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

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  5,167 ratings  ·  207 reviews
Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 23rd 2006 by Gotham (first published 2006)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,167 ratings  ·  207 reviews

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Start your review of Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
As far as the investigation goes the authors did a solid job, but there is a lot of exaggeration and a number of baseless assertions and counterfactual claims that harm the book. The authors repeatedly claim Bonds was the best hitter ever. By any objective statistical analysis this is not true. The authors claim synthol is a drug that expands the muscle. It is neither a drug nor does it expand the muscle. It's an injectable oil that sits on top of the muscle. Think saline implants. Look up Gregg ...more
Tom Barber
Aug 04, 2018 rated it liked it
As a baseball fan, I was very interested in the information in this book. Among other things, it is the story of how Major League Baseball and the Players Union absolutely failed to address a pervasive problem in the sport. It also tells the amazing story of Barry Bonds--amazing because of just how incredibly egocentric, brusque, foolish and just mean-spirited he was (and is, I suspect).

The book tells two parallel stories--one concerning baseball and another about track and field. Track comes aw
Jan 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: to-sell, books-i-own
A realistic portrayal of what the sport of baseball, and the overall elite sporting world has become. If you want to keep thinking all is well, and that steroids are a minor part of sports than I would not suggest reading this book. Fainaru-Wada and Williams' research is remarkable, and at sometimes, technically illegal. But they do whatever it takes to get the story, and this was a groundbreaking piece of work. After reading this book, any baseball fan would come to the logical conclusion that ...more
Jim Patton
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Way better than I thought it would be. I thought this would be a boring petty crime story, but turned out to be well written and in depth on the shady side of Bonds and other track athletes. It was shocking to hear how much trust they out in to Conte and took his 'supplements' without any real medical advice. And for these folks, their body is their entire source of income.
Shawn  Stone
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“With few exceptions, the more than three dozen athletes who
appeared before the grand jury admitted taking steroids ... all to
run faster, jump higher, hit the ball farther, and, ultimately, make
more money. Some of the confessions were grudging and evasive. Others were extremely forthcoming. It came down to the same thing: Competitive sports, it turned out, was part mirage, a game of shadows. “
- Game of Shadows

In this engaging book, Fainaru-Wada and Williams pull back the curtain on America’s na
Luke Koran
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball
In a multi-layered investigation spanning years of evidence which covered the art of athletes deceiving drug testers and fans, alike, these two San Francisco Chronicle journalists have exposed the inner workings of the Steroid Era in tremendous detail with plenty of analysis and both far-reaching though quite appropriate conclusions in the book “Game of Shadows.”

As I was coming of age during baseball’s Steroid Era and watched the falling of majestic hitting and home run records on an near-annual
Apr 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is an incredible book...not just because of the story, but, for me, because of the incredible in-depth reporting done by the two authors. This is journalism at its best!

I have been aware of this book for sometime, but at the recent Tucson Festival of Books, both authors were there and gave a riveting account of this on-going story. So many similarities to Watergate and Woodward and Bernstein. I sat in utter fascination for an hour as they told how the story unfolded.

Even more interesting,
Aug 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports, media, nonfiction
It's an impressive piece of journalism from the reporters who got those notorious San Francisco Chronicle scoops during the Balco scandal, but, like many contemporary sports books, it doesn't say much for the integrity of professional sports in the US or abroad. The book works well in its meticulous research and detail about who was using illegal steroids and how, and reading this is certainly not going to renew one's faith in humanity although it does provide some effective moments of schadenfr ...more
Jun 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Game Of Shadows is about BALCO and the impact that it had on the sporting world at large from Baseball (Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Benito Santiago, etc...) to Track and Field (Marion Jones) to Football (Bill Romanowski). But the main crux of this book focused squarely on Barry Bonds, detailing his steroid use starting in 1999.

If Hollywood ever decides to make a movie about BALCO, this is the book they will no doubt use as it's blue print. I for one would love to see it happen bec
Mar 12, 2010 rated it liked it
A fantastic job of investigative reporting and writing. A enjoyable read full of juicy tid-bits, but you just end up feeling bad about the state of baseball and the state of PED in all sports. The real question is who is to blame? I feel like it is an easy answer to just say, “the person taking the PED is to blame” Of course they bear a large part of the responsibility but I don’t think it is that simple. There are so many variable in play; owners want production, they want fans in the seats, th ...more
Brian Eshleman
Aug 26, 2013 rated it liked it
This book did not much scratch my baseball itch. It talked as much about chemistry and about track as it did about baseball. What the book did accomplish is to move my general dislike of Barry Bonds into absolute disgust. His decision to "juice" did not so moved me. I can understand that he had a lot of athletes who wanted to be the best baseball player possible used a chemical advantage to do so under the pressure that they did not want to fall behind. But reading about the way Bonds treated th ...more
Nov 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: sports, non-fiction
I picked up this book thinking it would be more about baseball and sports in general, but it turned out to be focusing on steroids involved with BALCO, not just baseball. It covered many athletes in several sporting events, focusing on many Olympic runners. I found it hard to finish this book, but glad that I did. It was very dry at times and took time to read. If you are into steroids, this is the inside scoop for you.
Matthew Gagnon
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball
I had wanted to read this book for a very long time, but never got around to it. I knew all about Barry Bonds and steroids in baseball from the media reports and endlessly ESPN conversations, so I suppose I never really felt the need to pick it up and read it.

Well I finally got around to it, and I have to say that I genuinely regret having gone this long without reading it.

First and foremost, this was some incredible reporting. After exhaustingly chasing down this information, countless intervie
Aug 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Much like League of Denial, which Fainaru-Wada wrote with his brother, this is a very interesting read. I found League of Denial to be a bit more engaging than Game of Shadows, but otherwise both are quite good. Also like League of Denial, don't read this book if you don't want your love of sports to be shaken.

For me, what sets this book apart from League of Denial is that most of the events in this book fall within my personal memory. I'm not as big a football fan as I am a baseball fan, and se
Jan 23, 2020 rated it liked it
This book offers an in-depth view of the steroid scandal and explores it's consequences for the people involved and to sports as a whole. It covers many personal tragedies that resulted from the steroids and shows how harmful the drugs can have on people and those around them. The corruption of sports, particularly baseball, is also a major focus. It forces us to question if professional sports are really the achievement they're made out to be or the result of cocktails of drugs.

We really get to
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018, sports
This is an okay book which follows the Balco scandal and the emergin culture of steroid use in sports particularly in baseball and track and field. The book seems to go back and forth between chapter on Barry Bonds and his bulking up and the track and field athletes, in particular Marion Jones, that Balco is working with. It ends prior to Jones’s confession and being stripped of her medals and of the Bond’s trial so a lot of information is left out as the case has not concluded at the end of the ...more
Dan Lalande
Nov 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Exemplarily researched history of the BALCO steroids scandal, bravely outing the egotistical Olympians, stuffed-shirt ballplayers, enterprising dealers, and blind-eye bureaucrats who conspired to corrupt their respective sports in the name of personal and corporate advantage. Barry Bonds is the biggest bad guy, and deservedly so; the case the authors amass against him is as beefy as the muscle he applied to the baseball.
Matt Benaka
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thought this would be mostly about Barry Bonds and his drug use as he chased the home run records. Instead it showed the reader that most of our sports have drug-using cheaters. It was very well written and they managed to keep it engaging even while discussing legal and medical situations that I would expect to be very dry and boring.
Christopher DuMont
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really a very good read - it is a bit misleading as much of the book is about the BALCO story and its impact on Track and Field. If you are only interested as a baseball fan, it is worth the read but be prepared for the balance. The book is very well written and it truly demonstrates what a scumbag Barry Bonds is and why he should never be in the Hall of Fame.
Fausto Betances
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
Great book. So many insights into the Barco scandal, including a full account of Barry Bonds brand of steroid consumption and others. Must read for baseball fans.
Graeme Wright
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a good book. Very good. So why only 3 stars? Because in many ways I felt like I was reading a tabloid. Or perhaps it's that I'm disgusted by the scope and depth of the PED scandal. Either way, where once my local GNC received no more than neutral ignorance, I now see it as a portal to a shortcut on the highway to hell.
Feb 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Wow. If even half of this is true, I can't realistically accept anyone's argument for Barry Bonds to be on the Hall of Fame ballot. Records broken by cheating are not records. Period.
Matt Brown
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: personal
Makes you rethink the value of the stats people achieved in baseball.
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this non fiction book on Victor Conte and Balco raid.
I knew about all the rumors about athletes using steroids but had no idea that it was this prevalent and common.
Did not meet expectations.

This book is well researched but much too wordy. It seems like the author put everything he found into print. Reading this book was a chore.
Lee Adams
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I knew quite a bit about the BALCO/Bonds/Cream/Clear history but I guess I didn't realize what a colossal narcissistic @$$hole Bonds is. Thanks for opening my eyes to that as well.
Daniel Mount
This audiobook is an abridgment. I prefer unabridged books. The narration doesn't mention that it's an abridgment until the closing seconds, which is a disappointment.
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A quick, good read for all writers. You will feel buoyed and validated in Goldberg’s hands.
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book was totally great.
William Johnson
The year 2010 is a year where we are starting to see our sports stars as scoundrels. Sure, we always SUSPECTED a lot of them were selfish babies (the baseball strike in 1994, the NBA lockout in 99, the constant threats from the NFL of a future lockout in 2011, etc etc etc) but when an athlete came out as a verified scumbag, it was kind of like an exception to the norm. We still worshipped the people that probably could give a damn about us. I suffer from it still. . .but as 2010 skips past it's ...more
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