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Review: Bear - The Legendary Life of Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant

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Paul "Bear" Bryant begins with Bryant's death and then flashes back to his early life growing up as a poor farm boy in Arkansas. We are presented with stories that establish Bryant's toughness, his willingness to work hard and his drive to become a winner, including the story of how he earned the nickname "Bear".

The book confirms that Bryant was a manipulative son of a bitch who loved his Chesterfield cigarettes and whiskey, but above all loved winning. It presents him as a man who would accept nothing but the best from his players and himself. He was hard when he had to be but taught that hard work was that which made champions. The Legendary Life of Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant doesn't shy away from the more controversial aspects of his coaching career, such as his tenure at Texas A&M where in his first year he drove away all of the players he considered slackers.

Fans will enjoy the book's take on college football as it evolved throughout Bryant's career, particularly the section on Texas A&M's NCAA probation for paying players. Bryant's complaint was that everyone else was doing the same, but only the Aggies were being persecuted for it. The book portrays the 'Bear' as a humble man, denying his greatness even when he surpassed Pop Warner and Amos Alonzo Stagg in all-time wins. Some of the stories about Bryant's antics will have you laughing out loud.

The only negative aspect of the book is the confusion that results when it jumps from one point in Bryant's life to the next without warning. Since it's written in a story-like style instead of a documentary format like most biographies, it's a very enjoyable read. It's understandable why the legend of Bear Bryant is very much alive and continues to grow because by the end of the book, you can't help but admire Bryant and feel much closer to him as a person.