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

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4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,300 Ratings  ·  91 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
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Hardcover, 480 pages
Published July 25th 2006 by Rodale Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,632)
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Nate
Jan 25, 2010 Nate rated it liked it
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
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Bob
Oct 01, 2007 Bob rated it it was amazing
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
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James
Nov 29, 2009 James rated it it was amazing
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
Gil Bradshaw
Apr 22, 2016 Gil Bradshaw rated it it was amazing
A book about Bill Bowerman written by one of his own accomplished former athletes turned Sports Illustrated columnist? Yes please.

Kenny Moore, an olympic distance runner himself, native Oregonian, and mentee of Bill Bowerman took this book very personal. The writing was flawless. He writes about the races and it actually takes you there. This book showed me a whole new side of Bill Bowerman. I sort of thought of him as a cranky introvert who took an already successful program and kept it going
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Aaron
Oct 20, 2014 Aaron rated it it was ok
This has less to do with Bowerman himself, but more about the impression he left on the author, a former pupil. Chapters went by, that felt like reading an exhaustive list of track results.

The parts that dealt with the emotion behind how Bowerman made his students were feeling, felt more real and honest.

The clear bias that came from within the track circle, became annoying, that people with a certain passion, were driven to a higher purpose. For example. the author's fascination with Steve Pref
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Allen Levine
Jun 18, 2014 Allen Levine rated it really liked it
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
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Matthew
Aug 22, 2014 Matthew rated it really liked it
During his 24-year tenure as head track coach at the University of Oregon, William Jay “Bill” Bowerman’s athletes won four national team titles and 24 NCAA individual titles. Under Bowerman, Oregon had a winning season every year but one, and his “Men of Oregon” set 13 world and 22 American records. His teams also boasted 33 Olympians, 38 conference champions and 64 All-Americans. Bowerman, whose name literally means “builderman” in German, was the architect of one of track and field’s greatest ...more
Emerson Wells
Nov 19, 2015 Emerson Wells rated it liked it
Who might be interested in this book? Why?
If there is one kind of person that should read this book, it is a track and field enthusiast. I do have to say however, the lesson that can be gained through learning of Bill Bowerman’s life is stronger than just for those of track and field. If you are looking for a story that provides inspiration, humor, or if you are generally into sports this would be a good book to read. We learn of a man who started out as a troublesome child, to a person of disc
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Sarah
Aug 22, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it
Not a short book, but there was a whole lot of history to tell. I actually had no idea the author was an Olympian and writer for Sports Illustrated before reading Bowerman
And the Men of Oregon. The track team combined with Oregon and Bowerman's background provided a compelling story. Bowerman's role with the 10th Mountain Division during WWII was particularly interesting. Other people who served with these troops included the first executive director of the Sierra Club, and the founder of NOLS.
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Fryeday
Jan 18, 2016 Fryeday rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
I listened to this as an audiobook and I think it would've been tougher for me to get through if I physically read it. I did actually enjoy it. I just think it was so long and some parts of it were so specific and rote that I would've had a tougher time reading vs listening.
I earmarked this book because someone sent me a list of the quintessential running books and this was on the list. I read it because I was interested in hearing about the start of Nike and I figured that would be in
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Jeffrey
Jun 27, 2008 Jeffrey rated it liked it
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
Russ
Feb 04, 2010 Russ rated it liked it
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
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Dave
Jan 10, 2012 Dave rated it liked it
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
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Nick
Feb 24, 2009 Nick rated it it was amazing
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,
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Graham Polando
Jul 10, 2014 Graham Polando rated it it was ok
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
Feb 27, 2013 Koji Kawano rated it it was amazing
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
Melissa
Feb 03, 2016 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Bill Bowerman story from a writer that was in the middle of it all. Incredibly well written. It was interesting to read about all the different people I heard my dad talk about while I was growing up.
Toni
Sep 04, 2008 Toni rated it really liked it
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
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Thompson
Aug 24, 2015 Thompson rated it liked it
A decent biography of a complex, visionary and enigmatic coach. I would have liked to see more details of Bowerman's coaching, though.
Gina
Aug 30, 2014 Gina rated it really liked it
One of my favorite biographies. Much better than most books about running. Well researched and really well written.
Kurt
Jun 27, 2014 Kurt rated it it was amazing
Being a runner from Eugene it's easy to understand the 5 stars. Also, wonderfully written.
Justin Langlois
Jan 19, 2016 Justin Langlois rated it liked it
I learned a lot from reading this book. More than just the life of Bill Bowerman, which I knew very little about, I learned about the history surrounding his life. It is this history that made the book for me. While Bowerman is a marginally interesting character, his life itself crossed such a wide array of 20th century history that I found myself wanting to learn more about all the things in which he was involved. From Olympics to WWII to the founding of Nike, Bowerman's life traced a unique an ...more
Thomas
Jun 26, 2015 Thomas rated it liked it
Shelves: read_2015
Enjoyable read -- nice to get a bit more of the history behind Nike and some of the key people who helped launch it.
Jim Hale
Jan 16, 2014 Jim Hale rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 26, 2009 Vernon Chaplin rated it really liked it
Shelves:
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
SV
Apr 15, 2016 SV added it
Great insight on coaching
Larry
Feb 01, 2008 Larry rated it really liked it
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.
Sarah
Jul 10, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: running
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.
Pat
Feb 23, 2008 Pat rated it really liked it
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.
Steve
Dec 29, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it
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.
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