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Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the…

Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked…

by Mark Fainaru-Wada, Lance Williams

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Outstanding journalism, ruined all my baseball myths and sunk my modern day heros, but excellent book. ( )
  jimifenway | Feb 2, 2016 |
The BALCO steroid raid was a local headline news "event" for a number of months. I have to admit that I tuned most of it out. Around the same time as the trial I read and enjoyed The Secret Language of Baseball which among its analysis of hand signals had some chapters on previous baseball scandals. So when Game of Shadows was offered up at the local BookCrossing meeting last year, I had to give it a read.

Baseball while an entertaining sport to play and to watch is not all "Mom and apple pie" pure as some would like to believe. Heck, I'd argue that neither is "Mom and apple pie" but I digress. It's a highly competitive team sport that produces a lot more misses than hits. Those team members who can consistently hit the ball well end up being the stars of the sport. With stardom comes the big bucks. Baseball has a history of turning a blind eye to a lot of the underhanded things players and teams do get ahead in the game.

The BALCO thing is just the latest and most recent public example. Game of Shadows covers the people involved in the trial (owners of BALCO, the managers, the players, the investigators, and so forth). It is set up in three equal parts. The first introduces all the "players", the second piece is the events that lead up to the trial and the final third is the trial itself. The trial piece is by far the most interesting piece of the book and I wish more time had been given to it and perhaps to the investigation. ( )
  pussreboots | Jan 18, 2015 |
Various anecdotes and bits of back-story on the infamous "steroids scandal" that rocked professional baseball in the early 21st century. The narration was very good: the reader seemed genuinely enthused about the text, and that helped to hold my interest. The book was an interesting snapshot of a time just before Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron's home run record. Sadly, the drug abuse and cheating continue today. ( )
  SharronA | Feb 5, 2013 |
This book reveals secrets not only about baseball but the olympics. Its strange to think that people that i have looked up to are now being testified against and are being banned from their sports that they were so good at and they are being stripped of their medals and championships and all their achievments that they didnt deserve.
  newfieldreads | Feb 8, 2010 |
There are a lot of potentially interesting stories in this book -- the flamboyant BALCO founder, Victor Conte; the deeply flawed baseball star Barry Bonds; the science of steroids; the culture of steroids in sport; the activity of BALCO in the track and field world...

Sadly, Fainaru-Wada (ironic last name!) tries to tell all of them. The book ends up as an unfocused laundry list of anecdotes rather than a coherent argument or narrative. And it suffers from the same flaw as _The Price of Admission_ -- to wit, it takes for granted that its readers will feel outrage about its topic, and therefore doesn't even try to make an argument against steroid use, to consider alternate points of view, or to temper its rhetoric. Pet peeve: I hate it when books presume my emotional reaction to the material; it makes me cranky and contrarian. And I also hate it when books aren't coherently structured, so...two stars. It's too bad; the author's done some great research, and there are closely related books I would like a lot. ( )
1 vote Andromeda_Yelton | Aug 3, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mark Fainaru-Wadaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Williams, Lancemain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0739323806, Audio CD)

This audiobook is the window into the underground world of cheating at the highest levels, which set off a frenzy of activity and hand-wringing in the offices of Major League Baseball and Congress. Through the authors' pursuit of sources and documents, they were able to open for public view a world in which elite athletes trade money and risk their health for the edge that will allow them to run faster, hit harder, and compete longer--and then cash in on the fame and wealth that comes only to those at the very top of their games.

What the compelling newspaper articles weren't able to provide is the kind of narrative and inside-baseball look at BALCO that only a book or audiobook could explore. This is the definitive account of the sports story of our times, as written by the journalists who blew it open.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:48 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The complete inside story of the shocking steroids scandal that made headlines across the country - told by the award-winning reporters who broke the story and featuring major new revelations about high-profile athletes. For years, in the shadowy reaches of the world of sport, there were rumors that some of our nation's greatest athletes were using steroids, human growth hormone, and other drugs to run faster, jump higher, and hit harder. But as track stars like Marion Jones blazed their way to Olympic medals and sluggers such as Mark McGwire brought fans back to baseball with stratospheric home runs, sports officials, the media, and fans looked past the rumors and cheered on the stars to ever-higher levels of performance. Then, in December 2004, after more than fifteen months of relentless reporting, San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams broke the story of the Bay Area Lab Co-operative, a tiny nutritional supplement company that according to sworn testimony was supplying elite athletes, including baseball MVP Jason Giambi, with banned drugs. The stories, exposing rampant cheating at the highest levels of athletics, shocked the nation as sports heroes were brought low and their records were tainted. The exposes led to Congressional hearings on baseball's drug problems, and a revived effort to purge the U.S. Olympic movement of drug cheats. Now, in Game of Shadows, Fainaru-Wada and Williams tell the complete story of BALCO and the investigation that has shaken the foundations of the sporting world. They reveal how an obscure, self-proclaimed nutritionist, Victor Conte, became a steroid svengali to multi-millionaire athletes desperate for a competitive edge, and how he created superstars with his potent cocktails of miracle drugs. They expose the international web of coaches and trainers who funneled athletes to BALCO, and how the drug cheats stayed a step ahead of the testing agencies and the law. They detail how an aggressive IRS investigator doggedly gathered evidence until Conte and his co-conspirators were brought to justice. And at the center of the story is the biggest star of them all, Barry Bonds, the muscle-bound MVP outfielder of the San Francisco Giants whose suspicious late-career renaissance has him threatening Hank Aaron's all-time home run record. Shocking, revelatory, and page-turning, Game of Shadows casts light into the shadows of American sport to reveal the dark truths at the heart of the game today.… (more)

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