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Bowerman and the Men of Oregon: The Story of Oregon's Legendary Coach and Nike's Co-founder Hardcover – July 25, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews

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Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The bestselling author of "Encyclopedia an Ordinary Life" returns with a literary experience that is unprecedented, unforgettable, and explosively human. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; First Edition edition (July 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594861900
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594861901
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of this highly anticipated book and enjoyed every minute of it.

The life events of Bill Bowerman remind me of those in Forrest Gump, while his mind seemed to work much like Leonardo Da Vinci's. He is a descendent of a US President, a product of the Oregon Trail, an unlikely athletic star, a decorated war hero, witness to terrorism, accomplished innovator, co-founder of a fortune 500 company, humble philanthropist and mentor to some of the most amazing people you have never heard of. The pages seem to turn themselves as you anticipate the next defining event in Bill's life.

This book is not only about Bill, as the title suggests. Expect large chunks of multiple chapters to be about the people that came into Bill's life. It is especially a joy to read about Steve Prefontaine and Phil Knight.

My only caution is that those of us who are not fans of track and field may find some of the wonderfully detailed recolections of races rather tedious. None the less, Moore does a great job of keeping the reader engaged.

Nearly anyone can learn something from Bill through Moore's writing. This book is about so much more than running or the founding of Nike. Pick it up and prepare to learn more about life than you ever thought you could.

DISCLOSURE: I must admit that I am a life-long fan of Nike, a UO alum, sports nut, and admirer of Phil Knight. I may be a little biased.

EDIT: In response to a review above. The missing pages contained the forward written by Phil Knight. Legal mumbo jumbo got in the way and the forward was pulled. In a way, it's kid of cool to own a first eddition copy in the even the book goes through multiple printings.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well-written and researched, this biography paints virtually every facet of Bill Bowerman's life and character across a canvas as broad as the Western skyline. From Bill's adventurous ancestors' settlement in Oregon, to his fatherless upbringing, to his high school sports and military successes, to his coaching, and finally to his entrepreneurial undertakings as a Nike founder, the narrative progresses in a logical, well-organized fashion. Even knowing that Kenny Moore, as one of Bill's unwavering supporters over the years, must have skewed this character study a bit toward the positive, I turned the last page convinced that Bill Bowerman was a multi-talented man of high principle and inquisitive Promethean temperament, who left the sport much better than he found it.

Moore is at his finest when describing training techniques and track performances and when discussing, from his insider's vantage point, Bill's early running shoe prototypes and his relationships with the many talented athletes who ran at Oregon. As a fourth-place Olympic finisher in the same Munich Games where Pre faltered down the home stretch, Moore also did a wonderful job of illustrating how an untimely illness, a poor race plan, or other unfortunate circumstances denied many great champions the elusive Olympic medals by which athletic success is too often measured.

Some of the material is slow-going and somewhat dense in factual detail, however, and a disciplined editor could probably have pared it down by fifty pages or more. In particular, I wished that less text was spent on Bill's ancestors and family, his involvement in World War II and the struggles with Track & Field's governing bodies. That said, I can understand why Moore might have felt compelled to err on the side of over-inclusion when taking on the weighty responsibility of memorializing the life of his beloved coach.

-Kevin Joseph, author of "The Champion Maker"
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kenny Moore has written an OUTSTANDING book about an EXTRAORDINARY man. Bill Bowerman coached the University of Oregon track and cross country teams for 25 years. He led them to National Championships in both sports. He led an extaordinary life.

He was raised by a single mother and participated in track and football as on the high school and collegiate levels. He fought in WWII in the 10th Mountain division. While at UO he help start a shoe company because his athletes could not get a decent pair of running shoes. The company became NIKE.

He coached many Olympians including Kenny Moore(4th place - marathon - Munich '72). He was the head track and field coach at the '72 games. He coached Steve Prefontaine.

Kenny Moore tells the Bowerman story with loving detail. His unique perspective of being one of Bowerman's former athletes gives the book a special glow. Moore is also an excellent writer (Sports Illustrated: "Best Efforts" is a classic). Bowerman was a great man with flaws. Moore paints the complete picture in a loving, understanding fashion. THIS AN OUTSTANDING BOOK!!!
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Format: Hardcover
One of the best sportswriters/magazine writers of the last few decades is one Kenny Moore. Sports Illustrated took a serious blow when he cut back (or eliminated?) his writing for that publication. Moore is also rather obscure as his only other book, "Best Efforts," is out of print. It is a fabulous collection of shorts stories about distance running.

Though quantity may be lacking in Moore's book-writing career, he sets a world record here in his excellent biography of Bill Bowerman, his coach at the University of Oregon.

Bowerman was quite the Renaissance Man and ahead of his time, viewing coaching not from a sadistic point of view, but rather one that looks out for an athlete's best physical interests. Bowerman believed rest was as important as hard work so that an athlete may be sharp on meet day. Moore captures this well. In addition, Moore points out Bowerman's forward thinking in being the first to look at rubberized tracks in the U.S., as well as his inventing of the waffle running shoes and co-founding NIKE.

Moore's take looks deep into Bowerman's personality. At first I thought Moore was too forgiving of some of Bowerman's faults, namely his stubborness, the way he could turn on his athletes, his ritual of branding athletes in the sauna with his metal keys, and peeing on them in the shower. Moore it appears wants the reader to make his own judgements as the author's bias and admiration for Bowerman comes through. However, Moore does note that Bowerman could turn on his athletes and co-workers at NIKE rather quickly.

Excellent biographies show the entire person, warts and all. Perhaps we don't get all the warts, but Bowerman is shown as being human, not super human.
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