Regular price: $28.00

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

The former global sports editor of The Wall Street Journal profiles the greatest teams in history and identifies the counterintuitive leadership qualities of the unconventional men and women who drove them to succeed.

The secret to winning is not what you think it is.

It's not the coach. It's not the star.

It's not money. It's not a strategy.

It's something else entirely.

Several years ago Sam Walker set out to answer one of the most hotly debated questions in sports: What are the greatest teams of all time? He devised a formula, then applied it to thousands of teams from leagues all over the world, from the NBA to the English Premier League to Olympic field hockey. When he was done, he had a list of the 16 most dominant teams in history. At that point he became obsessed with another more complicated question: What did these freak teams have in common?

As Walker dug into their stories, a pattern emerged. Each team had the same type of captain - a singular leader with an unconventional skill set who drove it to achieve sustained, historic greatness.

Fueled by a lifetime of sports spectating, 20 years of reporting, and a decade of painstaking research, The Captain Class tells the surprising story of what makes teams exceptional. Drawing on original interviews with athletes from two dozen countries as well as general managers, coaches, executives, and others skilled at building teams, Walker identifies the seven core qualities of this Captain Class - from extreme doggedness and emotional control to a knack for nonverbal communication to aggression and the courage to stand apart.

Told through riveting accounts of some of the most pressure-soaked moments in sports history - from Bill Russell's legendary "Coleman Play" in the 1957 NBA Finals to Barcelona's "Figo Game" against Real Madrid in 2000 - The Captain Class doesn't just bring these events to life; it presents a fresh, counterintuitive take on leadership that can be applied to a wide spectrum of competitive disciplines.

The men and women who make up the Captain Class were never the most skilled athletes, nor were they gifted orators or paragons of sportsmanship. They were often role players who were allergic to the spotlight. In short, the seven attributes they shared challenge your assumptions of what inspired leadership looks like.

©2017 Sam Walker (P)2017 Random House Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    218
  • 4 Stars
    80
  • 3 Stars
    32
  • 2 Stars
    9
  • 1 Stars
    4

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    192
  • 4 Stars
    72
  • 3 Stars
    18
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    185
  • 4 Stars
    66
  • 3 Stars
    30
  • 2 Stars
    9
  • 1 Stars
    1
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating In-depth Angle on Leadership

Fascinating, research-driven content yet with an enjoyable to read narrative on the impact of true leadership, captain or not.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great look into what makes a great captain.

Loved the narration and the methodology that went into writing the book. Not a subject most care about but I think coaches should give this a listen.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Spot on

Loved this book. Once it got into part two, the on the Field, and off the field, stories supported by thorough academic analysis are phenomenal. A great break from traditional leadership text books.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Depth and Analysis of Team Sports

What made the experience of listening to The Captain Class the most enjoyable?

It was empirical, objective, and had a great reader.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Captain Class?

The amount of research that went into selecting what a "team sport" is. This is where the book started. It made the research credible and selective. It was purposeful research.

What does Keith Szarabajka bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His tone is mature with little sensationalism. It really brings it home.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The anecdotes of each team leader and their teams were especially great. Particularly the story of the Cuban volleyball team.

Any additional comments?

I would strongly recommend this book to anybody who has played sports and seeks a higher understanding of how teams stay atop of their game.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The right captain matters

Great breakdown of how the right people can help anyone win. I love sports but I learned so much from this book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

One of the best sports books ever

This book will captivate you in several ways. Myself a former professional athlete, now training pro athletes, has believed that the best leaders names are Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Karch Kiraly, Messi, etc. This book uses amazing stories eloquently shared to reveal that what pop culture thinks of great leadership is very wrong. Walker brings lots of evidence to back up these views. This is book I will be giving to all my athletes and reading several times myself. You won’t regret your purchase or the time spent with this book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Narration is superb

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this book because it's interesting to hear how different styles of leadership in sports have been effective in different situations. It's applicable outside of sports.

What did you like best about this story?

I like that the sport examples span countries and decades, and is not just the famous American teams you might expect.

What about Keith Szarabajka’s performance did you like?

This is a phenomenal narrator. He did voices and accents while still feeling authentic, not cheesy. He made this audiobook really come to life.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, I think it's one you need to listen to in pieces.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Captains or No

Interesting viewpoints on captains and leadership...not sure of the statistical basis, but excellent observations on the affect of captains and team cohesion.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Narrator made the book awful to get through.

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Slogging through this book was somewhat painful because of the narrator. His voice was like when Batman talks in his scary voice, if he had smoked a lifetime of cigarettes.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Keith Szarabajka?

Literally anyone. His voice was painful, and it made the whole experience difficult.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Fun Anecdotes but No Cohesion

I’m typically a huge fan of this type of book, but this one fell flat for me. Despite his repeated statements that he set out to discover what made teams great, this felt like the author had a theory and did research to support that theory, making exceptions where it was convenient and drawing hard lines in gray areas. He said there were seven traits that all the great captains leading great teams had, but it seemed like each captain only had a few of those traits. The sports anecdotes were fun for me as a sports fan, but that was about it.

I really wanted to like this book, but was left Unsatisfied.