One of the best sportswriters/magazine writers of the last few decades is one Kenny Moore. Sports Illustrated took a serious blow when he cut back (or eliminated?) his writing for that publication. Moore is also rather obscure as his only other book, "Best Efforts," is out of print. It is a fabulous collection of shorts stories about distance running.
Though quantity may be lacking in Moore's book-writing career, he sets a world record here in his excellent biography of Bill Bowerman, his coach at the University of Oregon.
Bowerman was quite the Renaissance Man and ahead of his time, viewing coaching not from a sadistic point of view, but rather one that looks out for an athlete's best physical interests. Bowerman believed rest was as important as hard work so that an athlete may be sharp on meet day. Moore captures this well. In addition, Moore points out Bowerman's forward thinking in being the first to look at rubberized tracks in the U.S., as well as his inventing of the waffle running shoes and co-founding NIKE.
Moore's take looks deep into Bowerman's personality. At first I thought Moore was too forgiving of some of Bowerman's faults, namely his stubborness, the way he could turn on his athletes, his ritual of branding athletes in the sauna with his metal keys, and peeing on them in the shower. Moore it appears wants the reader to make his own judgements as the author's bias and admiration for Bowerman comes through. However, Moore does note that Bowerman could turn on his athletes and co-workers at NIKE rather quickly.
Excellent biographies show the entire person, warts and all. Perhaps we don't get all the warts, but Bowerman is shown as being human, not super human. His wonderful wife, Barbara, is the steadfast, logical person of the family and helps keeps things on the level. Moore also writes this well.
In addition, Moore -- an Olympic Marathoner himself (4th in Munich) -- writes of a lost time of American distance running, when the money was not there and neither were the quality shoes (thus the invention of NIKE). Moore, along with Frank Shorter, Steve Prefontaine, and many of Bowerman's athletes set the stage for today's American distance runners.
Prefontaine's death is chronicled in detail and Moore (a friend of Pre's) seems to remember that tragic time like it was yesterday. Actually, all the detail from that time is in sharp detail in this book.
Bowerman is such an interesting character that even non-track fans would find this book interesting (though some track lingo might lose the average jogger or non-runner).
A fascinating take on an intersting, dynamic charcter and the time in which he lived.