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Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports Hardcover – March 23, 2006

210 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

MARK FAINARU-WADA and LANCE WILLIAMS are investigative reporters 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 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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; First Edition edition (March 23, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592401996
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592401994
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (210 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #689,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 25, 2006
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.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By M J Heilbron Jr. VINE VOICE on June 16, 2006
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.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A reader on November 11, 2006
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!
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