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Paterno Hardcover – August 21, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 239 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Joe Paterno was the head football coach at Penn State for 45 years. He built a legacy of success, integrity, and honor, but it all came crashing down when it was revealed that he did virtually nothing after learning a former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was a probable child molester. In the decade that followed Paterno’s inaction, Sandusky molested many other children and was subsequently convicted of more than 40 counts of child molestation. Posnanski, an award-winning journalist formerly with Sports Illustrated, had virtually unfettered access to Paterno, his family, and Paterno’s papers during the last year of Paterno’s life, as the scandal rolled out. Sadly, there are no answers in the book. Posnanski instead chooses to write mostly of the good deeds in Paterno’s life. No one is denying the positives in Paterno’s life, The question that remains unanswered— at least in this book—is what combination of hubris, greed, and self-aggrandizement led Paterno and the Penn State administration to look the other way for more than a decade. There have been millions of words written about the scandal and subsequent trial of Sandusky. Posnanski has added to the total without offering much substance. --Wes Lukowsky


"Paterno is a portrait very much in three dimensions. It is the story of an extraordinary life." (Philadelphia Daily News)

"Paterno adds grain and texture to the historical record.... makes a cogent case for absorbing Paterno's entire legacy." (Dwight Garner The New York Times)

"I urge you to read [Paterno]. . . A life is never defined entirely by a man's good, or by his bad." (Mike Vaccaro New York Post)

"It is exhilirating to read of Paterno the man and gripping to read of his downfall." (ESPN.com)

The truth is that [Paterno] is a portrait very much in three dimensions. In that sense, Posnanski succeeds…We are left with this book as the final record of the final days. It is more than that, obviously - it is the story of an extraordinary life - but it is most compelling as a chronicle of the end.” (Philadelphia Daily News) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (August 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451657498
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451657494
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (239 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #754,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Book Shark TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Paterno by Joe Posnanski

"Paterno" is the fascinating story of Joe Paterno's life. It's the truth of his life. "The only thing he ever asked of me was to write the truth as I found it." Mission accomplished, talented author and sports journalist Joe Posnanski, takes the reader on a life's journey, the life of Joe Paterno. With unlimited access to Joe Paterno's personal files, family, friends and former players, Posnanski weaves a captivating life that impacted many: his childhood, war, college life at Brown University and his sixty-one years of coaching at Penn State. It includes the very sad ending and the scandal that galvanized the country. This mesmerizing 416-page book is composed of the following five acts: Act I: Before, Act II: Excellence, Act III: Success, Act IV: What Comes After and the Final Act.

1. Posnanski captures the essence of Joe Paterno's life. It is well-written, well-researched and the topic was treated with the utmost care and respect. Most importantly, it was truthful.
2. Having access to Joe Paterno and all the people that interacted with him was instrumental in being able to provide the public with a truthful account. The author makes it clear that he is not out to defend Joe Paterno but to provide a truthful account of his life and succeeds.
3. The book covers Paterno's life: from his childhood, his many years as a coach to the sad end.
4. One of the joys of reading is discovering hidden gems and surprises. The author provides many interesting tidbits about Paterno.
5. As a football fan, I enjoyed the insight into coaching. The philosophy, the inner workings, the interaction with people, the impact to a community and ultimately a nation. How coaching changed over the years, the evolution of coaching.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having casually followed US college football for a number of years -- including my time playing in Canada during the early 80's -- I was a semi-informed but highly motivated reader. I had a vague notion of Paterno's characteristics but few details, so this fascinating portrait really filled in the gaps for me. And it was done in a well paced, approachable and intelligent manner. Overall, an excellent read.

On the matter of Paterno's culpability, with respect to properly reporting his knowledge of Sandusky, I found myself flipping back and forth emotionally. At one point my reaction was the author was cutting Joe Pa the maximum allowable slack -- but then as I read more closely I found maybe that bias was more of my own as I was tainted going in by the press stories which expressed unfettered outrage. In addition, I must say I appreciated the fact the author took a risk and briefly include his personal response to Paterno's question about "what do you think of all this?". It was appropriate and illuminated other aspects of the text nicely.

Paterno lived a rich and authentic life. While his blind spots unfortunately led to his downfall, I believe, as the emotion subsides, the everyday fan will have a more balanced view of his entire legacy.
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Posnanski's book needs to be read by those that prior to November 2011 only knew Joe Paterno as a football coach. A lot of favorite vignettes of Paterno's legacy are here, including stories of his childhood in Brooklyn and the disappointment of his father upon Paterno's decision to shirk law school to instead coach at Brown University. Posnanski outlines Paterno's rise and explains how he etched out a special place in many Penn Staters hearts, but the author also holds no punches in his criticism of Paterno's handling (or mishandling) of the Sandusky saga. Posnanski has stated on the record that the Paterno estate has had zero input on his final draft, making this the most unbiased and most thoroughly researched biography of Joseph Paterno.

If your intention is to read this book to learn more dirt about Paterno's role in the Sandusky scandal, you will walk away disappointed. If you care to learn more about the man that millions idolized and attempt to understand his legacy and fallout, then you must read this book.
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IF you are looking for a book on Joe Paterno and Penn State that fans the flames and feeds the madness of public opinion, this is not your book.
Instead Joe Posnanski has taken the time to sift through most of Joe Paterno's life and find the reality of the man behind the broken legend.
The book winds through the streets of Brooklyn through Brown University and onto a State College that few of us would recognize. The stories and people lay the foundation for the Paterno who rose to legend only to stumble and fall in the end.
For those of us who had the honor of knowing Joe this book fills in the gaps both in the days before he came into our lives and in those days when the madness arrived and swallowed up all of us. It confirms the good Joe was capable of as well as the shortcomings that were heightened by the ravages of age.
Come to this book with an open mind and you will be rewarded for the experience.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I grew up with Joe Paterno in a manner of speaking. His first season as a head coach was my sophomore year at Penn State. I can't say I really got to know him personally, but I did meet him and speak with him on several occasions. I also roomed with a couple football players during my time at PSU and heard dozens of Paterno stories from them.

So, the majority of this book offered no real surprises for me. If was only near the end, when the author focused on the Sandusky scandal, that I found out things I never knew. Paterno's relationship with Sandusky was a particular example. I never knew that the relationship between the two men was always strained and I kept asking myself why he didn't just fire Sandusky. So many things might have turned out differently.

For those that followed Paterno closely over the many years, this book will bring back many positive memories. We may never know all that went on behind the scenes during the scandal, but I believe Paterno did what he thought was right. His actions were inept and tragically not enough - even he admitted as much - but I cannot believe he would deliberately cover up the horrors of Sandusky's crimes. What happened at the end of his career (and life) seemed a media driven, rush to judgement by many people (the Board, the administration, the NCAA) that resulted in forever ruining the reputation of a coach who worked so hard to do the right thing over so many years. Reading this book helped me to remember him for the positive impact he had on the lives of so many.
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