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From America’s premier sportswriter, the definitive, #1 New York Times bestselling biography of Joe Paterno.

Joe Posnanski’s biography of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno follows in the tradition of works by Richard Ben Cramer on Joe DiMaggio and David Maraniss on Vince Lombardi. Having gained unprecedented access to Paterno, as well as the coach’s personal notes and files, Posnanski spent the last two years of Paterno’s life covering the coach, on (and off) the field and through the scandal that ended Paterno’s legendary career.

Joe Posnanski, who in 2012 was named the Best Sportswriter in America by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame, was with Paterno and his family as a horrific national scandal unfolded and Paterno was fired. Within three months, Paterno died of lung cancer, a tragic end to a life that was epic, influential, and operatic.

Paterno is the fullest description we will ever have of the man’s character and career. In this honest and surprising portrait, Joe Posnanski brings new insight and understanding to one of the most controversial figures in America.

From Publishers Weekly

Sep 17, 2012 – Between bouts of coughing and wheezing, the late Joe Paterno told Sports Illustrated senior writer Posnanski (The Soul of Baseball), "You picked a hell of a time to write about a football coach." Indeed, the author had relocated to State College, Penn., in 2011 and was given prime access to write what was intended to be the definitive biography of this driven man. But by year's end, JoePa's legacy was overshadowed by a horrific child sexual abuse scandal involving former Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky a man Paterno never liked. The head coach was subsequently fired, and died a few months later. But Posnanski doesn't dwell on that last tumultuous year he gives the man's life its full due: Paterno served in the Army, played football at Brown University, was named Penn State's head coach in 1966 (a deal sealed with a handshake), and went on to become one of the all-time winningest football coaches. He was praised by the press, became a fundraising dynamo, and made sure his players received a good education for Paterno, college football was about "Teaching young men how to live." After the scandal broke and shortly before he died, Paterno implored Posnanski an accomplished writer with an unenviable task to "write the truth." The author's straightforward treatment of the case might be the focus for contemporary readers, but his fair assessment of Paterno's life and illustrious career will stand the test of time. Photos.

Customer Reviews


I, like many who love and respect Joe Paterno, needed answers, understanding, and closure as to the events of this past year. This book helps to define Joe Paterno's roll and his understanding in these recent, horrible, tragic events. This book also tells of a wonderful and very rewarding life that ended like a Greek tragedy. I believe this book will serve as a valuable tool when historians look back and study these times.

The man, the myth, the reality

Superb read. Joe's wish was fulfilled, 'Write the truth'
Captures what fellow alumni already knew. We are Penn State. We are a community of diverse individuals that are not just about football, we are a proud community of individuals trying to make the world a better place.


Great read and finally a little truth in this story.

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  • $6.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Aug 21, 2012
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Seller: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.
  • Print Length: 416 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Version: 1.0
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings