From Publishers Weekly
When Bill Walsh took over coaching duties for the San Francisco 49ers in the late 1970s, the team was arguably the worst in the NFL—and he was stuck trying to shake a rep that he lacked what it took to lead a pro team. Within two years, the 49ers had won the Super Bowl (against Walsh's former employers, the Cincinnati Bengals, no less) and were well on their way to becoming the team of the '80s. Harris's biography is grounded by extensive interviews with Walsh, but the players and others who were there bring nuance to the portrait, revealing that the Genius who was admired for his confident demeanor on game day could also be a brittle, insecure personality off the field. While game highlights do appear, equal attention is paid to Walsh's team-building skills, with lengthy analyses of his selections from the college draft pool—including Joe Montana, an underappreciated college quarterback who became one of the game's all-time greats. Harris clearly knows his football, but the personal drama of Walsh's career is told with such verve that even nonfans will be riveted. (Sept. 2)
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Before Bill Walsh became head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in 1979 and led the team to three Super Bowl victories, he had earned a reputation as an innovative offensive coordinator with an ability to develop quarterbacks. Considered soft-spoken and something of an intellectual, he was also considered an oddity among the NFL coaching fraternity. Harris, a former contributing editor at the New York Times Magazine and Rolling Stone and author of 10 previous books, conducted a series of interviews with Walsh in the year preceding the coach’s death in July 2007. Those form the basis for the book but are fleshed out with other first-person interviews as well as detailed research from other print sources. The resulting portrait confirms much of the public’s perception of Walsh: erudite, thoughtful, focused, brilliant, and compassionate. In addition, Harris illustrates Walsh’s incredible passion for the game, his competitive drive, and even his whimsical sense of humor. Walsh was one of the NFL’s greatest coaches, and Harris’ book does him justice. Expect significant demand. --Wes Lukowsky