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The Genius: How Bill Walsh Reinvented Football and Created an NFL Dynasty Hardcover – 2 Sep 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 385 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (2 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400066654
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400066650
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 137,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wyn Morgan on 17 Aug 2009
Format: Hardcover
A wonderful read!
What sets this apart from other retrospectives on the late, great Bill Walsh and the 49ers of the 1980s is the depth of research the author David Harris undertook to produce this book.
It's jam-packed of anecdotes, facts and quotes to provide a more full review on Bill's life in and outside of football.
Compared to the tiresome, egotistical and factually flawed 'Glenn Dickey's 49ers' this book is in a different class, and a must for any pro-football fan.
Two criticisms mean don't give a full 5 stars: so amy of the references come from 'un-named' sources (e.g. an un-named NFL coach who was fired after only just beating the 1979 49ers; and 'one former Dallas player' commenting on life as a Niner) -these are annoying and surely 90% of these could be named without bringing a lawsuit or embarrassment! Plus, Sam Wyche did NOT receive a Super Bowl winning ring as a player for the Redskins - they LOST that Super Bowl.
That said, it's a joy to read the inside story!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I dlscovered American Football in about 1984 & I picked to niners as my team to follow. In the UK at this time, unlike today, acces to a team like the niners was just about impossible apart from one tv channel. I discovered alot about the team and about Bill Walsh, football worked in the USA through ths book. For UK niners fan this is a must read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
david harris' book gives considerable insight into the inner workings of one of the most exceptional sports coaches ever. walsh's insecurities and accomplishments are detailed throughout the chapters. while the author makes attempts to describe & explain the genius that was bill walsh, he doesn't shy away from examining how walsh struggled with his task - and often failed to grasp the consequences of his decisions until it was too late. while it is not an autobiography, the book reads as though it is one. some may feel that it therefore is mutton dressed as lamb; however, no one could argue that it fails to give the reader a greater understanding of how the 49ers' dynasty of the 80s was built.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 25 reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Coach of the Decade (the 1980's) 14 Sep 2008
By C. Hutton - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Bill Walsh was the brilliant, insecure coach who won immortality with the the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980's. Mr. Harris follows his career from the Bengals of Paul Brown to Stanford (and other stops in-between) to the 49ers. He perfected an air attack that became known as the West Coast Offense and drafted the players to carry it out (Joe Montana, Dwight Clark, Jerry Rice, etc). The book is heavy on football and light on his personal life which is a pity -- he was eccentric enough that his personal life merits a deeper look. Having died a year ago of leukemia, Walsh won three Super Bowls (1982, 1985, 1989) in his tenure as coach before retiring on his own terms. Mr. Harris interviewed the coach extensively before his death and got the details right.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A Behind the Scenes Look with Some Irritating Quirks 12 Nov 2008
By J. A. Walsh - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Harris does a really nice job of telling how Walsh's timing passing game and West Coast offense - the corrollaries and descendants of which are on display in every game every weekend in the NFL of today - "reinvented" football and created the 49ers 80's dynasty.

While I think the book offers a lot more for the 49er fan than the general NFL fan, the story of Walsh's rise, the development of his philosophy, his early NFL career as an assistant, his college work, his unlikely rise to Head Coach and GM of the 49ers without an NFL win on his resume and the circumstances that saw him bring together the talent and oversee the Montana/Craig/Lott/Rice 49ers run of Super Bowls are all interesting enough to hold interest.

There is a lot of Walsh's own voice coming through in the book, and that makes you wonder about the author's motives in book entitled "The Genius," where there was clearly a lot of reliance on subject-generated info.

Also, Harris has a habit of not identifying other sources -- even quoted sources -- by name. He'll call someone "a 49er lineman" or "one of Walsh's teammates," and it just seems a little strange.

Like "Patriot Reign," or the library of Yankee books out there, this book is probably a real winner for fans of the team. All in all, I don't think there is enough other info on Walsh or NFL/football philosophy here to merit much more than a so-so rating.

In other words, I don't think this is football's "Moneyball," a book that takes any fan of the sport behind the curtain to get a look at the industry, and which tells a personal story in a compelling enough story to hold interest.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Well written account of Walsh's football life 31 Oct 2008
By P. Dunlop - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I grew up a 49ers fan and was in hog heaven during the Walsh era. The Genius is a well-told story of how Bill Walsh came to direct the 49ers to four Super Bowl victories from 1979-1989.

The author takes readers through Walsh's early years and describes his days as a frustrated high school and college quarterback. He then moves on to show Walsh's road to coaching in the NFL. The most crucial bump in that road occurred in Cincinnati, where Walsh had worked for several years as a sort of assistant head coach under Paul Brown. When Brown retired, he chose someone else to assuming his head coaching duties, delivering a electrifying jolt to Walsh. Brown then told Walsh he was staying on as an assistant, like it or not, and that he'd never be a head coach in the NFL (Walsh's contract was up and he left quickly). The shock nearly ended Walsh's coaching career, but probably also provided some of the drive that resulted in his rise to Genius status. How fitting that two of Walsh's Super Bowl victories would come against the Bengals.

This book is very well-written and difficult to put down if you were a fan of Walsh and/or the 49ers during the 1980s. The author makes use of interviews with players and coaches and uses many secondary books, newspaper clippings, etc. Although we hear that Walsh was a diverse fellow with significant interests and connections outside football, the book never quite proves that point. My guess, only a guess, is those details were cut to keep the focus primarily on football and how Walsh truly did reinvent how teams coach and deal with players. The book truly shines in this area, although it depicts Bill Walsh as a moody and insecure genius. The man was certainly conflicted in his relationships with many players and also with then-49er owner, Eddie DeBartolo.

One interesting tidbit. The book shows that Walsh and quarterback Joe Montana were not always on the same page as coach and player. Their friendship truly bloomed after both were retired from the game, talking and playing golf regularly. Montana was one of two who spoke at Walsh's memorial service. Curious, then, that Montana does not appear to have been interviewed for the book...although many of his contemporaries, including Ronnie Lott, Dwight Clark, etc., were. I thought that was strange. Still a great book and recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Excellent biography 12 Mar 2011
By Robert Beattie - Published on
Format: Paperback
Over the past year I've read and then re-read six books about two coaches, Vince Lombardi and Bill Walsh: Building a Champion by Bill Walsh with Glenn Dickey, The Genius by David Harris, The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh with Steve Jamison and Craig Walsh, Run to Daylight by Vince Lombardi and W. C. Heinz, When Pride Still Mattered by David Maraniss, and That First Season by John Eisenberg.

For what they were, and what they were supposed to be, I judge each to be excellent. I applaud each of these books.

I was fascinated by coaches Walsh and Lombardi taking their teams from "worst to first" in only three NFL seasons stories, the comparisons and contrasts in their professional coaching and general manager methods, and by the surprising parallels in their personal journeys.

Harris's The Genius keeps me returning to it. I've read a LOT of biographies in the course of my six decades of reading, comparatively few about sports figures. The Genius is not only excellent as a football book, it is excellent as a biography. The author worked with what he had to work with and did a marvelous job. Highly recommended.

Bravo, David Harris. Well done.

Robert Beattie
New York Times bestselling author
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Only So-So 17 Dec 2008
By James Eason - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book focuses on the blow-by-blow of the 49er seasons Walsh coached. It gives little insight as to how he developed his revolutionary offensive concepts or to how he molded three teams into Super Bowl champions. There is a lot of repetition -- every loss is devastating, owner Eddie DeBartolo raged after each defeat, there are nine counties in the Bay Area. The author neglects to name names in a way that makes me wonder if he's researched his stories about drafts and games (he credits an interception in the 49ers crushing 49-3 defeat to the Giants to "a linebacker." That nameless linebacker was Lawrence Taylor.)

More insight into Walsh's personnel tactics, game plan concepts, and coaching day strategies would make this a much better book.
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