Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Paterno” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  864 Ratings  ·  138 Reviews
By America’s premier sportswriter, written with full cooperation of Joe Paterno and his family, Paterno is the definitive account of the epic life of America’s winningest college football coach. Published to coincide with Penn State football’s first season without their legendary leader.

Joe Posnanski’s biography of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno follows in
Published August 21st 2012 by Simon & Schuster Audio
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Paterno, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Paterno

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,410)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
I'm going to start this review with some stories.

1. When I was learning how to drive, we drove out to an area of the Penn State campus that is far away from everything, but in walking distance to Beaver Stadium. It was a Sunday in late spring and no one was around. I went around a corner and slammed on the brakes. I almost hit Joe Paterno, who was out for a walk. He shook his fist at me angrily. My husband rolled down his window and apologized, telling Joe I was just learning to drive, and Joe
Sep 10, 2012 Reedz0r rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, this book, about Paterno's life, had some difficulties. It was mostly written before the Sandusky scandal broke and i could tell that the writer had to go back over the narrative and give it a belated treatment in consideration of the scandal. as such, the first half of the book felt a little awkward. the biography went in chronological order, as expected, but the author would cut into the story with asides that referred to the recent scandal. the back and forth felt a little uncomfortable, ...more
Kyle Tait
Nov 04, 2012 Kyle Tait rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All too often we are drawn in by mob mentality. We believe everything the national media tells us, and in today's viral society one media member's thoughts become the thoughts of ten media members, a situation that feeds and fuels itself until it grows into an uncontrollable and unfathomable monster greater than any one individual or group. We are infiltrated and consumed so deeply by the saturation of Twitter and television news that we entirely lose sight of the once clear line between our own ...more
Aug 22, 2012 Book rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 li
Brian Katz
Sep 03, 2012 Brian Katz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book. Starting with Joe in his early days in school, working up through the many years as coach at Penn State. It was great to re-live some of those years - I attended Penn State from 1979 to 1983, where the team was national champion - and to hear from those that knew him and that he coached. He worked tirelessly to improve the lives of others, with no hint of self recognition for his actions. He and his family gave millions to the University they loved in order to enhance their lives t ...more
Sep 17, 2012 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought is was a very good book by someone who had amazing access to Joe and those who knew him best. I do believe firmly that this man who stood for integrity and academic scholarship coming before football did not know anymore than he said. I believe if the creep had been working for Joe, at the time of the incidents, he would have followed up more and I believe he regretted leaving that up to others. This man made millions at the end of his life but he walked away from countless more millio ...more
This book will not change your opinion on Paterno, so don't read it if you want to be swayed in either direction. The author pretty much states that: in one chapter, Joe goes to recruit a future Heisman trophy winner when he realizes the kid brother has leukemia. He abandons the football player and his parents; leaving his colleagues to do the recruiting. Instead, he spends the rest of the evening sitting with the brother. As the author states, "you can see the beauty or you can see the self-int ...more
Brenda Benedict
Sep 08, 2012 Brenda Benedict rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I read this book in an effort to understand how Joe Paterno could be such a polarizng figure. He was seen as a great coach and person by some and evil by others.

This book offered some insights into the man. But my questions weren't fully answered. The author paints the picture of Paterno's relationship with Sandusky as strained from the beginning. But some things didn't make sense. If he really disliked Sandusky, why did Paterno allow him on his staff for so many years? Why did he allow him such
Sep 07, 2012 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply an amazing book. This is a must read that allows the reader to further understand how Joe Paterno worked, thought, and lived. His mind was always active, always thinking two steps ahead - "think about getting up on your way down". A concise view of a genuine human who was only ever really afraid of one thing. A human who never got along with someone that the general public had always thought were best friends. A human who put the lives, education, and futures of the players first -- he di ...more
Tracy Jenkins
Aug 26, 2012 Tracy Jenkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I've been a fan of Penn State football since my birth in 1963. A pretty good time to follow a program and it's legendary coach. My parents both graduated from Penn State as did my grandmother, my aunt and uncle and other relatives. I never attended PSU, but have always felt like State College was a second home. Until now I'd never read a book about Paterno. I'd always had my own feelings about him based on his coaching techniques and his desire to focus on the larger parts of a student-athletes
Brian Prosser
Jan 26, 2013 Brian Prosser rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Disclaimer: I've followed Penn State football and Joe Pa since I was a young boy...grew up listening to the games on the radio. Had read a few other books on Paterno, but wanted to read this book because 1) I think Posnanski is one of the best sports writers in the country, and 2) he was living at State College researching this book when Paterno was fired; he shared conversations with Paterno in those few months between his firing and death. For those looking for a research project which definit ...more
Aug 29, 2012 Kerry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, kindle
I don't read a lot of biographies, but this one was close to me. It may not be as compelling if you are just wanting to accept the current media interpretations (and I am including the Freeh report here because it is just a very skewed interpretation). This helped me to understand Joe Paterno much better than I had before. He was not a god, but a man that wanted to do his best for his university, his kids, and his family. He was not perfect and not a demon either. This book made me laugh and cry ...more
Todd Stockslager
Jun 02, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Review title: A big life

Today, September 1, 2012, Penn State played Ohio, and Joe Paterno's widowed wife Sue quietly slipped into Beaver Stadium and watched the first three quarters of the game from the family's suite. Even in the midst and the wake of the maelstrom that surrounded the end of Joe Paterno's life and legacy, life (and legacy) still go on.

Joe Posnanski had an insider's view of the maelstrom based on the exclusive access to Paterno, his family, and friends that he was granted to wri
May 15, 2014 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
This is a fantastic biography of a great man who became incredibly controversial just before his death. I grew up watching PSU football and attended Penn State during the later years, the lowest years in terms of wins and losses for the football team, of JoePa's career. His story was headed for an ending in sainthood before becoming embroiled in controversy. The Sandusky scandal shook the school and the nation. What did Joe know and when did Joe know it? This book does not really shed light on t ...more
Paul Pessolano
Jun 25, 2015 Paul Pessolano rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Paterno” by Joe Posnanski, published by Simon and Schuster.

Category – Sports Biography Publication Date – August 06, 2013

It seems an impossible task to put together a biography on the life of Joe Paterno, and yet Joe Posnanski not only does a good job but one I would call stellar. Posnanski takes us to the very top of Paterno’s life and also to the very bottom. He is very forthright in that he presents the facts and makes no judgment; the judgment is left to the reader.

Paterno comes from humble
Sep 02, 2012 Debra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read it and tell me Joe Paterno systematically contributed to help cover up a sexual predator's crimes. I dare you.
Vindication, when it comes, will come too late for Joe, but it will be all the sweeter because the media and the PSU BOT who railroaded him, Freeh and the NCAA will all get their due.

Excellent book, well written, well researched. I especially loved the players' vignettes of Joe, and what they've all taken away from their experiences with him.
May 19, 2016 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My review of the writing is "I really liked it", so 4 stars, but my review of the subject of the book is 5 stars. I'm a PSU grad and lived on the slope of Mt. Nittany for the first 3 years of my life. I feel an additional connection because Joe Paterno was a year younger than my dad, and my dad even resembled him enough that people would stop my dad and ask if he was related. I admire the integrity and drive that Joe Paterno had, and his concern that his players get an education and become produ ...more
May 18, 2014 Bluegrassfan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very boring book and Paterno was obviously a very boring person who cared only about his football team's success. The praises of his his former players were weak and seemed to be included just so something positive could be said. Paterno was a pathetic person who tried to act as though he did what he was supposed to. One statement I found especially ludicrous was when Paterno, a man with a college degree, had to ask what sodomy meant. It is reported to him that child molestation is occurring in ...more
E Haight
Nov 15, 2015 E Haight rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For good or ill, I can't really remember what my opinion of Joe Paterno was before reading this book. I had read plenty of Posnanski's writings in the sporting press, so I felt assured that this would be a good read and I wasn't disappointed. Impeccably researched, this is neither hagiography nor hit piece, but a complicated presentation of a complicated man. This, I think, is exactly the portrayal Posnanski intended and a job well done. The prose was occasionally less than compelling, but that' ...more
Jul 27, 2014 Jerry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow tough one here. I'm an Ohio State Fan but with a huge respect for tradition and the "good" things Coach Paterno stood for. I loved it when Penn State entered the Big 10. & still look forward to playing Penn State every late October. Now to the book. There are just too many dots not connected by the author. You have to read in between the lines most of the time. Best example how the author states that Paterno's memory in some ways was remarkable. But then gives him a pass when Coach says ...more
Gregory Nerogic
Sep 08, 2015 Gregory Nerogic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent analysis ; presented to allow the reader to draw their own conclusions

Posnanski captures many facts, stories and anecdotes that collectively combine to present a colourful mosaic that was Paterno's life. Definitely sympathetic to Joe, deservedly so, Posnanski appears to have captured the man, all his strengths and weaknesses complete. I agree with the posit that over time Paterno's reputation and legacy will be restored, perhaps tempered by the humanity of the man and his human fail
Kerry Waller
Apr 10, 2014 Kerry Waller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do yourself a favor and read as much Joe Posnanski as you can. He has a remarkable ability to focus on the important dynamics of whatever story he attempts and he is a master storyteller once he identifies these key dynamics. I am not a Penn State fan, and have no great loyalty towards (or hatred for) Joe Paterno. I read this book strictly because of its author and I was rewarded for it. Posnanski tells a difficult tale about the sad ending of a great man's life and manages to tell it fairly and ...more
Dec 17, 2015 Emma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For full disclosure, I went to Penn State, and I worked there for four years, including in 2011 wen the charges against Jerry Sandusky were brought to light. Also, I am a third generation Penn State alum.

I have read the Investigative Grand Jury report, the Freeh report (of which the errors are too many tio name), The Critique of the Freeh Report, and most other court documents related to the Jerry Sandusky.

However, the book is not just about the Jerry Sandusky scandal. It's about Joe Paterno's e
Eleanor Cowan
Dedication, purposefulness, and single-mindedness are all admirable traits, but when these blurr important warning signs that should have been cared about, then, yes, most unfortunately, as the book explains, then greatness gets lost.

Eleanor Cowan, author of : A History of a Pedophile's Wife: Memoir of a Canadian Teacher and Writer
Michael Shaw
Mar 30, 2015 Michael Shaw rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought Joe Paterno was simple man with few complexities other than his ingenious ability to design and execute game plans. I was wrong. Joe Posnanski was given more than ample access, time and opportunity to explore Paterno's life from beginning to end with the support of his family; their only directive-- to reveal the truth as you find it. Posnanski does.
"Paterno" doesn't attempt to idolize, rewrite history or gloss over tragedy. The book is an historically accurate look at a man's life fil
Mar 01, 2013 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports-biography
I enjoyed this book because I was always a Joe Paterno fan. The book is not a literary masterpiece by any means but it was thorough retelling Paterno's professional career. I would have like to have heard more about his family life and how his kids handled being the child of a legend.

The crux of the book and narrative will continue to be the Sandusky response and whether he should have done more. As Paterno said, "in hindsight I wished I had done more." Is something we all say about any failure
Sep 12, 2012 J rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have no idea what this book's purpose is - particularly because I know that before the Sandusky scandal rocked Penn State, Posnanski was writing the book anyway. The author suggests that he was writing the book because he had reason to believe Paterno was going to retire at the end of the season, even before disaster struck. If he was writing a swan song book, he abandoned that mission, maybe because the scandal rendered it moot, and maybe because the last season of Joe Paterno's life just was ...more
Dec 06, 2012 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Joe Posnanski did an excellent job of telling the Joe Paterno story. While the controversy continues to swirl around the Penn State pedophile scandal, it is critical to understand that the convicted criminal is Jerry Sandusky and not Joe Paterno. Clearly, Joe could have done more, he could have followed up, coulda, woulda, shouda.

But the real story here is the profile of the type of man we rarely see anymore in the public light. Classically educated, brilliant strategist and football coach and s
I enjoyed the writing in the bio of Joe Paterno. I enjoyed Joe Mantenga's performance of the book. I enjoyed hearing about the coach, and the qualities of another person who has striven for and come close to the goal of excellence.

As we all do, Paterno had inconsistencies in his life, but he generally stuck to some demanding and solid principles, some of which are:
Take care of the little things, big things take care of themselves.
One your way down, think about getting up.
You cannot be afraid to
Lauren Brown
Nov 04, 2013 Lauren Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-have
First and foremost: I am a Penn Stater through and through. I bleed blue and white and have since the second I was born. The unfortunate scandal that tore down the reputation of Penn State happened my senior year at the University. It truly changed the atmosphere of "Happy Valley" in every way possible.

This book was a brilliantly told story of a remarkable man's life. Yes, Joe Paterno was (and always will be) remarkable. He was not perfect, and he never claimed to be, but he was honest and good
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 46 47 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • War As They Knew It: Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, and America in a Time of Unrest
  • Rising Tide: Bear Bryant, Joe Namath, and Dixie's Last Quarter
  • In the Blink of an Eye: Dale, Daytona, and the Day that Changed Everything
  • The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football
  • If I'm So Smart, Why Can't I Lose Weight?: Tools to Get It Done
  • Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington
  • A Voice in the Box
  • The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet: Smart, Simple, Science-Based Strategies for Losing Weight and Keeping It Off
  • Walter Johnson: Baseball's Big Train
  • A Drive into the Gap
  • Memories of Summer: When Baseball Was an Art, and Writing about It a Game
  • The Core Balance Diet: 4 Weeks to Boost Your Metabolism and Lose Weight for Good
  • Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football
  • I Raise My Eyes to Say Yes
  • Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South
  • Ride Your Way Lean: The Ultimate Plan for Burning Fat and Getting Fit on a Bike
  • The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking: 80 Low-Carb Recipes that Offer Solutions for Celiac Disease, Diabetes, and Weight Loss
  • Namath: a Biography
Joe Posnanski is national columnist for NBC Sports. He has been named National Sportswriter of the Year and twice was awarded the best sports columnist in America by The Associated Press Sports Editors.

He has written five books:

“The Good Stuff,” was a collection of columns.

“The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America,” won the Casey Award as best baseball book of 2007.

More about Joe Posnanski...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“You can’t be afraid to lose!” he shouted with a jolt of force, and he pointed at me. “You will not win all the time in life. Sometimes the other team’s gonna lick ya. But you have to believe you will win. You know who wins in this world? I don’t care if it’s football or politics or business. The bold people win. The audacious people. People who are afraid to lose, they beat themselves. They lose before they ever get started. They have their excuses before the game is even played.” 1 likes
“Joe Paterno would end every game by gathering the players and reciting the Lord’s Prayer. He loved it—not so much for religious reasons but for the words. Look. The Lord’s Prayer uses the words “us” and “we” and “our.” It doesn’t use the word “I” or “me” or “mine.” Paterno understood. It’s a team prayer.” 0 likes
More quotes…