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Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports Paperback – Mar 6 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; 1 edition (March 6 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592402682
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592402687
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2 x 20.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #394,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A sober, skillful and utterly damning account of not just the Bonds fiasco but the pervasive influence of steroids in sports."—Los Angeles Times



"Devastating. . . . groundbreaking. . . . Necessary reading for anyone concerned with the steroids era in baseball and track and field and its fallout on sports history."—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times



"A compelling portrait of conspiracy. . . . Fascinating."—The Boston Globe



"Scorching. . . . A testament to baseball’s failure."—Newsweek



"Superb. . . . Important and disturbing."—San Francisco Chronicle



"The evidence is detailed, damning, and overwhelming. . . . It’s a growing bonfire of controversy. This book is one of the matches."—The Philadelphia Inquirer



"[Fainaru-Wada and Williams] have got the goods and they reveal them methodically. Everything is well-sourced and meticulously explicated."—Chicago Tribune



“A shocking exposé of the seedy side of pro sports that underscores just how easy it is to cheat.”—Entertainment Weekly

About the Author

Mark Fainaru-Wada is an investigative reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. After fifteen months of covering steroid use in sports, in December 2004 they reported in the Chronicle on the secret grand jury testimony of pro baseball players Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds, making headlines around the world. Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams won the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award, the George Polk Award, and the White House Correspondents’ Association’s Edgar A. Poe Award for their reporting.
Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada are reporters on the investigative team at the San Francisco Chronicle. Together, they broke a series of exclusive stories on the BALCO scandal and earned a string of national honors, including the George Polk Award, The Edgar A. Poe Award of the White House Correspondents’ Association, The Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award and The Associated Press Sports Editors award for investigative reporting.

Williams has written on subjects including the California cocaine trade, Oakland’s Black Panther Party and the career of San Francisco mayor and political power-broker Willie Brown. His journalism also has been honored with: the Gerald Loeb Award for financial writing; the California Associated Press’ Fairbanks Award for public service; and, on three occasions, the Center for California Studies' California Journalism Award for political reporting. He was the Society of Professional Journalists’ Northern California Journalist of the Year in 1999.

Born in Ohio, he graduated from Brown University and the University of California-Berkeley and attended University College, London, U.K. Before joining the Chronicle, he worked as a reporter at the Hayward Daily Review, the Oakland Tribune, and the San Francisco Examiner. He was a University of Michigan Journalism Fellow in 1986-87.


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First Sentence
On a steamy May morning in 2001, at North Carolina State University, Victor Conte could see it all coming together. Read the first page
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By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Aug. 13 2006
Format: Hardcover
I started reading this book on recommendation of my son, a professional sports aficionado like myself. He hinted it might have something profound to say about the dark underside of the modern sports scene. Okay! Let me think. Might it have to do with new revelations and concerns about pervasive illicit drug use in professional baseball and 'amateur' track-and-field? As I got into the book, I discovered that the story took a less sensational and constructive tack. It had just as much to say about people's obsession with immortality as it did about the sordid world of steroid huckersterism as seen in the nefarious workings of Conte and BALCO. If the reader keeps in mind that this book is both a timely reportage on an alarming trend in major sporting circles and a commentary on the deline of an American icon, the time reading will be well spent. Now for that profundity alluded to earlier. The use of performance enhancing steroids in baseball in 'improving' athletic achievement on the field is not the news. Rather, it is that the various leagues and franchises, are powerless to stop it because they have been complicit from the start as their way of filling seats and increasing revenue. The fact that Major League Baseball still allows the Giambis and Bonds of this world to play without a legal challenge is both the greater tragedy and farce of the book. A solid and engrossing read.
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Format: Paperback
Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like everything in this book was basically covered by the newspapers as it happened. Everyone knows that Bonds got huge right before he broke the single season record. Everyone knows Giambi took steroids... it was in every paper in the world.

I would call this book a combination of: a) summary of commonly known things about Bonds and steroids b) an examination of steroids in track and field - specifically sprinting - 100m - 200m. The overlap being that everyone allegedly bought their steroids from BALCO.

I suppose when it came out, it provided some insights but reading it in January 2008 sort of gives it a dated/no longer relevent feel.

I don't think this book will be perpetuated anywhere near as long as Canseco's "Juiced" - which provides a more insider and less judgemental explanation of steroids in baseball.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 201 reviews
91 of 112 people found the following review helpful
A Sad Cautionary Tale Broader Than the More Publicized Bonds Disclosures March 25 2006
By Ed Uyeshima - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It's hard not to feel a profound sense of disappointment after reading this comprehensive, well-written investigative report on the abuse of steroids by athletes blinded by their need to be victorious in their various fields. While Barry Bonds is the primary subject here, San Francisco Chronicle reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada are not as interested in sabotaging the star player's legacy-in-the-making as they are in exposing the breadth of impact that Victor Conte, founder of BALCO (an acronym for the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative), had in plying a number of star athletes with performance-enhancing drugs.

The reporters have done a remarkable job documenting the history of steroids, which were used as far back as the 1976 Summer Olympics where the East German women all too handily dominated the swimming events. One revelation for me from the book is how steroids do not directly enhance athletic performance but allow a greater endurance to train harder with a decreasing chance of injury and no need for recovery time. This nuance is critical in understanding how athletes can justify using such risky substances and escape accountability for their actions. This is the moral twist of the book and the one that resonates most clearly as a cautionary tale for future athletes in assessing their options.

Just as intriguing is the detailed chronicle of the rise and fall of the enterprising Conte, who went from being a bass guitarist for Tower of Power to the owner of a holistic health clinic to a highly paid consultant for renowned Olympic and professional athletes. Conte's real fortunes began with his discovery of a means to provide performance-enhancing drugs which would elude detection. At first, he saw the availability of obviously illegal steroids to targeted athletes as an opportunity to get them to endorse his legal nutritional supplements. Demand, however, went beyond his expectations, and he refocused his energy to identify creative ways to get the drugs into athletes, whether by injections, ointments or drips under the tongue.

At the center of the BALCO distribution scandal has been Bonds, who is certainly held up as the highest profile athlete under Conte's spell. The co-authors paint an alternately sympathetic and unflattering portrait of a prodigiously gifted athlete cast under the shadow of his father Bobby. The portrayal doesn't come across so much as exploitative as it does a typical case study into the competitive mindset of a professional athlete. Triggered by Mark McGwire's record-breaking 70 home runs during the 1998 season, Bonds was apparently determined to surpass McGwire by turning to steroids to bulk up his physique in the same way. His constant connection was personal trainer Greg Anderson, and through the next five seasons, Bonds' usage escalated and became more clandestine.

The result has been a stellar performance on the field with a hulking physique to match his superman-like transformation. Off the field, he evolved into a raging egomaniac not above cheating on his taxes or his wife. These are hostile allegations but ones that Williams and Fainaru-Wada support with reams of testimony by intimates and colleagues. In 2001, Bonds beat McGwire's single-season home run record, and he is on his way to beating Hank Aaron's career home run record this coming season. At the same time, Conte and Anderson, thanks to expert plea bargaining, saw minimal prison time for their actions. Whether Bonds is being held up as a scapegoat seems rather moot, as I cannot help but feel this will be an empty victory given the ample evidence the co-authors provide here. With Bonds' evasive responses in the press and the inevitable slander lawsuits, one gets little sense that there will by any abatement on the problem at hand.
34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Gorgeous @}->--- April 21 2006
By Little Miss Cutey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As a fan of NBC Today, I've seen many segments that Mike Leonard has done. He is hilarious and unique and one story he did in particular, was a cross country journey with his parents and one of his daughters in an RV. I saw it and I loved it. His parents are adorable and funny too and they represent the kind of family you wished you belonged to (though I'm happy with my family). Apparently this story was one of their most memorable stories that's been done.

When you buy the book, it has the dvd along with it with the highlights of their vacation. They went through 18 States and were together throughout the whole time. It was an 8 thousand mile journey that ended with Mikes daughter giving birth (to Mikes parents first great-grandchild).

He wanted to write this book because it's relatable to so many families. And it is. It's funny and touching and heartwarming and so many other things in between.

I really recommend this book because as Mike thinks, it is relatable to so many people and it's interesting and entertaining and you'll really have a good laugh and enjoy it thoroughly. Great book.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Not fun to read, but it's not meant to be. June 16 2006
By M J Heilbron Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Game of Shadows" is about...well, heck...you KNOW what it's about.

As a baseball fan, I found myself a little sad about the whole thing. So much about the last few years seems kinda bogus. Maris didn't deserve an asterisk. Bonds does, I think.

As a physician, I found myself a little scared. These guys are doing things to their bodies that's gonna kill 'em early, and kill 'em in foul ways. It's sickening to think how their metabolisms have been manipulated to create inhuman athletes; these people are not natural...they were not created by nature. They are artificial. They're Frankenstein's monsters.

As a moral person, I found myself angry. This is cheating, plain and simple, and it's being done in front of the most loyal yet impressionable fans...the kids.

The only problem with the book is the shrill and repetitive Bonds-bashing that gets a little old by the end. It's almost like the authors are really angry with Bonds; you get the sense that their personal feelings and sensibilities were hurt. Listen...I'm with you guys. No way does a basbeball player have not only the best years of his career, but the best years of ANYBODY'S career, after the age of 35, without SOME additional support. But sometimes the tone of the book is like that of a spurned lover out for revenge. A little too vituperative.

But hey...this is an important book. There is no doubt that Bonds' legacy is in question. The question you should have, and the one I surely have, is why hasn't baseball shut this down. Please...they are still punishing Pete Rose, yet this has all happened in front of their noses and they seem to look away. The argument could be made that the public wants the long ball, and this is the way to get it.

I say the public wants to see the game played hard and fair. Cleaning up this business would prove that the baseball administrators really are who they say they are: fans just like us.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Bonds Fans: Take Note! Nov. 11 2006
By A reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I don't know how anyone can read this book and retain a shred of respect for the athletes who pumped themselves up with steroids and an array of other illegal substances, in order to best their competition. The authors call them what they are: not champions, but drug cheats. Bloated hulks like Barry Bonds- who continues to lie about his steroid use- should have been thrown out of baseball years ago. Where is Judge Landis when we need him?

The book also details the drug cheating in other sports, and the athletes' justification that, if they didn't use steroids, they would have no chance to excel in any professional sport- that's how rampant steroid use is. The authors also detail how government officials, in thrall to the business of professional baseball and reluctant to do anything that might damage the sport, continued to protect even those athletes who had admitted in closed testimony to steroid use, by refusing to make their names public.

But despite the momentary furor this book caused when it first came out, nothing has really changed. MLB's drug testing procedures are a joke. Bonds has been allowed to go right on hitting his drug-cheat home runs, and will no doubt eventually break the all-time home run record set by Hank Aaron- a disgrace if there ever was one!

The picture the authors paint of Bonds is appalling- what an arrogant, obnoxious, over-privileged SOB! Dislike of Bonds has nothing to do with his race, although he likes to think that it does. People dislike him because he's not only a drug cheat, but a liar, an abuser of women, a serial adulterer, an insulter of fans, teammates, and reporters, and a generally worthless human being. But I guess that's of no importance to Bonds' blindly loyal fans.

This is a birlliant piece of investigative reporting!
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Putting Family First! July 19 2007
By Tamela Mccann - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I picked up The Ride of Our Lives by Mike Leonard on the recommendation of my mother-in-law, and I've got to remember to thank her! What a wonderful celebration of family, complete with love, tears, reminiscing, RVs, and lots and lots of laughter.

Mike Leonard, correspondent for the Today Show, decided a couple of years ago that he needed to take a month off and drive his elderly parents cross country to visit/revisit sites. Enlisting three of his four children to accompany them in two RVs, you immediately get a sense of the type of family they are: right off the bat, the daughter-in-law drives an RV over a concrete barrier, the trip is delayed, and the grandmother flips someone off. Over the course of the month, Mike tells the story of the trip and weaves in stories of his own upbringing and his parents' stories as well. These two octogenarians are both poignant and funny, and while in some respects it may seem as though nothing much is going on during this trip, the reality is that this is a family that knows how to celebrate itself. I found myself giggling over the antics of all the people involved, and tearing up when the realization is made that you really can't go home again.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It's a quick read, but one that will inch into your soul and stay there, making you take stock of your own family and its values. I can only hope that my own children will grow up feeling as blessed as Mike and his brothers did. You cannot ask for more out of life than that. Recommended!


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