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4.15  ·  Rating details ·  1,010 ratings  ·  144 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
Hardcover, 402 pages
Published August 21st 2012 by Simon Schuster
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4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,010 ratings  ·  144 reviews

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Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 07, 2012 rated it liked it
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
I'm a Penn State graduate and as most Penn Staters will attest to, Joe Paterno was a rock god. I'll never forget when he walked past me one day and cheerily said hello. I almost fell over--the legendary JoePa acknowledging me...a lowly student? We were proud of Joe. Unlike many, if not most college football coaches, he took education seriously. His players filled the library, studying and meeting with their tutors (one of my friends was a tutor--Joe wasn't just putting on a show). He was a chara ...more
Brian Prosser
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Tracy Jenkins
Aug 25, 2012 rated it really liked it

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
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 10, 2012 rated it liked it
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 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, non-fiction
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
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Joe Posnanski was working on this book with the full cooperation of his subject when the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke in 2011. That investigation (and the massive damage it did to Joe Paterno's reputation) threw off the bio Posnanski was writing and it shows. The story of a coach who once stood for academic excellence was lost and the attempts to tie in the end of JoePa's career and life feel another story was grafted onto the original. At his best Posnanski is one of the best sportswriters aliv ...more
Jon Moeller
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
After waiting for the lynch mob to quiet, I just read this book. It was a great read and provided insight to how JoePa was. Still does not provide the reasons why he never followed up with the horrid allegations. This book showed his way of coaching, his way of conducting himself and how he ran his program. It provided the hope and conclusion-- that there was no cover up by JoePa, but he was derelict, when he needed to step up. It is a shame that he never followed through and he could have stood ...more
Doug Sullivan
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Posnanski's treatment of Paterno is fair, pulling no punches but giving no favors. I have admired Posnanski's writing since his days in KC covering the Chiefs and Royals. Having such unique access to Paterno and his family in those tragic last days that marked in then of JoPa's career and life was astounding and the author could have been influenced by the sentiment of a man's need to be remembered more for his coaching success than a scandal that harmed so many. But he was committed to the trut ...more
Michael Vincent
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Easy to read and enough behind the scenes insights to keep it interesting. This seemed to be a fair treatment of Paterno's life, football career, and the tragic scandal that ended his career. You can always learn when reading about leaders, even if you disagree with some of their tactics and don't like their weaknesses. I never like it, though, when foul language is quoted, as in a few cases in this book. Might have given it a five star rating without this.
Jul 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book and have not changed any opinions I had on Paterno, the Sandusky situation or Penn State in general. I felt bad for Posnanski, because this was NOT the book he intended on writing.
Cathy Crouch
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
Another great book by Joe Posnanski.
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Todd Stockslager
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 19, 2012 rated it liked it
I've always wanted to know more about JoePa's life obviously but more from a historical background. I didn't know who he was or what Penn State football was until I went there. I wanted to know about the history of the team and the greatness etc. But I never got around to actually buying a book on him. Now with the timing of this new book after the scandal, it seemed appropriate. But again, I didn't necessarily seek out to get this book. I happened to see it on the new shelf at the library and d ...more
Dec 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
The whole Sandusky scandal seemed so utterly opposed to everything I understood Joe Pa to stand for, I couldn't understand it at all. I picked up this book because, according to the description, the author was with the Paterno family during the last few months of his life, including the whole mess. I wanted to understand his perspective.

So far, it's everything I wanted to hear, so much so that I'm having a hard time believing it. I do want Joe to really have been the hero I looked up to. The ne
May 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“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
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
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
The book has been napalmed by critics determined to prove how outraged they are about the scandal that engulfed Paterno's final days. And to be honest, it feels a bit rushed. If Posnanski had been given the extra half year of work originally allocated, I think this would be a much better book. It's a bit sloppy in parts and needed a lot more interviews with Paterno critics but ran into the problem that very few of the people who knew him well had bad things to say about him and those who did wer ...more
Michael Shaw
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Lauren B
Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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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.

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“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
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