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on March 12, 2011
I live in Vancouver and experienced first-hand the excitement that 'Patriot Hearts' is based on. I bought this book to relive the most amazing time of my life, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. John Furlong does a fantastic job telling us the story of what it took to organize this event; the competition for gold, power, and recognition. Visit my blog for video, pictures, and commentary on the 2010 Olympics at [...]

There are a number of passages in the book where I was on the verge of tears reliving what it was like during those 17 days. Furlong is an Irishman and he succeeds in telling a great story, presenting events in a way that rivets you to the book. I didn't want to put it down but had to sleep and work.

"Patriot Hearts" is a surprisingly inspirational book that describes what happens when you have the will to succeed. The super-human life that Furlong lived during those 17 days is a testament to the human spirit. I loved the devotion that Furlong describes in his obsession to detail and the view that these details are the linchpin to success. Furlong is the model Canadian citizen, community driven, visionary, hard working, ambitious, and although I haven't worked for the man, I get a sense of honesty from this guy.

The Olympics were an event that gave us the opportunity to demonstrate our passion for this country and dare I say it, our patriotism!! I have to catch myself as I'm expressing this in a typical Canadian fashion. I loved a passage in the book when during the national anthem John looks at his daughter to see tears running down her cheeks. I felt close to that level of pride while singing the anthem on our rapid transit trains (Sky Train) on our way to the Canada-Russia game or coming home after work on a night when Canada was playing. It was a great time to be alive in Vancouver.

Furlong was convinced the success of the games depended on touching kid's hearts all over the world but especially in Canada. He pursues this thread throughout the book and hits your emotions when he's describing the Torch relay through a Quebec Indian reserve and the priority the torch took over RCMP protocol. The reserve refused to have the RCMP on their land. The RCMP refused the torch unescorted on the reserve. Furlong got the torch on the reserve without the RCMP and the kids were happy!!

The visionary element in this book is a relentless force in "Patriot Hearts". Two examples are worth noting. For all of the criticism the NDP government took during the 90's, then Premier Glen Clarke had the vision and passion in his speech to win the games from Quebec City and Calgary during the bid process. Another example of the difference vision can make comes from Furlong's work as VANOC moved through the sponsorship process. Historical Canadian sponsorship levels were demolished by Bell's contribution. New standards in Canadian corporate support were set thanks to Furlong's passion and vision of what the games could be.

Finally, I realize the Vancouver Olympic CEO position requires devotion for success but the view that considers only the direct costs is narrow from a BC tax payer perspective. The Canada Line, Convention Centre, and Sea to Sky Highway improvement should be considered part of the Olympics. I recognize that there were federal government contributions on these projects which included BC taxpayer money among other provinces federal tax dollars. In the end I think the games were great because they enabled these developments and the international exposure the games brought to Vancouver. Some recognition of the indirect costs of these large infrastructure projects would leave a better feeling about the games. The decision not recognize these costs is understandable in achieving the support the games had during the Olympics. That's politics.

I highly recommend this book. Relive those magnificent 17 days. Read this book.
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on July 22, 2011
The book is well-written, but highly self-aggrandizing. I get the same vibe from John Furlong's book as I do from Howard Schultz and his Starbucks promo. Events that happen in the book suggest that he royally pisses some people off, but he glosses over those and puts in all the gory details of people who experience embarrassment or happen to rub Furlong the wrong way. I'm glad I read it, but think the author takes himself awfully seriously.
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One of Canada's foremost amateur sports promoters, John Furlong has collaborated with a popular sports writer, Gary Mason, to produce a very informative account of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. It is mainly Furlong's story, as the game's chief organizer and promoter, written in Mason's masterful style, that makes this book a must read for all of us who followed these Olympics from start to finish. Yes, there were moments when many of us thought that this international sporting extravaganza would never make it to Vancouver. It took the dogged efforts and farsighted vision of Furlong and VANOC (Vancouver Olympic Committee), along with some movers and shakers in the local community to make it happen. I enjoyed reading "Patriot Hearts" because it focused on the dream back at the turn of the century and proceeded to describe how it took shape under Furlong and the late Jack Poole's leadership during the following nine years. While we see the games through Furlong's eyes, at no time does he take credit for making it happen. All he claimed to have brought to the table was a genuine and persistent passion to have the games happen and leave a proud legacy for generations to come. This Olympiad, as Furlong describes it, was definitely a team effort dedicated to overcoming serious obstacles along the way: rising costs, IOC corruption and politics, and plenty of naysayers and critics. In all these matters, Furlong, often with the grudging support of his board and the various levels of government, oversaw a games which was under budget and very successful for Canadian athletes. The chapter dealing with his success in helping to unite the country behind the games is especially inspiring. On another front, the continual lack of snow and the death of a Georgian luger were two monumental challenges that took all the strength and wisdom of VANOC's leadership to overcome in bringing the games to a successful conclusion. I recommend this book to anyone who wants a fresh grasp of how effective Canadian leadership can be when responding to enormous social, political and natural pressure. Furlong is definitely an unassuming national hero in the vein of a Terry Fox.
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on March 17, 2011
My wife who has recently lost her vision and cannot read has followed the Olympics for all of her life and has wished to attend various events for years but now cannot see well enough to enjoy them did get to attend the closing ceremonies and visiting all the city venues. She thoroughly enjoyed being part of the whole celebration. Now she wishes to hear a reading of the book which I hope is coming soon for all seeing-impaired everywhere to enjoy. John Furlong would be her choice to do the reading.
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on March 30, 2011
Very informative, well written giving us a glimpse of what it takes to organize such a successful event. we ware very lucky to have John Furlong and his team at the helm. He certainly made Canada better.
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on May 9, 2011
IMO a so-so book which basically drones on with a once in a while interesting tid bit. As one who is not an Olympic Games fan maybe my review is biased but it does prove that its a corporate, political and money game. Sadly the Olympic Games do not portray what they once were. Read about half way and then started leafing through the rest of the pages trying to find something that interested me rather than the corporate dealings and media back stabbing. It does show that a lot of work goes into the Games and those involved in its production did yeoman duty.
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on April 13, 2012
This is a great book. Easy read. I would highly recommend it for anyone in a leadership position looking for some motivation.
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on January 16, 2016
Great book going into detail on a event that every Canadian should be proud of.
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