Book review: Bowerman and the Men of Oregon, by Kenny Moore

Bowerman and the Men of Oregonthis book is fabulous!  It is meant to be experienced by anyone who enjoys biographies or is interested in the life of the legendary track coach and Nike founder.

As the book says, “No man has affected more runners in more ways than Bill Bowerman.”  A rich and engaging tale, it spans the time from Bowerman’s grandparents’ life to Bowerman’s own death. I can’t imagine a more definitive work.

The story is written by Kenny Moore, a former University of Oregon Bowerman track star, Olympic marathoner, and cowriter/coproducer of Without Limits the story of Steve Prefontaine. Fun trivia, Bowerman used Moore’s foot to design the famous Cortez running shoe.

1972 Cortez Running Shoe
1972 Cortez Running Shoe

Because Moore had a personal relationship with Bowerman, the story is told with heart, admiration, details, and a love for the sport that Bowerman made his legacy.

In addition to Moore’s personal knowledge, the story is written with the permission of Bowerman’s family and Nike.  It is full of interviews from fellow track students, neighbors, friends, running colleagues, Nike colleagues – including Phil Knight, and Bill’s sweetheart (and wife) of seventy years. You meet a true man, and all that made him both incredible and flawed.

During his 24-years as U of O track coach, he won four national titles and his athletes set 13 world and 22 American records.  But his life is not just about him.  It is also a beautiful history lesson about running in the United States.

There is Prefontaine, Nike and the waffle shoe.  All things familiar to me and associated in my mind with Bowerman.

What I did not know was that Bowerman witnessed the Miracle Mile race between Landy and Bannister.  Bowerman was a proactive force in the U.S.A. jogging movement that swept our nation in 1963.  He was a crucial leader in the fight for the rights of athletes.  Bowerman’s training methods, which included easy runs and rest days, were controversial at the time.  He coached our Olympic teams so many times that I lost count while reading the book.  And he was far more than “just” a coach during the tragedy that befell the  Munich Games.

Published by my favorite house, Rodale, the book tops 400 pages.  I could have done with a little less detail on all the track meets and every race, but that’s just me.  For track junkies, I am sure the stories are more than welcome.

By far one of my favorite running books and favorite biographies of all time.


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Helen Hunt says:

    Very nice review-
    I will check out the book from the publisher and see if we can get someone to review it for us on our book review site.

    Nice blog by the way 🙂

  2. HAZEM says:

    Very Nice Blog.. with my best wishes.


  3. runrunrunrun says:

    Thank you, Helen and Hazem


    What is your book review site? I’d like to check it out.


  4. siliconcowboy says:

    Julianne, great review and wow does that bring back memories for this novice runner and UofO alumni. To us Ducks, Bowerman was legend. Pre was legend, and so was Kenny. Running was everything, we had the best cross country course anywhere, winding along the Willamette River. It was even in the classrooms: my graduate journalism instructor, the editor of Running magazine, broke the mold for sports journalism by hiring Hunter S. Thompson to cover the Hawaii Marathon (which he documented in The Curse Of Lono, a very funny book). What memories!!! THanks for the review…Dan

  5. runrunrunrun says:

    Thank you, Dan!! How great to have an honest to goodness Duck comment!


  6. siliconcowboy says:

    Oh yeah, in my freshman and sophomore years, I lived in Smith Hall, a dormitory that was right next to the track stadium. We were so close you could hear the runners’ footsteps as they rounded the turn. When an event was happening and the weather was warm, every resident of every dorm in the quad could hear the play-by-play as the announcer called the meet. Crowds at a track meet at UofO — any track meet at the UofO — were always huge and very engaged. It was really special.

  7. runrunrunrun says:

    Love this! I feel like I am sitting around a camp fire and you are telling me stories. Thanks so much.


  8. Dan says:

    I have to say i enjoy your site too, its refreshing to see the runner’s perspective of parks and trails around here. thanks so much!!

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