The Captain Class : The Hidden Force That Creates the World's Greatest Teams
by Sam Walker

Overview - A bold new theory of leadership drawn from elite captains throughout sports

Named one of the best business books of the year by CNBC, The New York Times, Forbes, strategy+business, The Globe and Mail, and Sports Illustrated

The sixteen most dominant teams in sports history had one thing in common: Each employed the same type of captain--a singular leader with an unconventional set of skills and tendencies.

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More About The Captain Class by Sam Walker
A bold new theory of leadership drawn from elite captains throughout sports

Named one of the best business books of the year by CNBC, The New York Times, Forbes, strategy+business, The Globe and Mail, and Sports Illustrated

The sixteen most dominant teams in sports history had one thing in common: Each employed the same type of captain--a singular leader with an unconventional set of skills and tendencies. Drawing on original interviews with athletes, general managers, coaches, and team-building experts, Sam Walker identifies the seven core qualities of the Captain Class--from extreme doggedness and emotional control to tactical aggression and the courage to stand apart. Told through riveting accounts of pressure-soaked moments in sports history, The Captain Class will challenge your assumptions of what inspired leadership looks like.

Praise for The Captain Class

"Wildly entertaining and thought-provoking . . . makes you reexamine long-held beliefs about leadership and the glue that binds winning teams together."--Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, Chicago Cubs

"If you care about leadership, talent development, or the art of competition, you need to read this immediately."--Daniel Coyle, author of The Culture Code

"The insights in this book are tremendous."--Bob Myers, general manager, Golden State Warriors

"An awesome book . . . I find myself relating a lot to its portrayal of the out-of the-norm leader."--Carli Lloyd, co-captain, U.S. Soccer Women's National Team

"A great read . . . Sam Walker used data and a systems approach to reach some original and unconventional conclusions about the kinds of leaders that foster enduring success. Most business and leadership books lapse into clich s. This one is fresh."--Jeff Immelt, chairman and former CEO, General Electric

"I can't tell you how much I loved The Captain Class. It identifies something many people who've been around successful teams have felt but were never able to articulate. It has deeply affected my thoughts around how we build our culture."--Derek Falvey, chief baseball officer, Minnesota Twins

  • ISBN-13: 9780812997194
  • ISBN-10: 0812997190
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Publish Date: May 2017
  • Page Count: 352
  • Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.25 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Sports & Recreation > Sports Psychology
Books > Business & Economics > Leadership
Books > Psychology > Social Psychology

BookPage Reviews

Clueless about Dad's gift? There's hope

With Father’s Day approaching, it’s time to wrap that present you’ve had hidden away for months. Wait, you have nothing hidden away and no idea what to buy Dad? Here are five books that will be even more welcome than a box of golf balls.

What Father’s Day list is complete without an unabashedly sentimental—yet realistic—look at the father-son relationship from first-person experience? Two and Two: McSorley’s, My Dad, and Me, by Rafe Bartholomew, fills that bill admirably. It also serves as a history of McSorley’s Old Ale House, a 163-year-old institution in New York’s East Village, as well as a compendium of anecdotes about things that can only happen at a beloved neighborhood bar (nowadays, alas, also a frequent tourist stop). Bartholomew, a sports writer and editor, writes lovingly of his father, known as “Bart” over the course of his 45-year bartending career, and also gives us some of his own coming-of-age glimpses along the way. If you can survive St. Patrick’s Day at McSorley’s, we learn, you can survive just about anything. But just when you think this is strictly a fathers-and-sons book, some of the best writing appears in the chapter dealing with the author’s mother, Patricia, who conquered alcoholism only to find life had an even bigger punch in store for her.

Fatherhood takes a back seat to brotherhood in The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family’s Quest to Bring Him Home, but the family ties are just as strong. They extend to the author, Sally Mott Freeman, a former speechwriter and public relations executive who is the daughter of one of the brothers. Her curiosity piqued by a family argument, she sought to unravel the story of her uncle Barton’s life as an MIA naval ensign during World War II (it’s no spoiler to note that he was actually a prisoner of war) and the efforts of his two brothers—also Navy men—to find and rescue him even as they fight their own battles. Meanwhile, the home fires are tended by a tenacious mother who never hesitates to pick up her pen and give the powers that be—all the way up to President Roosevelt—a piece of her mind. Tenacious in her own way, Freeman uses archives, interviews and diaries to uncover Barton’s tragic story along with those of his brothers and fellow prisoners, who endured unspeakable horrors in Japanese prison camps as war raged in the Pacific.

Want to see Dad exercise his long-dormant debating skills? Just give him a copy of The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams and watch him search for his favorite team in author Sam Walker’s Tier One ranking. He’ll hunt in vain for baseball’s Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds of the 1970s, or the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. (Hint: He’ll find Jordan in the chapter titled “False Idols.”) Rest assured, the New York Yankees (1949-53 edition) did make the cut, along with the Collingwood Magpies of Aussie Rules football and 14 other teams. If your team isn’t on the list, Walker is ready with the reasoning for the snub (for example, the lack of a “true championship,” i.e., Super Bowl, for part of their existence kept the 1960s Green Bay Packers from Valhalla). And perhaps not surprisingly, given Walker’s background at The Wall Street Journal (he founded its daily sports report), the book doubles as a guide to success in business, with pointed commentary on what makes leaders effective or ineffective (go easy on the vitriol directed at teammates, Mr. Jordan).

Dad can get in touch with his inner Walter Mitty with Shark Drunk: The Art of Catching a Large Shark from a Tiny Rubber Dinghy in a Big Ocean. The seemingly sane author, Morten Strøksnes, and an eccentric artist friend decide they want to haul up a Greenland shark—bigger than the great white, and thus the world’s largest flesh-eating shark—from the oceanic depths off the coast of Norway. Think ­Moby-Dick, but shorter and funnier with enough random factoids to fill a whale’s belly. Waiting for a shark to bite (the line, that is) gives ­Strøksnes plenty of time to muse on such topics as Norwegian history and mythology, seafaring tales, space exploration and even the shark itself. (The “drunkenness” referred to in the title comes from eating the flesh of the Greenland shark, which contains compounds used in the nerve gas trimethylamine oxide.) Ranging over a full year, the quest for more than a nibble yields satisfying insights into friendship, aspirations and the thrill of the chase. When the end comes, it’s almost anticlimactic.

Warning: Reading The Push: A Climber’s Journey of Endurance, Risk, and Going Beyond Limits can be a queasy experience, for at least a couple of reasons. For starters, the author of this absorbing memoir, expert rock climber Tommy Caldwell, spends a fair amount of time thousands (yes, thousands) of feet above ground level, protected only by a web of ropes, attempting to conquer the Next Big Climb. His targets include El Capitan’s 3,000-foot Dawn Wall in Yosemite National Park, which he conquers in 2015 with climbing partner Kevin Jorgeson. But Caldwell’s relationship with his gung-ho, adventure-guide father is also cringe-inducing and provides insight into his motivations and doubts, along with at least one failed relationship. If Caldwell’s name rings a bell, it’s possibly because one of his international expeditions ended with him and his companions—including the woman who would become his first wife—being held hostage by militants in Kyrgyzstan in 2000, escaping only when Caldwell pushed a captor off a nearly sheer dropoff. Somehow the captor survived, but it’s clear the incident still haunts Caldwell. Between the thrills, this book will haunt the reader, too.

This article was originally published in the June 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

BAM Customer Reviews