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

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Editorial Reviews


"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.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham (March 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592402682
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592402687
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (212 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #333,714 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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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Tamela Mccann TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 19, 2007
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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34 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Little Miss Cutey on April 21, 2006
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.
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85 of 109 people found the following review helpful By Jason A. Miller VINE VOICE on April 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Let's get my credentials out of the way. I am not someone that baseball is going to "lose" if they don't solve the steroids problem. However, I take the allegations in "Game of Shadows" very, very seriously, and I'm not going to be celebrating any of Barry Bonds' home runs between now and 756.

I've been a baseball fan since the 1981 strike, when I discovered the game through its absence on TV and radio. I went to my first game at Shea Stadium in 1982 on the day that I turned 8 and a half. Mookie Wilson homered that day. He was not, as far as we know, on steroids. Mike Schmidt did not play for the Phillies that day, due to an injury. Schmidt recently came out with a book denouncing steroids, a book that's selling slightly fewer copies than "Game of Shadows".

Even though I raised myself a Mets fan, a team that a few years later rose and fell at the altar of white powder, I did grow up in a Yankees' household, and always took Roger Maris' record very seriously. I was moved and impressed when Mark McGwire brought the Maris family along on September 8, 1998, and made them such a central part of Number 62. When Barry Bonds later said he wanted to "take" Babe Ruth's record for career homers by a left-handed hitter and then warned us to "don't talk about him no more", I was not quite as moved, and certainly not impressed.

Bonds and Marion Jones are not the only big revelations in "Game of Shadows". Who would have imagined that such Bay Area fringe players as Armando Rios and Randy Velarde were BALCO customers? Then again, we learned from Jose Canseco's book last year that steroids alone do not make one a great athlete.

"Game of Shadows" is a remarkable work of investigative journalism.
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