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The Genius: How Bill Walsh Reinvented Football and Created an NFL Dynasty
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The Genius: How Bill Walsh Reinvented Football and Created an NFL Dynasty

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  230 ratings  ·  29 reviews
The Genius is the gripping and definitive account of Bill Walsh’s career and how he built a football dynasty from the rubble of a fallen franchise. David Harris gives a stellar account of the silver-haired sophisticate from humble working-class roots who was hired as head coach and general manager of the San Francisco Forty Niners in January 1979 and became the architect o ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published September 2nd 2008 by Random House (first published 2008)
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Jan 03, 2009 Spiros rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who dont read football books
Shelves: gifteduponme
I don't actually give a shit about football: I am pretty sure the last book I read about football was BRIAN'S SONG, back when I was in elementary school. I find that I lack the attention span for the NFL, as it is currently constituted; it lacks a narrative arc. Every year, your team plays 16 games, then tries to figure out who it can resign, who it has to cut, which superstar to overpay, which unproven free-agents to sign to fill the gaps in its roster. For the ultimate team sport, this is extr ...more
My one complaint, as a sports fan, about this book is that, when describing different football games, he would hardly ever mention the opposing players' names. A minor pet peeve, I admit. But then I kept finding myself thinking, "Now, who was the Bengals' quarterback in '85." A bit annoying.
David K
Great Book (Thoughts From a 3rd Grade Teacher)

When I was following football many years ago, I really didn't like the 49rs. They were too perfect, and I viewed Bill Walsh as a cold and calculating coach (too much of an intellectual). But reading about him so many years later, I found that he was indeed an exceptional coach and an exceptional man. I am a third grade teacher and I am trying to teach and train my students to become the future leaders of our country. I want them to have good work eth

"The Genius" is a decent enough book, but it felt a bit incomplete. The sole focus of the book is really Walsh's time with the 49'ers, everything else is glossed over. After Walsh leaves the 49'ers you go straight to the chapter detailing his funeral, interspersed with bits of his post Niners career. While the book does spend some time chronicling the things that made Walsh "different" as a football coach, it's not an X's and O's book. There's no real history on the evolution of Walsh's "West Co
Tom Gase
A pretty good read and a must read for all 49er fans. This book is about Bill Walsh, aka the Genius. In the 1980s Walsh guided the 49ers back from a horrible team to one of the best in the league as he won Super Bowls for the 1981, 84 and 88 seasons. This book guides the reader through all those seasons as well as the ones in between including the 1983 championship game loss to that team from Washington and in 1988 (for the 1987 season) when they lost unexpectantly to the Vikings and created a Q ...more
Fairly readable recap of the 49ers dynasty of the 80's from the coach's perspective. Steered clear of what I usually find to be the boring parts ("his grandparents were immigrants who doted on young.......").

I don't think the author regularly writes about sports, or at any rate he does not come across as a football expert. I didn't learn anything about the West Coast offense that I didn't already know, though narrative summaries of individual regular season games from 25 years ago are plentiful
It took me a while to get around to this book. And though I have read more than a few sports related I was a bit apprehensive as they can tend to get bogged down in the details of the games. This book offered more of the same but there were some good insights into what Bill Walsh the man was all about also.

I had moved to the Bay Area in 1980 just as Bill had gotten settled into the role of budding genius. It did not look that way from early on. It was truly a magical time to be part of the spiri

...the entire Forty Niners' approach was based on self-respect and self-esteem ... Performance enhancement was the theme of everything we did. ... first, appropriate behavior is described. ... The behavior (skill) is then performed under the coach's watchful eye. the behavior is critiqued by the coach in very specific terms. All appropriate behavior is reinforced. If the the skill was not performed correctly, the appropriate movements were described again by the coach to the player. ... The coac
The title of the book implies that this is a feel-good happy story of Bill Walsh and the 49ers -- but that's almost exactly what this book is NOT. The book doesn't focus on X's and O's of football plays (probably want to see the appendix of Walsh's "Building a Champion" for a few), the technical aspects of coaching (see Walsh's "Finding the Winning Edge"), or even a game-by-game recount of the 49ers games (though this book does come close on this last mark).

This book brings out the darker side o
Decent biography but one which I wish had spanned more time and gone into much greater detail. Over 350 pages or so, Harris summarizes the years Walsh spent as the 49'ers head coach/president between '79 and '88. If you're as unaware of Bill Walsh as I was, then this is a great start. Every 49'ers season in his head coaching career is retold and some major games are described at length, with insights from Walsh, the players and excerpts from the press.

But if you're more interested in how Walsh
I've been a 49ers fan since the 1984 championship season and so I'm predisposed to like this book, but I was happily surprised that it was actually an engaging, interesting account of the coach that brought the 49ers to prominence in the 80s and established their dynasty. Harris spent a lot of time with Walsh before his death, getting, in a sense, his death bed confessions, and so the book gives glimpses into Walsh's private life to which most biographers would have lacked access. I was surprise ...more
Josh Liller
Disappointing. It seems half a Walsh biography and half a story of the 49ers dynasty, but felt like it covered neither sufficiently.

From the perspective of the 49ers dynasty, the book cuts off after Walsh's retirement following their 3rd Super Bowl win leaving the team aspect hanging.

As for Walsh, his pre-49er days feel glossed over and while the book does a good job talking about the way he coached his players, it barely scratches the surface of his famous West Coast Offense that remains signif
Shannon Lo
This was an awesome book! It gives lots of details that I didn't know about Bill Walsh and the challenges he had with Eddie Debartalo and himself. I highly recommend this book!
Not a bad read, but probably only really appealing to a Forty-Niner fan. Then it's fun to read about and relieve some of the better memories from that period (especially since most of them are from just before I became a Niners fan).

I would have actually like more on the football side. The subtitle "How Bill Walsh Reinvented Football and Created an NFL Dynasty" isn't sufficiently explored--I would have like a lot more in depth discussion and description of his ideas and changes. As it was, the
Dec 29, 2008 {dvc} rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: a-w
I would like to have seen this book go more into the technicalities and strategies that Bill Walsh used to craft his football legacy, but it's a great book if you're interested in the 49ers of the 1980's and what it takes to be the head coach, GM and president of an NFL football team.
A fantastic biography about Bill Walsh's career, his struggle to break into the NFL, the way that his philosophies changed the game, the principles he used to create success, and the dangers that can be created by obsessively pursuing perfection.
Oliver Bateman
It's hardly a masterpiece a la Maraniss's biography of Lombardi, but it's far less pretentious and much easier to read. The emphasis, of course, is on Walsh's years with the 49ers, but really, this is all the Bill Walsh biography you'll ever need.
A solid history of Walsh's coaching career with the '49ers, and the components of his approach to the game--on and off the field--that enabled him to take one of the worst teams in the NFL and lead it to three Super Bowl victories.
Steve Cassinelli
I was a little young when Bill Walsh's dynasty began, but this book brought it all back. Interesting to read about the interactions between Walsh and Eddie DeBartolo (not always on the best of terms), and insights into his coaching style.
Logan Hippard
Good book. Interesting portrayal of the 49ers coach as a driven genius, but yet insecure and often despondent about his abilities to coach and game-plan. Great read for any sportsphile.
This book looking at Bill Walsh's time with the San Francisco 49ers. The book starts off with promise but the momentum fades towards the end and just glossing over the seasons.
Doug Campbell
very eye opening story of a man i look up to. the author did a great job telling the story of the legendary head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
Shawn Paxson
Very insightful book. Laughed glued and cried a little. Whether you're a football fan niner fan or whatever very enjoyable book.
Interesting. He truly was an innovator of the sport and a management model for generations to come.
More interesting than I expected. Didn't much like reliving XIX, though.
Slot Right
The man who inspired Slot Right from the beginning.
Joe Tynan
Been picking at this one for a while . . .
Jim Swike
A Great Coach, a great story
Jan 07, 2009 Frank is currently reading it
THe second best Football book I have ever read. CHronicles Bill Walsh and how he built a football dynasty from scratch. It goes beyond football. Walsh pioneered many teaching and philosphical strategies that were unheard of in his day. He wasent afraid to defy the conventional wisdom of his day. Now 30 years later everyone tries to emulate his tactics, philosophies, class, and style.
Luke marked it as to-read
Nov 24, 2015
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