Beyond the Universe: The Bill Pearl Story is the book I have been waiting 30 years for! I have copies of Bill's other books, as do millions of other people, but I have always wanted an autobiography of this legend of the iron game.
Bill Pearl is one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time because of his domination of the sport from 1953-1971 (during which he was only defeated ONCE). For me the zenith of his career has to be his 1971 Pro Mr. Universe win, one of the most exciting contests in the history of the sport.
I still remember the old days, before the instant news of the Internet, when muscle fans with no connections to the officials of the sport, had to wait weeks or months to find out who won the top contests. The 1971 Pro Universe was particularly interesting because Joe Weider and Arnold Schwarzenegger had been taunting Bill to compete against Arnold in the Mr. Olympia to prove once-and-for-all who really was the greatest bodybuilder on the planet.
Well, Bill refused to enter Weider's Mr. Olympia, but he did announce a year ahead of time that he would enter the 1971 Pro Mr. Universe in London, England. Bill felt that this would be neutral ground because he and Arnold had both previously won this event.
In winning the Pro Universe, Bill beat the best in the world at that time, including Sergio Oliva, Frank Zane, Boyer Coe, Reg Park, Chris Dickerson and a host of other former Mr. Universes, but Arnold failed to show! In Beyond the Universe we get new insights into the politics and personalities this event from the winner himself.
But the book is not just the story of that contest; it is an autobiography packed with photos of Bill through the years from his first wins in 1953 through his retirement in 1971 up to the present. In telling the story, the book also contains images of the greats of yesterday that inspired or competed against Bill as well as many friends and bodybuilding stars of today.
I have only met and talked briefly with Bill on two occasions: right before he entered the 1971 Universe and in 1980 at the IFBB Universe in the Philippines. He struck me as a humble and friendly person, just the way he portrays himself in the book.
In reading the book I think any reader will also be struck by the innate intelligence of this bodybuilding champion, a characteristic of many of the bodybuilders of the Golden Age of bodybuilding.
Many books are a great read, but how many of them are actually worth buying? This is one of those you will want in your collection. Like Dick Tyler's recent book West Coast Bodybuilding, Beyond the Universe has many great photos and is full of behind-the-scenes anecdotes on the sport that allow the reader to get to know the heroes of bodybuilding better than most people ever will.
The icons of the sport, like John Grimek, Reg Park, Clancy Ross, Sergio Oliva, Lee Haney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, etc., become real, live human beings in Bill's fabulous anecdotes. What a breath of fresh air this book is as Bill pulls no punches; in fact, these stories are often not flattering to their subjects.
One such character is Arthur Jones of Nautilus fame. You will laugh like crazy as Bill describes his experience on a movie set with the idiosyncratic Jones.
What really drives me to read the book over and over is the extreme candor that characterizes Bill's revelation of the disappointments, failures, mistakes, and heartbreaks as well as the joys and accolades of being the premier bodybuilder of the 50s and 60s.
Luckily, it ends well with Bill prosperous and enjoying a successful marriage, reconciliation with his family, continued involvement in business and extracurricular hobbies, such as vast collections of cars, motorcycles, bicycles and toys.
In other words, we get to meet the flesh and blood Bill Pearl developing the ability to live a full and rewarding life beyond his bodybuilding success.
Beyond the Universe is a fun read, but one thread that emerges in the story is a serious look at the meaning of life. All successful people eventually ask themselves whether the road to success was worth the things they had to give up to get there.
Bill reveals his own process of reevaluating his life to see if he had any regrets on his road to success. If you leave this book without thinking about what really is important in life and whether you are spending your minutes on this planet wisely, you are not an introspective person.
The bottom line is that if you love bodybuilding and bodybuilders and want to get into the mindset of one of the greatest icons of the sport, this is the book for you!
Coming Soon! Couples training. Send us your thoughts on the pros and cons of male/female training partners.
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Diane Fields, Member. Legendary Fitness, LLC.
Richard Baldwin, Member. Legendary Physique, LLC.
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Copyright 2004. Diane Fields, Member. Legendary Fitness, LLC. All rights reserved.
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