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American Icon: The Fall of Roger Clemens and the Rise of Steroids in America's Pastime Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 12, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In a definitive examination of illegal drug use in America's pastime, "sports investigative team" Thompson, Vinton, O'Keeffe and Red (of New York's Daily News) focus on one-time Hall of Fame-bound pitcher Roger Clemens and his former trainer, Brian McNamee, who accused Clemens of relying on steroids and human growth hormone to prolong his lucrative career. (Clemens, upon this book's publication, continued to deny the allegations.) Both men were featured prominently in 2007's 409-page Mitchell Report investigation; in this decade-spanning account, they're surrounded by a motley cast that includes sports execs, drug dealers, lawyers, mistresses, elected officials, and former and current players such as Jose Canseco, Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez. Richly detailed, the muscular narrative often reads like a thriller, though numerous subplots don't always connect. Relying on hundreds of on- and off-the-record interviews and access to public and private documents, this is an intricate and compelling case in which there are no heroes, but a notable villain-the League itself-whose lax approach to the issue ensures baseball's steroids era isn't over.
“A definitive examination of illegal drug use in America's pastime . . . Richly detailed, the muscular narrative often reads like a thriller . . . this is an intricate and compelling case in which there are no heroes, but a notable villain—the League itself—whose lax approach to the issue ensures baseball’s steroids era isn't over.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Of all the books I’ve ever read about baseball, I’d say this is as thoroughly researched as can be and right now it stands as the definitive book about the steroid era.” —Mike Pesca, NPR: Morning Edition
“Gripping . . . nimble . . . the authors have turned the sprawling story of steroid-use into a sleek narrative that reads like an investigative thriller, peopled by a Dickensian cast of characters, from big-name ball players and their high-powered lawyers to small time bodybuilders and gym owners, from federal investigators and members of Congress to denizens of “the violent criminal underworld of muscle-building drug distribution. As in Bob Woodward’s inside-Washington books, the narrative of ‘American Icon’ draws upon lots of official documents—in this case sworn depositions, medical records, courtroom transcripts, records from criminal investigations, as well as the groundbreaking articles these reporters did for The Daily News, and hundreds of interviews, both on the record and off.” —Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
“Graphic . . . damning.” —David M. Shribman, Bloomberg
“The account often reads like a detective novel, with the authors revealing the underbelly of professional baseball—the furtive injections, “gravy trainers” (sports hangers on), secret mistresses, drug transactions, and smarmy agents that pervade the sport. Things turn ugly when federal authorities put the squeeze on McNamee, and Clemens self destructs by lashing out at McNamee and demanding a congressional hearing. The journalism demonstrated here hits the bar set by another baseball/steroids book, Game of Shadows (2006), and it builds a daunting case against Clemens.” —Jerry Eberle, Booklist (starred)
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I found it very interesting in the beginning, and then found it to become very lengthy toward the latter half of the book, with this part mostly dealing with Clemens, McNamee and Petittes' appearances before congress in 2008. The writers judge Clemens to be guilty right from the beginning, and say so in the first few pages of the book. I don't know how anyone could believe anything Clemens says about the matter after carefully reviewing what is in this book.
Overall very interesting for baseball fanatics, but probably not for for the casual fan or non-sports reader.
It is quite one sided (McNamee as the victim) and very dated as the events only go up to the beginning of the 2009 season, but with the hearings all in place and the perjury counts on the record I doubt anyone will publish anything as extensive as this until the culmination on Clemens' trial. And with Clemens' granted request for an extension to his perjury trial in April 2011 to July 2011 the book gained some shelf life as the most extensive report on his career. A must read before then, but a lost book after July of 2011.
What sets this book above the truck load full of previous books in the baseball-steroid genre is the meticulous accounting of not only every step taken by drug dealers... ballplayers... trainers... and management... but every half-step between each step... of not only the previously mentioned participants... but a "fly-on-the-wall" readers-eye-view of the maneuvering of all the lawyers hired by all the participants. Extremely interesting is the additional detail the author's unfurl that follows each public mea-culpa's such as when Andy Pettitte admitted using HGH for only two days- "TWO DAYS OF PERHAPS BAD JUDGMENT AS HE PUT IT-IN 2002. WELL HE'D USED THE SAME BAD JUDGMENT TWO YEARS LATER. HIS 2002 DECISION WAS COMING BACK TO HAUNT HIM. HE DIDN'T KNOW WHAT THE RESULT OF HIS 2004 TRANSGRESSION WOULD BE."
The showdown of all showdowns is what will happen as the federal government goes after Roger Clemens... because the most powerful parts of the Mitchell report were based on sworn testimony by two trainers and providers of performance enhancing drugs... Brian McNamee and Kirk Radomski... Kirk sold the drugs to Brian... and Brian injected them in Clemens and Pettitte. Pettitte admitted that Brian injected him with HGH... but Clemens denies it... despite the fact that any logical person would say... Why would Brian be telling the truth about Andy and lying about Roger? This is in addition to the syringes, gauze and blood that Brian accumulated from use on Clemens and turned over to the government. So Clemens is trying to use his celebrity and wealth to discredit Brian... while the government led by federal agent Jeff Novitzky... the same agent who spearheaded the infamous Balco case... has pressured Brian with threats of jail if he lies on *ANYTHING*... thus leading to the conundrum that the authors state so eloquently: "CLEMENS AND NOVITZKY WERE HEADED FOR A COLLISION, AND BOTH OF THEM HAD VASTLY MORE RESOURCES TO DRAW UPON THAN THE MAN (BRIAN) CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE."
If the potential reader hasn't read all the previous sports/steroid books leading up to this one... I can give you a thumb nail synopsis of the main ones... since I have. In no particular order nor ranking: A&B) The two Canseco books... though accurate in the names named... artistically are clownish due to the egotistical love fest that Canseco has with himself. C) Kirk Radomski's is similar to Canseco in egotism as he tries to "break his arm patting himself on the back" as he (according to himself) is tied with Canseco for being the most brilliant man in the history of steroids. D) Bill Romonowski's is a crowing bully till he gets on Sixty Minutes and then he cries like a baby. E) Game Of Shadows is the seminal book on steroids based on facts without the author's sullying the process with self-love. F) Jeff Pearlman's is well written and his satirical comments interspersed with the facts, comes across like you're talking with one of your buddies over a beer. G) A-Rod is based on fact... but sullied by the author's personal salvos of "Good Alex"-"Bad Alex", etc. H) American Icon is so well researched that at times it may be almost too much detail... but it lays out every situation from every angle. It also has the advantage of being the most recent. Between these eight books... I don't think the reading public needs another steroid dissertation until there's a trial whether it's Clemens... Bonds... or who knows??