Strong Man: The Story of Charles Atlas by Meghan McCarthy

The Story of Charles AtlasCharles Atlas, does the name sound just a little bit familiar?  Known as a former “98-pound weakling” his body building ads filled the back pages of comic books for years.  Atlas was one of the first fitness enthusiasts to go commercial, really commercial.

A new immigrant to New York City—he claims to have been the first Italian to land at Ellis Island—he was actually a scrawny kid named Angelo Siciliano.  Tired of being a punching bag for local tough guys, Angelo decided that if he couldn’t fight his way out of the Lower East Side, he was going to think his way out.  He was a good thinker.  When he could not afford expensive equipment, he devised a series of stretching exercises that eventually started him on the road to fame and fortune.

Not only did he develop amazing strength, he was voted “The World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man.”  He was the model for over 75 statues including those of George Washington in New York City, Thomas Jefferson in Washington, DC and “The Dawn of Glory” in Brooklyn.  He—and his perfect body– posed next to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s birthday cake one year.  Even Mahatma Gandhi asked his advice.  But the advice he most loved to give was to children around the country and around the world.

He encouraged not only strong bodies but cleanliness, industry and nutrition.  The kids ate it up.  So did many of the celebrities of the late thirties and early forties including Joe DiMaggio and boxer, Joe Lewis.  Long before Zac Efron and Vanessa Anne Hudgens, Charles Atlas was a “rock star.”

Although it’s a picture book, this tale will have broad appeal to children and adults alike. Somehow Meghan McCarthy, the author and Charles Atlas aficionado, manages to squeeze a lot of information and entertainment into a tight format.  She’s even included a double page spread of exercises and another of additional background on Atlas.   The illustrations have the look of “cartoony” photographs and keep the tone of the book light.  All together this picture book is a strong contender for the “world’s most perfectly developed” story.

Posted by: Eileen

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    […] prkcs added an interesting post today on Strong Man: The Story of Charles Atlas by Meghan McCarthy.Here’s a small reading:Known as a former “98-pound weakling” his body building ads filled the back pages of comic books for years. Atlas was one of the first fitness enthusiasts to go commercial, really commercial. A new immigrant to New York City—he claims … […]


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