Bowerman and the Men of Oregon: The Story of Oregon's Legendary Coach and Nike's Co-founder
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Bowerman and the Men of Oregon: The Story of Oregon's Legendary Coach and Nike's Co-founder

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  879 ratings  ·  74 reviews
The first biography of the legendary track coach, and founder of Nike, who had an unparalleled impact on the sport of running

During his tenure as track coach at the University of Oregon from 1949 through 1972, Bill Bowerman won 4 national team titles, trained dozens of milers to break the 4-minute barrier, and his athletes set 13 world and 22 American records. Single-hande...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published July 25th 2006 by Rodale Books
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Community Reviews

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In a sense, this three-star rating is an average: for those in the first group, this book may well merit four or five stars, but to the general audience (non-athletes in particular), the book would be of little to no interest. But if you fall into one of the former categories (runner, coach, or Nike fan), read on for a quick recap of the book's salient aspects.

First of all, I have to commend author Kenny Moore (former Oregon runner coached by Bowerman, and later Oregon MFA graduate) for his thor...more
Quite simply, this is the best biography I have ever read. The names, places, and events may be unknown to many but I worked for a running publication for 12 years and was indirectly associated with many of the prominent individuals.

Bill Bowerman was descended from a line of true American pioneers. He was an American hero during WWII and again during the Munich games, safeguarding not only his athletes, but the Olympic spirit as well.

This book brought tears to my eyes as I finished it. I didn't...more
I was overcome with emotion as I finished this book this morning; Moore has done a rare thing. He has humanized his "old coach," a legendary, mythic figure, and he has placed him in the context of his time (WW2 to the 90's), place (Oregon), and family (beloved wife Barbara, three children). I loved the focus of the book on Bill Bowerman the man and the coach, yet I still feel like he exists in a swirl of mystery and shade. His quips and retorts are legendary, but his warmth and intelligence unde...more
Allen Levine
Kenny Moore had a difficult task in writing a book about the legendary coach and inventor, Bill Bowerman. With Bowerman and the Men of Oregon, he has done an excellent job. The reader will likely come to the table knowing quite a bit about Coach Bowerman, from his interactions with his best known runner, Steve Prefontaine, to his invention of the waffle sole which propelled the start of Nike.

That information has been widely discussed in countless articles, books, documentaries, and films. What i...more
A note on the rating: If you are a reader from the great big world of readers, the quality of this book rates at three stars. But if you are a reader that also happens to be a competitive runner or cross-country and/or track and field enthusiast then this book rates at five stars and might very well be the best one on our passion's subject. For the average reader, you might be in awe that Bowerman experienced and did all that he did, but there is a chance you won't find the deep investigations i...more
Feb 04, 2010 Russ rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Oregonians, track and field fans
Bill Bowerman was the head coach of the University of Oregon track team for 20-some years, but he was so much more than that. He was an innovator, an inventor, a philanthropist, a war hero. Kenny Moore ran on Bowerman's teams, and he wrote this biography of Bowerman and his world. Few are more qualified for such a task than Moore, being both a writer and a former Bowerman-coached athlete.

Even if you think you know Bill Bowerman, after reading this book you learn that you know very little. I foun...more
Jan 10, 2012 Dave rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Paul Jacobs
Recommended to Dave by: Kevin
3.5 stars.

The good: Bowerman is a character. Kenny Moore takes the reader through years of Bowerman anecdotes and those anecdotes are laced with dozens of famous and not-so-famous runners. I couldn't help wanting to have been tested and coached by Bowerman. This book made me appreciate Eugene, Hayward Field, and the Prefontaine Classic even more.

The not-so good: Kenny Moore is a great choice for a biographer of Bowerman, but I found his occasional switches to first person narration to be jarring...more
Bio of extraordinary Oregonian Bill Bowerman. I didn't realize how much his life touched the lives of so many around the world, including me. Pioneer ancestors, politics, track & field, the running boom, professional running, the Cascade Runoff, Nike, Without Limits (a movie about Steve Prefontaine) and even Rajneeshees were all influenced, if not intimately shaped, by Bowerman. An incredible man who got the most out of life.

I think that this book can be enjoyed on many levels - track dorks,...more
Graham Polando
This book really could have used an editor; it has neither subject-matter focus nor a clear point of view. There are some interesting and well-told parts, particularly the origins of the 1970s running boom and the now-universally-accepted training ideas (weekly long runs, etc.) that came from it. But I don't know any more about the central subject of the story, Bill Bowerman, than I did when I started. Everyone seems to agree he was a great coach and a great man, but no one seems to know why--th...more
Koji Kawano
An Oregon legend, one cannot just label Bill Bowerman a legendary track and field coach at University of Oregon and on the 1972 Munich Olympic team. This nearly 500-page biography of Bowerman documents the stories of his life, and Kenny Moore, who was coached by Bowerman, is the perfect writer to tell the stories. Bowerman was an educator, a war hero, an innovator, a philanthropist, a husband and a father who loved the creative process of his being and “was motivated more by the journey than the...more
Sep 04, 2008 Toni rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Oregonians, runners, University of Oregon alumni
Recommended to Toni by: My Grandma
Yes, another book given to me by my Grandma. She started talking about it and what do you know she got me an autographed copy. Thanks Grandma. The perks of having a librarian in the family.

This book is a must read for Oregonians and track lovers. Bill Bowerman coached at the University of Oregon and developed running shoes for the company what would become Nike. Bowerman was a legendary coach and coached many of the world's finest athletes like Otis Davis, Dyrol Burleson, Archie San Romani, Bil...more
Being a runner from Eugene it's easy to understand the 5 stars. Also, wonderfully written.
Jim Hale
This is an in depth look of a great American success story, told by a world-class runner who also happens to be a Sports Illustrated writer. It all makes for a fascinating history and captures the times perfectly. Besides that, it makes me want to go out and run.
Vernon Chaplin
I found the first 100 pages a bit hard to get through and ended up setting the book aside for 6 months, but once the story turned to Oregon track and field I was thoroughly engaged. I believe Moore's intention was to write a complete biography, and the chapters on Bowerman's early life at the beginning of the book were necessary to paint an accurate picture of the man, so I don't fault him for including these. All in all, it was an excellent read--recommended to anyone with an interest in the hi...more
Kenny Moore, the author, was a runner at Oregon while I was there. He went on to write for Sports Illustrated and is a very good writer. Bowerman was a co-founder of Nike and an olympic track coach and single handedly started the jogging craze in this country. He was a very interesting man. (He did things to is athletes that would probably prevent him from being a coach in today's world.) He coached Steve Prefontaine, a very charismatic runner who made distance running popular in America.
This book might be interesting mostly to people who have some sort of connection to running and running history. But, I found it a great read. As someone who has been a runner for over twenty years, I never realized what a part of running history Bill Bowerman was. This is was not just a book about a man, but about a revolution in the way people viewed running and athletics. I loved reading about track and field history as is was intertwined in the life of one man and his family.
A great book about an amazing person. Kenny Moore does a great job taking the reader through Bill Bowerman's life, from Bill's early days growing up in Oregon, to his days in the 10th mountain division, to his many years coaching the University of Oregon track teams (including Steve Prefontaine), and the co-founding of Nike. Kenny Moore (a U of Oregon runner himself) provides a personal insight that makes the story all that much more interesting.
Fascinatingly detailed story of both the man and the times. He did so much more than coach. Kenny Moore tells it all well, from a good position of journalist and one-time trainer with Bowerman. He brings out the quirks in the man's character well. The chapter on his fight against a 'cult' settlement was a bit of a surprise. And the last page had me in floods, very emotional - I had gotten to like this probably hard to like guy by then.
Steve Paulson
A four because the style dragged a bit in places.

A 5 if you have any relation to running. Fascinating biography of the man who brought running to the masses.

Many very interesting insights into the history of Nike.

Unexpectedly to me, there are many details that provide a look into the old power structure of Eugene and the University of Oregon. Many of these old relationships still wield a lot of power.
Suzanne Litrel
Dec 20, 2007 Suzanne Litrel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: long distance runners, WWII fans, entrepreneurial types
Don't think I've had such an emotional response from a biography - but then again, Kenny Moore is a beautiful writer. Laughed, cried. . . choked back more tears. A sweeping, quietly told tale of American vision and rugged individuality. Moore is one of my all-time favorite writers for his ability to fade into the story and allow his subjects to shine through.
Excellent, excellent read. Everyone, not only distance runners should get something from this book. Moore does a great job of keeping a family history quick and then getting into Bowerman's life. Learning about Bowerman's life and accomplishments inspires one to be better at whatever he/she does for a living. (And it motivates you to go out and run.)
An incredible portrait of the legendary Oregon track coach and co-founder of Nike written by Oregon and Olympic distance runner Kenny Moore. This is a well researched, compelling story of the history of Track & Field, record breaking achievements, innovations in footwear/garments, training methods and well told race reports dissecting tactics.
I think you have to like running to enjoy this book. There is a lot of talk about track meets and races, since the author was a member of the Oregon Track team. There are some slow parts of the book, but ultimately it is a wonderful portrayal of the life of Bill Bowerman and his contribution to running in Oregon and throughout the world.
Wils Cain
True story of Bill Bowerman, and amazing track coach in Oregon that trained many kids that broke records and went on to the Olympics, including Steve Prefontaine. Pulled this book our on the bus and turns out the guy sitting across from me had trained with Bowerman and we had an amazing conversation! Great NY moment, all because of this book.
Detailed look at the running world in Oregon from the 20s through to the death of Bowerman in 1999. Goes over many details that only a true running devotee would appreciate. Also covers the beginnings and growth of Blue Ribbon Sports/Nike from the sole proprietorship import company to the multinational behemoth it is today.
A very interesting history of running culture in the USA and how Bill Bowerman helped to create a running movement from Eugene. It is super slow in sections dealing with the minutia of all the races run by the athletes he mentored but overall a nice glimpse into who Bowerman was as a man, coach, mentor, and creator of Nike.
Jun 24, 2008 Caitlin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Oregonians
You don't necessarily have to be interested in track and field to enjoy this book. Moore illustrates numerous Olympic Games from a track and field standpoint. The book also chronicles the development of Nike, the modern running shoe, and the beginnings of the jogging movement. An interesting read for any Oregonian.
Robin Rogers
Dec 15, 2007 Robin Rogers rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: definitely
Kenny Moore is the best historical running author, period. This book teaches you everything about the origins of running training methods in America as well as shoe innovation and track surface development. This should be required reading for every person aspiring to become a cross country or track coach.
Jeffreys' review pretty much sums it up. Kenny Moore could have peared a lot of detail from this book and created a work that had broader appeal but I'm please he didn't. I thouroughly enjoyed this detailed rendering of Bowerman, the athletes he worked with and founding of Nike.
Sep 08, 2007 Reid rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: runners
Shelves: running
I loved hearing about the history of Oregon track. It was exciting reading about the Olympics and how terrible the AAU was. The story of Prefontaine is really inspirational and Kenny Moore brings a first person perspective into the Oregon Track team and Bill Bowerman
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