THUNDEROUS APPLAUSE

FOR MR. AMERICA

  • NEW YORK TIMES

    “Bernarr Macfadden laid the groundwork for America's current obsession with diet and exercise and our fascination with tabloid news, yet you've probably never heard of him. In this impressive biography, Adams provides historical context throughout and tells the story with journalistic remove, resisting much commentary, even as the reader is busy filling the margins with exclamation points.”

  • WALL STREET JOURNAL

    “It is to Mark Adams’ great credit that, in ‘Mr. America,’ he has rescued from obscurity a man whose influence is still felt in this country more than a century after he muscled his way onto the national scene…It is a remarkable story, and Mr. Adams tells it with the kind of awe and occasional amusement that it deserves. He writes with an easy grace and has plainly gone to great lengths to research his quirky, fascinating subject. He even goes the extra mile and tries some of Macfadden’s early diet and exercise regimens, to see if they work.”

  • WASHINGTON POST

    “Hilarious…Delightful…If Macfadden hadn't existed, we would have had to invent him, yes . . . but who could have? Theodore Dreiser throws up his hands. Sinclair Lewis runs screaming from the scene…‘Mr. America’ may actually be the rare biography — very well, the only biography within the past two decades — that runs too short.”

  • LOS ANGELES TIMES

    “'Mr. America' is an entertaining, enlightening read that gives Macfadden his overdue legacy...Adams deftly wrestles this messy, Herculean life into shape.”

  • ONION A.V. CLUB

    “In his terrific new book, 'Mr. America,' Mark Adams details the rise and fall of one of the most influential and forgotten figures in the development of America’s health obsession...A briskly paced, fascinating biography that manages to convey its subject’s appeal without losing sight of his limitations.” Grade: A.

  • WASHINGTON TIMES

    “It makes no difference whether you start at the beginning of this book, with author Mark Adams' lively story of the bizarre life of America's original health guru, or with the appendix, where Mr. Adams reports on how he himself fared when he put some of Bernarr Macfadden's advice into practice. It's a delightful read.”

  • ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

    “The name Bernarr Macfadden may not ring bells, but during the first half of the 20th century he was one of the most famous men in America — and his influence is still felt everywhere….As recounted by Mark Adams (who self-tested some of Macfadden’s occasionally extreme advice about fasting and exercise in ‘Mr. America’), the improbable saga of this eccentric self-made guru shows that our mania for fad diets and get-fit-quick schemes has deep, and deeply weird, roots. A-minus.”

  • ST. PETERSBURG TIMES

    “Slick...well-researched. A must read for those interested in health and fitness.”

  • FLAVORPILL

    "Whether you're a workout freak or allergic to exercise, you'll enjoy 'Mr. America' for its hilarious yet touching portrait of a man whose physical and personal obsessions made him one of the most influential Americans of his time.”

  • KIRKUS REVIEWS

    "Adams spins a lively yarn in this biography of pioneering health-and-fitness guru Bernarr Macfadden…A funny, informative history of a true American eccentric and the national preoccupation with health and fitness.”

  • PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

    ”This entertaining, briskly written biography rescues from obscurity Bernarr Macfadden, a man whose life would seem almost implausible if it were not true…Adams carefully delineates how Macfadden's growing passion turned his various magazines into a $30-million empire.”

  • BOOKLIST

    ”Bravo to Adams for enabling the rediscovery of this phenomenal American.”

  • LIBRARY JOURNAL

    ”A biography of one of the more amazing people whom few of us today have heard of. . . . Adams's writing style and the fascinating life of Macfadden make this book hard to put down. Highly recommended.”

  • MEN'S JOURNAL

    ”Every decade ushers in a new 'revolutionary' exercise fad (or three). But as 'Mr. America' points out, most of them probably owe a nod to Bernarr Macfadden and his magazine Physical Culture.”

  • DETAILS

    ”With such a great eccentric as his subject, Mark Adams shrewdly gets out of the way (and gives Macfadden's extreme weight-loss regimens a try.”

  • JOHN HODGMAN,
    resident expert of The Daily Show with John Stewart and author of More Information than You Require

    “Imagine if Rupert Murdoch, Jack LaLanne and Dr. Andrew Weil all got together and had a baby, then raised that child on wheat germ and 100 pushups a day. Only such a prodigy could give you a sense of the sheer eccentric magnificence of Bernarr Macfadden. Luckily, Mark Adams has brought this lost American legend back to life for us, with surprising insight, sly humor, and even some handy tips on fasting.”

  • ELIZABETH GILBERT,
    author of Eat, Pray, Love

    "This book is a delightful and colorful piece of true Americana. Surely other countries must also sometimes give birth to figures like Bernarr Mcacfadden—a brilliant, ambitious, competitive, compulsively muscular, early 20th century multi-million dollar marketeering genius who launched a wildly successful (though peculiar) health and diet fad. But we Americans really always have done that kind of thing better than anyone else—as this great big story proves. Enjoy every twist and turn of it."

  • BARON BAPTISTE,
    author of Journey Into Power

    "Bernarr Macfadden was the ultimate life coach, the man who set the stage for the world of health and self help as we know it today. This book is required reading for anyone committed to increasing the quality of his or her life."

  • A.J. JACOBS,
    author of The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically

    When you read this book, you'll be astonished you hadn't heard of Bernarr Macfadden—one of the most fascinating, brilliant, bizarre and influential characters in American history. I want to thank Mark Adams for bringing him to light in this great biography, which you’ll devour like a bowl of Macfadden’s Strengtho cereal.

  • THOMAS MALLON,
    author of Bandbox and Dewey Defeats Truman

    "A witty, perfectly pitched re-creation of a long-forgotten and madly outsized figure. Adams will make you laugh with fresh information on every page, and in this age of flabby, overlong biography, his delightful production has a leanness that Macfadden himself would approve of."