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Vitality Supreme: (Original Version, Restored) Paperback – February 14, 2012
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About the Author
From Biography.com - "Macfadden, often dubbed the 'father of physical culture,' grew up in poverty in the eastern Ozark Mountains of Missouri. After his parents died young from ill health when he was 11, he spent his life fighting early death and overcoming physical challenges. Macfadden thrived on hard work and outdoor living. Inspired by the Police Gazette, he took up boxing, wrestling, and gymnastics to harden his body and rejected alcohol, tobacco, and meat to preserve his health. Always energetic, the irrepressible Macfadden often worked several jobs and frequently wrestled professionally in circuses. In 1897 Macfadden traveled to England where he collaborated with bicycle entrepreneur Hopton Hadley to market the wall-mounted muscle developer that he had created. With Hadley's support, Macfadden founded an early muscle magazine, Physical Development (1898), and later an even more successful American version, Physical Culture (1899). Macfadden also toured widely to promote his message of vigorous physical exercise and to preach about the dangers of alcohol, drugs, gluttony, corsets, prudishness, tea, coffee, and white bread. Shocking to Victorian sentiments was his advocacy of a diet consisting of carrots, beans, nuts, and raw eggs, sleeping on the floor, and nudity and his zeal for 'physical love.' To promote such 'love,' he encouraged openness about sexual matters and invented a glass cylinder device attached to a vacuum pump to enlarge men's penises. To exemplify fitness, he walked five miles daily to his office in Manhattan in bare feet while carrying a 40-pound bag of sand. In 1903 Macfadden staged the first physique (bodybuilding) contest in America and in similar competitions in 1921 and 1922 fostered the emergence of physical culture's greatest icon, Charles Atlas."
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The author was the famous publisher Bernarr MacFadden. Although he ultimately published a bunch of magazines like Confidential and True Crime, his start was in "physical culture." That was the old term for bodybuilding and fitness. And, he practiced what he preached.
He was famous in the beginning of the 20th century for his health ideas, eccentricities, political views, and a host of virtues and foibles. This book summarizes his beliefs and "discoveries" which came from self-experimentation and experience. His influence was great. For instance, one of his disciples was Paul Bragg, a famous health guru. Bragg, in turn, inspired the late Jack Lalanne who influenced a great number of bodybuilders and fitness buffs through the 50s and 60s -- a trend which continues today. Perhaps you have one of LaLanne's juicers.
So, this book is not just of historical interest. It has tons of advice on everything from eating and posture to diet and sleeping, and even (gasp) sex. A reader should check out the information before totally applying it, yet can't help but be inspired by the author's own earnestness and vitality. If you are a serious, scientifically oriented fitness buff you should probably spend your time reading something else. But, if you are looking for new hints of things to try, or are interested in the foundations of the fitness movement, then this book is for you.
I recommend another book: Mister America by Mark Adams. The author tells how he tried some of Macfadden's ideas and presents them in modern terms. Mr. America: How Muscular Millionaire Bernarr Macfadden Transformed the Nation Through Sex, Salad, and the Ultimate Starvation Diet
Also helpful is a book by Macfadden's wife Dumbbells and carrot strips;: The story of Bernarr Macfadden, Macfadden went to England, promoted a contest to find England's one physically perfect woman, then promptly courted and married the winner.