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Best of Rivals: Joe Montana, Steve Young, and the Inside Story behind the NFL's Greatest Quarterback Controversy Hardcover – August 28, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Booklist, September 2012
“Lazarus provides solid backstory…Readers might be surprised to see how imperfect these great players (and their hallowed wide receiver Jerry Rice) could be in the heat of competition, but also to see the class with which these preternaturally competitive men handled their situation. Instructive as well as informative.”

Deseret News, 9/16/12
“As exciting to read as watching your two favorite teams playing in a close back-and-forth game that leaves you wondering who to root for…[Lazarus] brings the story to life by taking the reader behind the scenes of professional football…For anyone who follows football, Best of Rivals is a great read. It has all the drama of a weekend afternoon game plus inspiring inside stories of athletes dedicated to reaching perfection.”

Publishers Weekly, 11/5/12
“This richly detailed history of two vastly different quarterbacks…relies on detailed game accounts from the period, as well as interviews with both quarterbacks, and former teammates and coaches to capture this one-of-a-kind quarterback controversy.”

From the Back Cover

Advance praise for BEST OF RIVALS 

"Lazarus does a very good job explaining the dynamic of the Joe Montana-Steve Young competition of the 49ers heyday. I was particularly interested in this book because of the stiff competition those two provided to my teams." 
--Bill Parcells, two-time Super Bowl winning head coach 

"A fascinating look at one of the breathtaking one-on-one battles in NFL history. Young? Montana? Adam Lazarus takes two all-time greats and, against all odds, makes you pull 
for both of them. Wonderfully done." 
--Jeff Pearlman, author of the New York Times bestseller Boys Will Be Boys 

"[Best of Rivals] is a must-read for 49ers fans of all ages. You will smile, cringe, and curse, then you will nod at the enduring lesson that, at some point, even the greatest of the greats will be replaced--whether they're ready or not." 
--Jim Trotter, senior writer for Sports Illustrated 

"Lazarus did an excellent job of showcasing the character of these two Hall of Fame quarterbacks, who had so much in common with their great skills, but were so very, very different in terms of personalities and their approach to the game." 
--Joe Starkey, former play-by-play voice of the San Francisco 49ers 

"It wasn't just that Joe and Steve won Super Bowls; it was that Joe and Steve were can't-miss theatre. The highs--and more importantly, the lows--of their careers and rivalry are important reading for anybody who loves the 49ers and their rich history." 
--Brian Murphy, sports radio host on San Francisco's KNBR 

"The ultimate story of pro football's ultimate rivalry, Adam Lazarus pulls us back to a golden era by the Golden Gate when to Niner fans Joe Montana was the nearest thing to a god and Steve Young's only fault was he wasn't Joe Montana." 
--Art Spander, Pro Football Hall of Fame writer 

"It seems like a fine idea to have two great quarterbacks on your roster, at least until Sunday when only one of them gets to play. Adam Lazarus takes you inside the dynamic but difficult partnership that was the Joe Montana-Steve Young era in San Francisco." 
--Ray Didinger, Pro Football Hall of Fame writer

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (August 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306821354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306821356
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #772,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Craig VINE VOICE on March 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
As a fan of sports history, I've been looking forward to reading this book. I remember well the era of Montana/Young, and even living in the Midwest during the pre-Internet era we were all well aware of the controversy associated with having two HOF-caliber quarterbacks on the same team. Lazarus does not disappoint, presenting a well-balanced and unbiased review of this period.

Both Montana and Young come across as good guys who have their faults. There is no hagiography, while at the same time the author doesn't spend his time trying to unfairly rip into either quarterback for what they do on-field and off-field. With each of them, he briefly talks about their younger years, and spends some time reviewing their impressive college careers. The majority of the book, though, is focused on their professional careers and their eventual coming together as 49ers. It was interesting to read some of the comments from both players regarding their respective roles, to see Montana's willingness to play through injuries and to see Young's deep desire to get on the field while still respecting Montana's greatness. The other main players in the book are the quarterbacks' teammates and the the 49ers' coaching staff, and again Lazarus' unbiased presentation of their comments and actions makes for an excellent read.

There's a real shortage of excellent football history books out there, with notable exceptions like McCambridge's America's Game or Bissinger's Friday Night Lights, while baseball has a whole pantheon of great historical works. Hopefully with efforts like this one from Lazarus, America's most popular sport will one day have the rich review of history that it deserves.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One thing that needs to be cleared up right now, Steve Young and Joe Montana never hated each other in 6 years as teammates and don't now. Was there tension at times? Of course there was. But it was not as bad as some may think. That is entirely the media's fault but the media always wants to sensationalize stories. That's what they do. The book goes into game by game accounts from 1987 on, even following Joe to Kansas City. It covers Youngs 1994 season as well, going into part of 1995 before a very bizarre epilogue. But that aside I recommend this book. It goes back to a period of time unique in NFL history, two hall of fame quarterbacks on the same team and everything that happened during that time. I doubt we will see anything like it again.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was designed for a certain audience. If you lived through the 1980s and 1990s, witnessed the entire storyline unfold before your eyes, maybe this book isn't for you. But if you don't remember much from it or were born after the battle ended, this is the perfect book.

For me, I knew all the details I needed to know about this story so I was curious as to what the book would provide me. Inside, it's filled with quotes from newspaper writers, film interviews archived over the past 30 years from key figures in the story. From coach Bill Walsh to teammates Jerry Rice and Dwight Clark, this book made you feel like you were living through the entire experience in the locker room in under 300 pages.

It read like a history book to me. And I like that. Instead of a storyline, it was more of pages filled with details on Montana's injury and quotes from teammates on the QB battle. That's what it gave me. But instead of reading through it like a documentary, the book instead gave me facts and details. I learned a lot more about Montana's injuries and it gave me perspective on the challenge the coaches had to deal with for both players.

Would this be a book I recommend for 49ers fans? Absolutely. But is this a must read book for them? Not necessarily.

I think the best way to describe this book is that it gives you the history of the rivalry. Plain and simple, the book takes you back to 1979 and from there, you're watching 15 years of 49ers history unfold before your eyes. From there, you're seeing all the action and emotions from all angles in the quarterback battle.

If you've seen the story before, then you can pass on it. But if you want to go down memory lane one more time and relive the glory and pain of the 49ers and the cornerstone of their success, the book is worth a read. There, the myth and legend of these two quarterbacks' struggle becomes a reality.
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Format: Hardcover
To enjoy this book you do not need to be a 49er fan. There are lots of stories about other teams and players that you never read about in the sports section. Lazarus let's you listen in on player negotiations, player's thoughts, coach's strategies, and reporter's speculation. Plus many games are summarized in a way that makes you feel that you were there as a spectator.

The book spends most of its time detailing the careers of Joe Montana and Steve Young. You'll find out what the TV announcers never knew. Its quite a human interest story. And you will read about other great quarterbacks and coaches.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a terrific book that treats the subject fairly. I had been a 49er fan during this era and remembered
the games and the characters. I had been a fan of Steve Young's before reading this book, even more so
after. The competition between two super quarterbacks fighting for the same job is gripping. Lazarus gives
us a fair story from the Joe side and the Steve side. Highly recommended for any football fan but certainly
for 49er fans.
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