From the founding editor of The Wall Street Journal’s sports section comes a bold new theory of leadership drawn from the elite captains who inspired their teams to achieve extraordinary success.

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.

Now featuring analysis of the five-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and their captain, Tom Brady.

The seventeen 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.


  • 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 clichés. 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
  • The Captain Class really resonated with me. It will absolutely be part of my thought process as we continue to build our roster.

    —Ryan Pace, general manager, Chicago Bears

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Every spring, millions of Americans prepare to take part in one of the oddest, most obsessive, and most engrossing rituals in the sports pantheon: Rotisserie baseball, a fantasy game where armchair fans match wits by building their own teams. In 2004, Sam Walker, a sports columnist for the Wall Street Journal, decided to explore this phenomenon by talking his way into Tout Wars, a league reserved for the nation’s top experts. The result is one of the most sheerly entertaining sports books in years and a matchless look into the heart and soul of our national pastime.


  • By far the funniest book written about our national pastime in the last decade.

    —Rocky Mountain News
  • I have read many books on baseball, but none of them approach the delight, the zaniness, the lunacy and the sheer reading pleasure of Sam Walker’s Fantasyland. In trying to build the perfect fantasy baseball team, Walker takes us on an absolute joyride. His book is a riot and a romp, but he also cleverly crystallizes the raging baseball culture war between the stat freaks and the hard-line traditionalists.

    —Buzz Bissinger, author of Three Nights in August and Friday Night Lights

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