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Showing 1-10 of 215 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 243 reviews
on October 9, 2016
Posnaski gives us a good outline of a life well lived. As many others have noted, if you simply want a book about the scandal, this is not it. Of course, it is addressed, but as a part of a greater whole. Posnaski's position seems to be that Paterno certainly made a moral failing in 2002, but talk of a "cover up", particularly on his end, displays an ignorance of contextual evidence.

My main gripe with the biography was that it didn't spend too much time discussing his life outside of coaching during the heart of his tenure. I want to know stories about him going to watch Jay play for State College High (or if he even did in the first place). Posnaski constantly references his interest in politics, I want to know more about the causes he championed, the people he supported, etc. And of course, as someone who has "honored Joe" by frequenting it throughout my college years, I want to know more about his vision and involvement in the library addition on campus. Interesting topics that would better paint a portrait of Coach Paterno would have been greatly appreciated.

Having said that, the book draws from a wealth of sources and gets Joe's personal inights and/or recollections on most of the major moments throughout his life, to an extent that we will not see again this side of paradise. For anybody who wants to know more about the molder of student athletes, the man behind the Grand Experiment, "Paterno" is the place to begin.
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on September 8, 2012
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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on September 22, 2012
As a sports fan and a non-PSU fan, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have followed the scandal since the indictment was released. I believe the author was very objective in getting inside the Penn State and Joe Paterno story. He pointed out his apparent flaws along with his greatest strengths. It is truly sad to have one clear mistake in judgement taint the legacy of such a long career that had such positive results for so many players, alumni and fans. Even former players who hated Joe Paterno in their playing days, often ended up giving him credit for giving them direction that they didn't appreciate until years later. It is a modern day classic tragedy. The players, fans and most everyone affiliated with the University did nothing wrong. Some key personnel including the University Board of Trustees clearly dropped the ball.

The only criticism I have about the book is the fact that Joe Paterno denied knowing anything about the 1998 incident in a well publicized interview with the Washing Post. This was contradicted by several e-mails that were noted in the Freeh Report when several of the key personnel refer to Paterno's concern about the incident. I believe the author should have pursued this topic and apparent conflict in more detail.
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on September 6, 2012
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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on June 27, 2014
I'm no literary expert but this book is well written besides being an excellent summary of his whole life and views/beliefs. Probably doesn't excel in regards to the Sandusky situation although this was not his main mission. What a man/icon but everyone has some warts. When attending a training course in fall of 1984 at State College, I was amazed at how high a high percentage of people though he was great, great. Granted that he was a giant, but come on. Excellent history of the Penn State Football. I still remember him appearing to the crowd early in the breaking story, and basically saying "______, but pray for the Football Team."
Maybe my recollection of the timing of this is wrong but don't think so. I know he did a lot of good and noteworthy things both in Football and Life Lessons, helping people, etc, But I'm not buying that he didn't know or he did the "right" things. No Way - of course he or all the others didn't know how massive it was, but they still blew it.
But back again to just the book (95% + on other things) it was really good and hard to put down. Well done.
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on September 12, 2012
Joe Paterno and I arrived at Penn State at the same time, myself as a freshman in engineering. I believe this book was a very fair summary of a very unfortunate situation. I further believe that the Fries report jumped to conclusions that Paterno knew and controlled everything at the University. Therefore, he had to know. I do not believe this. It was no secret that Paterno and Sandusky were never close friends. They had no outside contacts with each others families. This book clearly states that Paterno did contact his superiors of this incident. Two of these individuals were found guilty of lies to the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury never brought similar charges against Paterno. It is sad for me that these two individuals and the former President of Penn State seem to be not affected at all by this scandle affecting the University. It is so easy to place all the blame on the dead guy, namely Paterno. I would hope that justice will someday visit those three remaining University superiors. In conclusion I found this book highly informative and the author was not biased either for or against Paterno.
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on September 17, 2012
Posnanski does an excellent job in presenting the career of Joe Paterno in a balanced and responsible way. I am guessing that the initial agreement was that Posnanski would be prepared to present a flattering portrait, but the Sandusky scandal influenced the trajectory of the story arc. To the author's credit, I believe he stays true to his original plan, but he does not shy away from the damning series of events that have sullied Paterno's legacy. If you are inclined as I am to believe that Paterno was 90% the image that was created before the scandal broke, you will be able to maintain that view. Posnanski does not draw personal conclusions; he sticks to the facts and speculates in both directions - toward full culpability as well as toward culpability grounded in negligence.

While there is not a great deal that is 'new' in the treatment, Posnanski does credibly cover the material from the Paterno file that has not been widely reported.
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on October 22, 2015
Fair warning, I am a PSU grad as is my son. This appears to be a fair treatment of Joe's career. No one will ever know what happened with Sandusky because Joe is deceased. Joe was undoubtedly by far the greatest division one college coach ever. Not only did he win more games than anyone else, almost every single player graduated and he would only take the best kids. He passed up on lots of kids that became starts for other colleges simply because they didn't fit the Penn State mold either in terms of character or academics. All the other well know college coaches had a lot of kids playing for them that could barely read and write and some were borderline criminals. However, even I have my doubts whether he should have done more than he did to keep Sandusky away from PSU. There is zero chance he knew about problem and looked the other way.
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on September 22, 2012
As a Penn Stater I thought I knew about Joe Paterno. Posnanski presents an insider's view of Joe Paterno, the man. For many years the image of Joe Paterno as saint was how people thought of him; with the events of Nov. 2011 he was demonized with what appeared to be glee from many of the mainstream media. He was clearly human, a good human, but still human with all of the messiness that goes with it. Posnanski tells the story of Paterno's life; but also of those last days with him as the Sandusky scandal came to light. I laughed at times and cried throughout most of the book for the legacy of an icon, who, in my opinion was unfairly accused without any due process by the mainstream media and the Penn State Board of Trustees. Posnanski delivers what appears to be a fair assessment of the man and his legacy.
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on September 12, 2012
Excellent book. It was nice to learne about all the students that Paterno so positiveley impacted and how some of these students did in non-football careers after Penn State football. The book has a few accounts from ex-Penn State football players that were great to read about. Every student spoke very highly about Joe. Paterno died in disgrace but he did a great job with the students which he was noted to call "student athletes" It was nice to learn that Paterno heavily emphasized the 'student' not the 'athlete'. Paterno placed a heavy responsibility on the students doing well in school and to be humble. On the latter point, Joe did not have any of the Penn State players names on their uniforms becasue Joe thought that having names on their uniforms to be not a humble thing to do. Penn State, until recently, was the onmly football team NOT to have the players names on the back of their uniforms. Clearly, Joe was a man of high character that made a mistake by not better following up on Sandusky with the police. Joe should be evaluated based upon all the good he did with his life which on balance seemed to heavily outweigh his mistake with the Sandusky affair.
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