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Steroid Nation: Juiced Home Run Totals, Anti-aging Miracles, and a Hercules in Every High School [Hardcover]

Assael , Shaun
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 Nov 2007
When the science let's people fulfill their greatest desires, where is the line drawn? In the tradition of And The Band Played On, award-winning journalist Shaun Assael looks at America's complicated love affair with steroids and how it has grown into a worldwide drug addiction. Steroid Nation presents a chilling portrait of a nation enamoured with artifically pumped success. Chronicling steroid use far beyond the headlines, it begins with the bodybuilders of Venice Beach in the 1970s and continues through to the scandals of today.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: ESPN; 1 edition (10 Nov 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933060379
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933060378
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.4 x 3.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 104,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute masterpiece 9 April 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As steroids become increasingly popular in the UK and playing sport myself i was drawn to this book to see how it had affected the people and a nation that had used steroids, supplements and other performance enhancing products for many years.

This book is an eye opener. I was pleased to discover it wasn't an outright attack on a product which. As many people (Doctors included) would agree. Can be used safely to attain the gains a person desires. As with the book I would not for one second promote steroid use or outright condem it. Although highlighted throughout the book are harrowing stories of how prolonged, excessive steroid use can affect someone.

It is shocking the depth that this drug has gone in the USA where not only professional athletes are taking it under medical supervision for an "edge" but also high school athletes and even high school kids looking to improve their physiques are taking what can be a very dangerous drug.
Even more shocking is what the book highlights about legal supplements and how these can have a similar and in some cases worse negative affect.

If you are an athlete, body builder, fitness enthusiast or even if you are someone who is interested in sociology you MUST buy this book. Honest, frank and impartial this book is an utter joy to read. You will not want to put it down!!!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read 27 Dec 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very informative. Does not choose a side on the debate, just tells the story as it is (was) Excellent read if you are interested in Chemical enhancement and its history.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The problem is far more extensive than most realize... 2 Dec 2007
By Thomas Duff - Published on
It's impossible to be a fan of sports these days and not be aware of the role that steroids play in the lives of athletes. If you listen to the athletes themselves, only a few rogue players get sucked up in the juice. But any rational human knows that the truth is something completely different. In the book Steroid Nation: Juiced Home Run Totals, Anti-aging Miracles, and a Hercules in Every High School: The Secret History of America's True Drug Addiction, Shaun Assael looks at steroid use in America from 1981 to today. You can't help but draw the conclusion that there is a vast conspiracy of silence that allows this to go on in professional and amateur sports.

Band of Believers - 1981 - 1992: The Guru of Venice; "Zee Codes, Zey Are Missing", Mules, Threesomes, and Mom; The Running Man; Inside Job; Blow Out; The Biggest Believers
Tapping the Vein - 1992 - 2000: Mormon Money; The Perfect Pitch; Solace and Sex; 'Cause I'm TNT, I'm Dynamite!; The King Is Dead
Long Live The King - 2000 - Present: The Right Stuff; A Bully Pulpit; The Scientist Strikes Back; The Two Arnolds; State of the Union; This Is War; A Vicious Cycle; Growing Pains
Acknowledgments; Bibliography; Source Notes; Index

Assael goes back to the days of the Underground Steroid Handbook and Dan Duchaine. Duchaine became known as "The Guru" due to his extensive knowledge and experimentation with performance enhancing drugs. Working out of the Gold's Gym in Venice, he quickly became the go-to guy when bodybuilders wanted to get bigger and athletes needed to get stronger. While these drug sales were far from legal, the government wasn't as motivated to prosecute as they are in today's environment. But that doesn't mean that all the players were staying out of jail. Duchaine did a couple of jail stints, and his life started to slide downhill at a rapid pace as he became addicted to some of his chemical concoctions. His destructive behavior also affected his relationships with women, as ones that stayed around more than a week or two usually ended up physically wrecked in the long run.

Duchaine isn't the only story in Steroid Nation, however. There are other dealers who have become front-page names, like Victor Conte from BALCO. Dealers abound both locally and internationally as the technology becomes more available and the profit potential skyrockets. The government agents, such as Don Catlin and Terry Madden, are forever fighting a battle where the criminals are usually a step or two ahead of law enforcement and the science of detection. And then there are the athletes and celebrities... Lyle Alzado, Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Sylvester Stallone, and many others. The gap between the public image and the actual behavior is incredibly vast. Nearly all deny there are any chemical shenanigans going on, even after positive tests. And even the assertions of being clean due to no positive test results rings hollow, as the chemicals used and masking agents employed change far faster than the testing labs can be updated. And if a new substance is out there that can't be detected (think "Clear" and "Cream" from BALCO), then it may just be a matter of luck that the testing labs will ever find out.

Assael writes a good story with extensive documentation. Steroid Nation is a bit slow in the beginning, as the direction of the story seems to be a bit muddled. But once I got about 50 pages in, I was completely hooked. I know that steroids are a real problem in sports. But after reading this book, I'm of the opinion that far more people are using than testing results would indicate. And while the heads of sporting leagues (and even the fans) want to believe that there's not a problem, they also don't want to go back to the days when their stars looked normal, not "larger than life".

Steroid Nation will open your eyes to the true nature and extent of the problem, as well as the hypocrisy of those who would want you to believe that they are eradicating steroids and winning the war.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read For Sports Fans. 7 Nov 2007
By Salvator Marinello - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Shaun Assael, in his book Steroid Nation*, does a great job of weaving the threads of the steroid story from its less than humble beginnings as part of the Venice Beach bodybuilding underground to the Tour de France scandal, use by NFL stars and Major League Baseball players and Olympic champions. Assael tells the story of how the Dan Duchaine, the original steroid guru, opened up Pandora's Box when he published the Underground Steroid Handbook for Men and Women in 1982, and set in motion events that were responsible for - among other things - the BALCO Labs performance-enhancing drug scandal, the drug related deaths of professional wrestlers and the creation of the multi-billion dollar dietary supplement industry.

Steroid Nation* is a crazy story of mad geniuses, smugglers, drug dealers, underground gurus, self-taught chemists, deviants, narcissists, human guinea pigs, cheaters and liars. For people who have had their head in the sand with regard the steroids in sports scandal, Steroid Nation* will grab them by the scruff of their collective necks and shake them into awareness. The uninitiated will be amazed that a sociopath like Dan Duchaine could have had an influence on everything from the explosion of the use of steroids and human growth hormone to the creation of the drugs that were at the heart of the BALCO Labs scandal.

The amazing thing about how performance-enhancing drugs have affected the world of recreational activities and sport, is that there is a coherent string running through the story that connects the pioneers of the movement 30 years ago - Duchaine and his contemporaries; people that nobody has really ever heard of - to some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment of the past 10 years. A business that was as underground and as seedy as any seedy underground business could ever be, affected and then turned into something public, high-tech and lucrative.

Steroids, human growth hormone, creatine, androstendione, legal and illegal supplements have all been developed and used by people looking to get an edge, make some money and build a following. Steroid Nation* tells the story of how underground chemists looking for the next hot drug and supplement developed substances of dubious efficacy and that made people fortunes, while creating problems for the anti-doping movement.

Steroid Nation* is a great book, a book that tells a lot of stories and a book that every sports fan should read. If you don't understand the fuss about steroids, this book will help put things into perspective. "The Juice" isn't something that just came onto the scene, and athletes haven't just started cheating over the past few years.

The current performance-enhancing drug scandal didn't start with Marion Jones, Ben Johnson, BALCO Labs or Barry Bonds. The scandal started 30 years ago and has been growing the whole time, bubbling to the surface every once in a while. Read Shaun Assael's book Steroid Nation* so that you can get up to speed and understand the story that's been going on since the 1970s and that will continue to unfold in new and crazy ways as time goes by.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but Incomplete 16 Mar 2010
By D. Miller - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The cops and robbers part of this book is excellent, as the author draws nice profiles of the major characters, and follows the legislative and legal history of steroids. He keeps up interest as you get to "know" the enforcers, the "gurus", scientists, coaches and others including the famous governor of my state. He also does a good job of explaining how steroids and other enhancement drugs work in your body. I think he was pretty fair in not overly demonizing the bad guys or hero worshiping the good guys.

However, I was frustrated by much that was left out. For example, in the first chapter he talks about a steroid advocate being in regular contact with strength coaches of major NCAA schools without identifying the schools. He also doesn't give much information on what the long term effects of these drugs are. He gives a few scary examples of individuals who died before their time, and in a late chapter he mentions scores of ex-wresters dying at an early age (but doesn't say what they died of - though he implies it's of heart problems).

Finally, he doesn't get into the usage of steroids in the beef and poultry industries and what those health consequences might be, and / or how they are regulated.

I'm afraid we're still waiting for the definitive book on steroids in society, but it's a good read with some interesting information.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive research 21 Jan 2012
By Analise - Published on
I thought this book was a fantastic representation of the steroids timelines. The book was heavy with details but easy to digest due to the anecdotes.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening read 20 July 2008
By Sunday Morning - Published on
Excellent book on how steroids moved from the gym culture in California to mainstream America, from professional to high school athletics and strange way we view steroids - classifying them as dangerous drugs while giving those who make, distribute or use them little more than a slap on the wrist. I liked the personal anecdotes about the people involved, which lent a lot of color to a very throughly researched book. I'm looking forward to learning more about this topic, especially as the Beijing Olympics unfold. It will be interesting to see how the IOC handles the issue this go around.
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