MUSCLE, SMOKE & MIRRORS VOL. II The Pumping Iron Years, Nautilus Emerges. By Randy Roach.
Review by David Gentle.
www.musclessmokeandmirrors.com Printed in USA. ISBN 978-1-4670-3 84 l-6(sc)
If you had bought and read Volume 1 of the above title by Randy Roach, then you would have no requirement from me to recommend the second volume of an intended trilogy. The premier volume with its encyclopaedic, highly researched, yet remaining highly readable account of the early life and times of bodybuilding and its icons, would ensure that you, like me, would be waiting restlessly for the next issue to show and continue with the story and fascinating tales of the movers and shakers in the wonderful world of those who wish to improve their health, strength, vanity or sheer wealth. The last century of “modern muscle building” the beginnings of which was written in volume one, continues into the follow up era. Of Pumping Iron, The Iron Game, Nautilus and other fixed machines designed to develop muscles, along with recounting the human “inside ” story of those who led or were inspired by the next band of “Makers of Men “, or “Builders of Champions”
The sheer amount of research almost extends beyond belief. It’s said a man must read a library to write a book, well, Randy has not only turned over a library, but also used his time and effort to quiz all those active then and now without including the bull shit or as Arnold reputedly said, the “Comic book” style of writing and reporting. Randy, an expert nutritionist, goes into frightening detail of the use and abuse of drugs without pulling any stops. Despite my own long association with body-building( over 50 years), even I was astounded at the massive amounts of chemicals the “champions” were using simply to win tinny trophies, risking death along the way. I once wrote an article in the 70s, “Dying to Win”. Randy’s revelations go way and beyond any knowledge I had at the time, making earlier writers look either naiVe or down right liars. The insiders look at Arthur Jones is worth the price of the book. Jones “back in the days”, almost took over Iron Man with his adverts for Nautilus, which interested some, and annoyed others, myself included. We all learn over time including Jones,and truth turns out to be more complex than at first we wish.
Into the equation, comes those with other views, the “infamous” self opinionatedVince Gironda, and early man of supplement fame, Rheo Blair aka Irvin Johnson.The latter also propping up Peary Rader’s magazine with adverts. Those then training believing that the champions we were cheering on were obtaining muscle by milk extracts rather than actually using needles and pills of secret substances. Riding alongside all of this Randy refers often to the so called “Muscle Wars” betweenHoffman, Lurie, Weider and the Europeans, mainly Heidenstam of NABBA. Sad as it is at times, knowing the guy who slogged away in the gym using the latest, to again quote Arnold “Comic book system” was being kidded into buying products as useless as a chocolate tea pot. It remains better that the truth is finally out of the bag.
I don’t know where Randy is going to take us next in his final tome of the trilogy. Whatever or wherever it goes, it will be enlightening and interesting and put more than a few myths to bed. This is not, nor was ever meant to be a “How to build giant arms“type of book, but it will build your knowledge, and with knowledge comes strength.
Book now available on Amazon. Review by David Gentle, features editor Health andStrength magazine, published continuously since 1898.