During two feverish decades between the world wars, Bernarr Macfadden did more to educate the world about healthy eating, alternative medicine, regular sexual activity, and exercise than anyone in history. A tubercular orphan at age eight, he discovered the nascent fields of vegetarianism and weight lifting, and at the turn of the century founded Physical Culture, the most influential health magazine of all time and the cornerstone of a thirty-million-dollar media empire. His disciples included Upton Sinclair and Charles Atlas; among his employees were Walter Winchell, Ed Sullivan, and Eleanor Roosevelt. He launched the worst newspaper in U.S. history, founded a whole-grain utopian community in the New Jersey suburbs, trained fascist cadets for Mussolini, and came within a hair's breadth of being elected senator from Florida—running on a physical fitness platform.
Yet today few have heard of this larger-than-life entrepreneur who changed American society. In Mr. America, Mark Adams illuminates Macfadden's captivating, ambitious, and unparalleled life. After examining the thousands of diets in Macfadden's revolutionary five-volume Encyclopedia of Physical Culture, Adams plays guinea pig and tests several of the most extreme ones on himself—with amazing, and sometimes hilarious, results.
Mark Adams's writing has appeared in GQ, Outside, The New York Times Magazine, Fortune, Rolling Stone, and National Geographic Adventure, among other publications. He lives near New York City with his wife and their three sons.read more
About: The rise and fall of Bernaar MacFadden, a great promoter of what he called "Physical Culture" which espoused fasting, exercise and healthy eating. Magazines, books, health centers and even a religion are created by Macfadden in order to bolster his cause, bank account and ego. As I had never heard of Macfadden before this book, you can imagine that his huge popularity and empire doesn't last.Pros: A thorough look at a forgotten man, some of whose ideas were ahead of their time (such as eat less, exercise more). Includes notes and bibliography. Adams even tries some of Macfadden's health regimens like fasting and eating all raw foods.Cons: Pictures in a clump in the middle of the book, I like them spread out and placed where they fit the text. No in-text citations. Because Macfadden had so many business ventures, it can sometimes read like a dry business book.Grade: Bread more
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In this entertaining, briskly written biography, journalist Adams rescues from obscurity the history of Bernarr Macfadden, a man whose life would seem almost implausible if it were not true. An orphan born in 1869 Missouri and raised in abject poverty, Macfadden's discovery of the power of exercise led him to start a wildly successful fitness magazine, Physical Culture, that championed a range of health programs that today would be known as "alternative therapies"-as well as introducing muscleman Charles Atlas (an immigrant from Calabria, Italy, named Angelo Siciliano) to the world-creating the template for every fitness magazine published today. But Adams also carefully delineates how Macfadden's growing passion for publishing turned his various magazines into a $30-million empire. Central to this success was True Story, devoted entirely to nonliterary, factual stories told in the first person. And while his New York Evening Graphic was less successful than competing tabloids, Macfadden can claim to be the first person who hired and spotlighted the gossip columns of Walter Winchell and Ed Sullivan-creating another huge impact on American culture to which Adams gives proper due. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved