Dave Draper is a bodybuilding legend. His glory days (Mr. America, Mr. Universe, Mr. World) for the most part came before Arnold, but Draper is still pumping in his 60s.
What sets Brother Iron, Sister Steel apart is the pure joy bursting from its pages. Too many bodybuilders and coaches treat the subject with such dry seriousness that the reader sometimes wonders why they do it. With Draper, it's clear that lifting weights is what he loves, and he wants to share that passion. That's also why he's still advising fellow weight lifters on his Web site while most of his contemporaries have disappeared from the scene.
Another thing I like about this book is that Draper has a fairly open philosophy about training. While he has his preferences (he's big on supersets, for example), he accepts that there are many effective methods of training. This is refreshing in a genre where almost every author claims that his or her way is the single best way of building size and/or strength. Draper even suggests inventing your own moves when you're in a slump just to keep things interesting. He takes an "it's all good" approach, so there's something for everyone here. That said, the usual caveat applies: following the routines of Draper or any other champion without having his genetic gifts won't deliver the same results.
In addition to the expected training and nutrition advice, Draper shares stories from his past ranging from hanging out with other bodybuilders to acting in Hollywood. The book has lots of great photos. Some show his awesome muscle development, while others are delightfully cheesy (like his role as "David the Gladiator" introducing movies in 1963). I like the one where he is holding Sharon Tate overhead during the filming of Don't Make Waves. There is also a chapter of Draper's magazine covers from the 1960s. The photos often look silly and/or dated, but what really cracked me up was reading the teasers on the covers because they are so similar to the teasers on modern muscle magazines -- little has changed over the years.
I'd strongly recommend Brother Iron, Sister Steel to anyone with an interest in weight training or bodybuilding. Draper offers a lot of useful advice and great stories, but above all, this is a joyful book of contagious enthusiasm that makes the reader anxious to hit the weights him/herself.
Current tally: 12 books finished, 9 books acquired