find out why. By mid-book, the reader begins to realize that Halberstam doesn't explain why because HE DOESN'T KNOW WHY. He hasn't taken the time to figure out the xs and os and what they mean, which is extremely unfortunate for his readers, because that's where Belichik's greatness (and secret) lies.

Preoccupied with gossip, Halberstam never even comes close to identifying Belichik's innovation in the way professional football is played. He fails to notice that Belichik broke away from dependence on the highly individualized (and expensive) physical skills of superstar role players and into an extremely fluid system that depended on each member's ability to intelligently and independently "read" and react on the field. In other words, Bill Belichik not only reinvented the notion of team, he created a team in his own image, a team of coaches. The deceptive formations, hyperactive linebackers, and interchangeablility of players all stem from the core strategy of on-the-field decision-making. Developing this strategy amidst a fierce and powerful culture of superstar coaches, players, and managers is what makes Belichik a great NFL coach, whose story deserves to be told. Belichik 35, Halberstam 0.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 212 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Education of a Coach
The Education of a Coach by David Halberstam (Hardcover - November 1, 2005)
$24.95 $19.70
Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available.
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.