Cover for CHAPMAN: Sandow the Magnificent: Eugen Sandow and the Beginnings of Bodybuilding. Click for larger image

Sandow the Magnificent

Eugen Sandow and the Beginnings of Bodybuilding

The strongman whose pioneering focus on physique built an entertainment empire

Before Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Reeves, or Charles Atlas, there was German-born Eugen Sandow (1867-1925), a muscular vaudeville strongman who used his good looks, intelligence, and business savvy to forge a fitness empire.

Sandow the Magnificent is the story of this first showman to emphasize physique display rather than lifting prowess. Sandow's also is the story of the earliest days of the fitness movement, during which he established a worldwide chain of gyms, published a popular magazine, sold exercise equipment, and pioneered the use of food supplements. David L. Chapman explains the popularity of physical culture in terms of its wider social implications, and how Sandow encouraged the fitness craze that continues today by making exercise fashionable.

As the first superstar in his field, Sandow also pried open some surprising cracks in the Victorian wall of prudery. After many of his major public events he gave private "receptions" wearing little more than a G-string. Sandow the Magnificent also includes many of the strongman's revealing photographs, which were anxiously sought by both male and female admirers. This new edition has been revised and enlarged with an extensive afterword that includes much unpublished information, new photographs of Sandow and his contemporaries, and an updated index.


"Sandow the Magnificent displays a deft prose style and an intriguing presentation of the great man's life. . . . Serious students of iron history who do not obtain this book should consider redefining themselves."--Joe Roark, FLEX magazine

"A fascinating story. . . . Arnold, eat your heart out!"--Elliot J. Gorn, editor of Muhammad Ali: The People's Champ

"Chapman has written a first-rate biography and one that will continue to play an important role in our understanding of the body and the world of physical culture."--Jan Todd, Journal of Sport History


David L. Chapman lives in Seattle and teaches social studies at a local high school. He is the author of several books on bodybuilding photography and is a regular contributor to many academic and popular magazines.

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(773) 702-7000 (International)

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