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Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports Paperback – Mar 1 2007

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Avery; 1 edition (March 1 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592402682
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592402687
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #108,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"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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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

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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A real good look at the steroid scandal. Enjoyed this read
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 144 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When Arrogance Exceeds Ability July 26 2007
By Richard Lyman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As Barry gets closer and closer to breaking the incomparable record that Hank Aaron set, Game of Shadows becomes even more relevant. The authors go into great clinical detail of Bond's drug regimen that was obtained thru leaked grand jury testimony. I find it extremely ironic that the lawyer who leaked the information is going to jail for two years while Barry (as well as Scooter Libby) remains free.

Page after page, all the dates, dosages and drugs are listed. No, this isn't a Tom Clancy novel. It reads more like a medical textbook. Those who proclaim Bonds "innocent until proven guilty" status should read those chapters and then look at the physical changes Bonds went thru in that time frame. His personal trainer is still in jail for dealing steroids and Victor Conte, Bonds "nutritional advisor," just got out of jail. Sorry, but flaxseed oil and pumping iron won't transform a human into the grotesque being Barry has become. And they won't make your hat size increase, either. Anybody who thinks Bonds gained all that muscle "naturally" probably also believe O.J. continues to search every golf course in the country for his wife's killer.

How can a man who never hit more than 46 home runs in a season (when he was 28) suddenly average over 51 home runs a year between the ages of 35 and 40? What, did Ponce de Leon spike the water cooler? What other player in history has shown that remarkable improvement in the tail end of his career?

Does Barry get a bad rap from the press? Is he being picked on? Bonds is a baseball player of remarkable ability, a rare combination of speed and power that were easily enough to get him into the Hall of Fame without drug abuse. His ego, and his arrogance, however, far exceeds his natural talents. As described in the book, jealousy over Mark McGwire's adulation drove him to take performance enhancing drugs. Bonds figured he would level the playing field by juicing like Mark. Then we'll see who's the best. Breaking the single season home run record was not enough for his grandiose personality. Now he has to break the record set by one of the most dignified and honest people in sports. As Rick Reilly puts it, when Barry breaks the record, it will be "like a man robbing a bank and then having a giant party to watch him count the money."

The book isn't just a beat down on Barry. Many other athletes are exposed, particularly in track and field where undetectable doping is so vital to cheating the system. Unlike baseball, track and field takes doping very seriously. Sure, Barry has never tested positive for steroids, but when was he tested? Baseball did not even start testing until 2002. For two years, the tests were anonymous and results were not released. Only in 2004 were penalties invoked for testing positive. What a joke. Let's not forget, there is no test for human growth hormone, which is likely what Bonds continues to use to maintain his bloated musculature.

It is July 26, 2007. I will make a few predictions. Bonds breaks the record in mid-August. The hapless Giants have no post season and Barry fades into anonymity for a few weeks. After the World Series in which the Mets beat the Red Sox (sorry Boston fans), Bonds gets indicted for perjury, obstruction of justice and tax evasion.

The tax evasion charges will stick, they always do. Anytime you have an outflow of cash to a mistress or drug dealer, the source of that cash can be traced. It will be baseball card and autograph show cash that was never reported as taxable income. Barry will get convicted and do a little time, just like the other talented egoist, Pete Rose.

And maybe like Pete, Barry will get into the Hall of Fame, posthumously.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars BALCO + BARRY = Baseball's Beguiled Bondage Feb. 9 2008
By Chris B - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
There is no way to make a positive case for anabolic steroids or HGH in any sport. The story of BALCO and the involvement of one of the biggest names in sports makes for an interesting read Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports albeit one of the darkest sides of professional sports.

Hidden behind a "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" back-drop, the book names people who became contenders by buying into the back street sales of steroids in order to build strength, enhance musculature, elongate careers and cheat their way into the record books with the excuse that they were better than other players but just needed that edge to be best, as though it was their divine right! Gone were the days of Willie Mays, Roger Maris, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle, those who made and broke records by sheer talent and will. The days of steroids were now foisted upon an unsuspecting public via Victor Conte, a self-made, self-serving and self-proclaimed nutritionist who became a "cocktail" mixer to the super stars of sports. Throw into that mix the world of Major League Baseball, who, along with its Commissioners, owners, managers, trainers and pumped up stars, turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to all that was happening around them. Together, they've turned a wonderful, healthy and beautiful sport that was America's Favorite Pastime into a debacle of muscle-bound "terminators" whose job it is to hit the long ball and keep people coming to fields and stadiums where they can witness the side-show of freaks which once was, the heart of American sports.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The BALCO Scandal April 26 2006
By Dan McKinnon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Before reading 'Game of Shadows' I had pretty much already formed an opinion on steroids in baseball. Watching Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire crush the home run record and then seeing Barry Bonds make a joke of said "untouchable" records only a scant 3 years later, I was not surprised 1 iota when it was revealed that abuse was rampant in the major leagues. Seeing the physical changes in players such as Barry Bonds and the aforementioned athletes only solidified that opinion, and to be honest, I really didn't care. Why did I not care? Simple, because baseball ITSELF didn't care. MLB had been promoting the cartoon-like statures and performances of these players for some time, and the long ball had become the #1 selling point of the entire sport. So when I read about the evidence that was dug up on Barry Bonds and all these other players, I said to myself that baseball was the exception, not the rule.


After reading this book, the saddest thing that stands out is how prevalent illegal drugs are in all sports. Basically, if there is a way to cheat, people are going to find, abuse it, and keep doing it. It's a continual game of cat and mouse, where the Tom can never catch Jerry. It doesn't matter if you are male or female, it's quite clear that the human desire to get ahead by any means possible will always be in existence, and who knows how many records have been tainted because people just cannot play by the rules.

Baseball, the NFL, Olympics, it doesn't matter what sport/league, because in any physical competition, there is always a pro in becoming bigger, stronger, faster. As long as that desire and need is around, there will always be cheats, and this "success" of Victor Conte and Patrick Arnold will only spur more business people and scientists to create the next designer steroid, just probably without as much flamboyance as Conte sought which helped lead him down a path of destruction.

If you want to learn more about the history of illegal drugs in this business and how good investigative work is done, you owe it to yourself to read 'Game of Shadows'. Unless you are a total mark or blind, it is QUITE clear that more than enough evidence exists that ignores Mr. Bonds' denials and paints a bright picture that not only has he used steroids, but he has for quite some time.

An entertaining read that is well structured, researched to a tee, and in my opinion just a sliver of things to come in the future as it relates to using performance enhancing drugs in all sports.

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recipe for award winning best-seller: Mix one part journalism and two parts gossip. April 24 2006
By Lefty Grove - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The BALCO scandal is a story worth telling, and the authors do a thorough job. And if you want to know a lot of detail about Barry Bonds' use of performance-enhancing drugs, this is the book for you. No problem there.

There is a problem, however, in the way the authors speculate about various athletes' personalities, motivations, and relationships with others. Because peoples' perceptions of such things are subjective and colored by personal experiences, it's difficult to discuss them with any veracity. Yet this the authors do shamelessly, and they do it continually.

As one example, the authors glibly tell us that Dusty Baker's resentment of Bonds' special status on the Giants was known by "everyone in baseball." Well, if everyone knew about that, then why do the authors cite the unnamed "source familiar with Bonds?"

Similarly, the Giants' eventual decision not to retain either Baker or teammate Jeff Kent is attributed to Giants managing partner Peter MacGowan's "infatuation" with Bonds, and his simultaneous weariness over Baker and Kent. That's a colorful but careless depiction of what was presumably a business decision by the man responsible for cash flow into the Giants ownership group. Again, an unnamed source is cited.

Of course, some sources are named. Most prominent is Bonds' jilted ex-girlfriend, Kim Bell. The authors relied on Bell for much of their negative portrait of Bonds as a person. These investigative journalists treated as gospel the words of a scorned woman. Maybe it's just me, but I'd be a little more skeptical of such a source.

This kind of speculative reportage permeates the entire book, interspersed with the hard facts about BALCO and athletes' drug use. So this book, which purports to be the product of investigative journalism, is actually a strange mixture of revelatory information on the one hand, and old-fashioned gossip on the other.

No wonder it's selling so well.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story. Bonds is Guilty of perjury .What s the drug crime? April 15 2006
By Boils - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Number 1) Barry Bonds committed perjury and income tax fraud 2+ years ago and the hear, see and speak no evil feds were going to do nothing about it until this well written book came out. That's just a fact. And that it was an IRS investigator who uncovered the crime makes the non-prosecution of Bonds an even bigger scandal. Whait a genie just told me the answer/reason for the indolence. The IRS and the Federal DA's prosecute no one they might have, or their children have gone to an IVY League school with hence the none-prosecution of white collar crime in America.

2) The book is very well written. Really the story is just a long magazine article but these guy make it long and pretty interesting. Keep writing guys you've got the talent.

3) What is the crime?. Steroids, HGH et all aren't good for you....Neither are Twinkies. If some dodo wants to kill himself to run fast and make a million bucks what's to care? If kids drive themselves over a cliff drunk? Again... What's to care? The drugs are unstopable so why pretend. So the government can makes us think they are upholding the law when in fact hey aren't? That people actually go to jail for this, put there by pension chasing bureacrats with and without badges, is a shame. These bureaucRATS (sic) shold chase tax evaders or some real criminals. But hey then they'd be going after he people who went to the Ivies with them. Cain't do dat. Shame Shame Shame

The only reaon Bonds is being 'investigated' is because of this book.