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A Season on the Brink: A Year with Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  7,577 ratings  ·  158 reviews
"A Season on the Brink" chronicles the basketball season that John Feinstein spent following the Indiana Hoosiers and their fiery coach, Bob Knight. Knight granted Feinstein an unprecedented inside look at college basketball -- with complete access to every moment of the season. Feinstein saw and heard it all -- practices, team meetings, strategy sessions, and mid-game hud ...more
Paperback, 337 pages
Published November 15th 1989 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1986)
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 ·  7,577 ratings  ·  158 reviews

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Feb 05, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people without TVs that are forced to read about basketball games instead of watching them
This book proves 2 things without a doubt:

1. Bob Knight is an asshole
2. You can read about a game or see it live, but basketball is best enjoyed on TV in the comfort of your own home.

The end.
Apr 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
Actually a pretty well-written book, but two stars because after 308 pages I have no idea why Knight was such a good coach. I know he's extremely emotional, dictatorial, self-centered and obsessive while also being a pretty good-seeming guy, but I have no idea how he became the winningnest coach in D1 college ball history. ...more
Ben Estes
Dec 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
A brilliant portrait of perhaps the ultimate "Complicated Man" figure in sports. Feinstein was granted incredible access to the 1985-86 Indiana basketball team and he took full advantage of it, resulting in an excellent behind-the-scenes tale of the team and all its personalities. The star, of course, is the indelible Bobby Knight, famous (or infamous) for his verbal tirades, harsh demeanor, and apparent anger problems. It's striking to read A Season on the Brink all these years later, in both s ...more
Tom Stamper
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
John Feinsten took a sabbatical from the Washington Post and spent the 1985-86 season embedded with the Indiana Hoosiers basketball team. Coach Knight already had 2 National Championships trophies, but was coming off a horrendous season at Indiana. Despite being preseason number 4, the Hoosiers didn't even make the 64 team March Madness tournament that year. Coaching was starting to become a chore and he wasn't sure he had enough talent on his team to compete in the Big Ten. These were guys that ...more
Dec 11, 2014 rated it liked it
I am not an athlete nor a huge sports fan, but I do read a wide variety of genres and have enjoyed some athletic nonfiction previously. This book came to me highly recommended, but in the end fell a bit short for me. I was curious about why I didn't find this book as good as others had said and spent a fair amount of time reflecting on that. In the end, I think it is because I struggled with the story itself, and not with the telling of it. I did learn some new things about Bobby Knight, about h ...more
Mar 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
stop the presses!
Bob Knight is an asshole......
Dec 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book by John Feinsten really shows what A great coach Bob Knight was. As an IU fan reading this was very enjoyable, and interesting. This book really shows that Bob Knight cared about his players and wanted them to succeed. He yelled at them, because he cared about them, and wanted them to get better. For example a quote he said is "The problem is you aren't hurt enough. This shows that Bob Knight wanted them to work harder and be the best they could.
In this book there are a lot of ironi
Nov 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
I actually listened to the audiobook read by the author instead of reading it, but I think it made it more enjoyable. Growing up as an IU fan in the heyday of Bob Knight I loved reading this. It is an interesting insight into the mindset of a consummate competitor. I also enjoyed the insights into the people around the program and all of the connectivity in the college BB world. Fair warning, there is a not insignificant amount of language, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone. I will probably rea ...more
Robert Poor
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"A Season on the Brink: A Year with Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers" by John Feinstein is a remarkable book. Remarkable for the breadth and depth of access Bob Knight granted to a journalist and remarkable for the behind the scenes look at, despite his profanity, bullyness and mercurial mood swings, one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time. "Season" follows Bob Knight throughout the tumultuous 1985-1986 season, a year before Knight and IU again win the NCAA tournament, and a year a ...more
Joseph Stieb
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
A good listen for college basketball nuts. Covers the Indiana Hoosiers in a fairly unremarkable season in classic Feinstein fashion. I think my understanding of Bob Knight didn't change so much as it broadened. He would still be probably the last famous basketball coach I would choose to play for. He has reprehensible views on gender, and no one should be surprised that a faux-macho guy like Knight gravitated to a fraud like Trump. However, there are things about Coach Knight that make him diffe ...more
Oct 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, 2020, sports
As an IU fan, John Feinstein's inside look at the 1986 Indiana basketball season is a must read. It's a book where those that love Bob Knight will find more to like about him and those who hate him will find more to fuel their fire. ...more
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I came in with low expectations of this book, perhaps something to take a peek at a few pages and kinda leave it there. Instead, I consumed the entire book in one sitting, as it was an absolutely enjoyable read and kept me interested throughout.

The book itself is basically a documentary of the 1985-86 Indiana Hoosiers, who had disappointed mightily in the year beforehand, and thus, needed a makeup season, not just for the school, who expects their basketball team to contend for national and conf
Andrew Tranch
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great read. I was fascinated by the behind the scenes all access pass to such a legendary sports figure. I appreciate knights leadership abilities, and the candid view that the reader gets into both the good times and the bad. Knight of course has his flaws, but he is clearly a brilliant coach who gets the most out of his players. We can likely all learn something from knight. The only reason I have it four stars was because I didn't write love the level of detail that the author went into on ev ...more
Parker Dalton
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
So fascinating to read this book about Bob Knight. 2nd most wins in college in college basketball history, just behind his former player Coach K. He is such an enigma. Fiery temper, little control of his emotions, demanding perfection, and he gets the absolute most out of his teams ability and heart. Despite how unbelievably hard he is on his teams, most former players say he is the best college coach ever. Reading this book reminded me a lot of Walter Isaacson's book on Steve Jobs. In fact, bot ...more
May 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Considering there was an ESPN movie made about this (that I never watched), I assumed the book was better. The book is about Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers the year after they flamed out in 1984-85. This book shows that Bobby Knight is a toxic person who played mind games with his players, didn’t praise players until they were gone (and that was to put down players currently on the team), and he also was incapable of driving his son the same way. The book tries to show his positives, his humor, a ...more
John Rose
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really good read on Coach Knight. Lets you inside on the everyday interactions of a division one basketball team. While Coach crossed the line with some of his actions, there is no doubting he is perhaps the greatest college bball coach of all time. He never cheated, never had the best players, but won the majority of his games. A true teacher of the game and its fundamentals, and I believe these translate directly to life lessons. As a former college bball player I only wish I would have been g ...more
Danny Theurer
Dec 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Brilliant concept - I cannot imagine just dedicating myself to one team for an entire year to produce a single work. This book was engaging and worthy of the hype it's gotten throughout the years. Why didn't I rate it higher? My issue with it is the same as the TV series Breaking Bad: Every time you want to begin pulling for someone, they become a villain or too pathetic to defend. I felt as though I knew a lot about Bob Knight before this book and now, I could never cheer for the success of a t ...more
Bradley Aden
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A look inside the Indiana program in the 1980's and head coach Bob Knight. The book explores his interesting ideology of fear base coaching and the overwhelming success which it breeds. A detailed look at a true winning coach inside a basketball crazed state. While Feinstein enjoyed unreal access to the team, you can tell that the majority of Knight's worst moments were left out of the book. Still worth a read. ...more
Paul Allan
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Believe this book was ground zero for sports teams allowing embedded authors. Was between books and wanted to read it again as it's been a while. Bobby Knight allowed John Feinstein unparalleled access and the book lifted the curtain on what was going on behind the scenes with the University of Indiana men's basketball program. Looking back on Al McGuire's forward was telling as to what might transpire for Coach Knight down the road. The book was just as good the second time around. ...more
Mar 31, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Why one star? Feinstein gets an A for sports writing and an F for psychological insight. Bob Knight is obviously homosexual and Feinstein either recognizes it and refuses to write about it or missed this obvious fact entirely and failed as a biographer. Too bad that both were raised in a pathetically paternalistic culture that can’t accept and celebrate the exquisite diversity of the human race.
Jeff Alexy
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting look into what college basketball is really like under Bob Knight. The yelling, the cursing, the mind games. The book doesn't hold back at all.

The books gets a little repetitive, but I think that is just the nature of this type of book. They practiced, the coach screamed, the team played a game, they practiced, the coach screamed, etc. But overall, I think it was a good book and I found it very interesting.
Brian L.
Oct 29, 2019 rated it did not like it

I’d always heard about this book, but never taken the time to read. I can’t understand the hype. Very boring and repetitive, with little insight into the players, or Knight.

I would place this one notch above reading the box scores for the season. I kept waiting for it to get better.

Essentially, it is a one paragraph recap of each game, followed by details about how Knight was mad, what type of practice they had, etc.

Taylor Mueller
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
We well know about Bob Knight's ugly side. I would have liked to have seen more of his other side...unless Feinstein just honestly never whitnessed it. Very interesting and entertaining read. Would have liked to have heard more quotations from Knight's practices particularly in regards to X's and O's as well as good quotations to think on ...more
Dave Cottenie
A fascinating trip trough a season of Indiana basketball with one of the most infamous coaches in college basketball history. This roller coaster is brilliantly penned and leaves the reader in the unique situation of wondering if Bob Knight is the protagonist or antagonist. Whether Knight is brilliant or insane is left to the reader to digest.
Christoffer Sorensen
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting perspective of leadership. An old school style of military and discipline which is similar to military. A look at the gray area of discipline and motivating properly and taking it too far.
Mary Lou
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you like reading about sports figures, you'll enjoy this book. It is written clearly and flows easily and quickly. You will love and hate Bob Knight. What an interesting and complex man. Feinstein's writing is excellent. I'm not a big basketball fan, but you don't have to be to enjoy this book. ...more
Jim Townsend
An excellent book, one of the best sports books I've ever read. An inside look at life in the mid-1980s with University of Indiana basketball and coach Robert Montgomery Knight, this debut by sportswriter John Feinstein is a must-read. ...more
Bob Adolfson
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nothing too surprising and think I would have LOVED to play for him
Dustin Griffin
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great fly on the wall look inside the locker room of one of the most secretive and revered locker rooms in college basketball history.
Joe Wentzler
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers. Sounds cool to me.
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John Feinstein is one of the nation’s most successful and prolific sports authors who has written 24 books to date. His most recent work Are You Kidding Me? , written with Rocco Mediate, was released on May 18, 2009, and is presently on the shelf at bookstores everywhere. In addition, he is an award-winning columnist and regular contributor in both radio and television.

John Feinstein is a 1977 gr

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