This blog was originally posted on my former site: http://adamfarrah.net/muscle-smoke-mirrors-book
I just started reading – for the SECOND time – one of the best books I’ve ever come across. The book is Muscle, Smoke and Mirrors, Volume 1 by Randy Roach. Volume 1 starts off in the late 1800’s and leaves off right around the 1960’s – just at the point bodybuilders started experimenting with steroids. The book is impeccably researched and documented. I’d even go so far as to call it scholarly. It’s just that complete and well researched – Volume 1 is over 500 pages itself. Randy does a fantastic job of telling the story of where and how Physical Culture originated and grew in the United States. It’s just a fascinating book!
For me, these are a few of the highlights:
- The book mentions Kettlebells a bunch of times. It’s interesting and instructive to know that they WERE being used in the US around 1900. AND, some of the greats in early Physical Culture were using them.
- Randy does a GREAT job of interweaving the early bodybuilders or Physical Culturists with early nutritional pioneers like Weston Price, Francis Pottenger and Robert McCarrison. He goes into painstaking detail to illustrate the types of diets early bodybuilders were eating and why they were eating them. And I’m talking about INDIVIDUAL diets here. Some of Bernarr McFadden’s dietary theories are particularly interesting to me because he included fasting and a lot of raw food in his routine.
- The book shows that MOST of the early bodybuilders were on Paleolithic type diets consisting of lots of meat, fat, raw milk, raw cream and raw butter.
- Randy also goes into great detail on how our current medical establishment came to power and what that meant to other health practices at the time. I was surprised to learn that our current medical establishment has only been in power since the turn of the 20th Century. Before that, the allopathic model was just one of many models that were considered equally valid.
- Roach also does a great job of showing how our food supply slowly degraded and how this was all connected to the growing Pharmaceutical Industry and other political and industrial factions.
And he does all this within the context of the early days of bodybuilding and weight training. It’s really just a spectacular book.
The website for the book is here: Muscle, Smoke and Mirrors Book