Strong As Sandow: How Eugen Sandow Became The Strongest Man On Earth


Author: Don Tate

Illustrator: Don Tate

Published: August, 2017

Publisher: Charlesbridge

See: for more information about the creation of the book, primary sources, research, more!

Friedrich Müller was born sickly and weak, yet he longed to be athletic and strong, like ancient Greek and Roman gladiators. Little Friedrich Müller exercised and exercised but to no avail.

As a young man, Müller found himself under the tutelage of a professional body builder. He learned to work out harder. He lifted heavier weights. Over time, he got bigger and stronger. Then he changed his name to Eugen Sandow.

After defeating the strongest of all strongmen in Europe, Eugen Sandow became a super star. Eventually, he become known as “The Strongest Man on Earth.” Everyone wanted to become “as strong as Sandow.”

Inspired by his own experiences in the sport of body-building, Don Tate tells the story of how Eugen Sandow changed the way people think about exercise and physical fitness.

Backmatter includes more information about Sandow, with suggestions for exercise. An author’s note and extensive bibliography are included.




Click here to download the STRONG AS SANDOW standards-aligned Educator’s Guide for Grades 2-3 for classrooms, libraries, and community groups.

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Click here to download the STRONG AS SANDOW Discussion Guide for Grades 2-3.



A Junior Library Guild Selection, Fall 2016



The Horn Book ** Starred review **

“The life of Eugen Sandow (1867–1925), a Victorian-era bodybuilding superstar dubbed “the Modern Hercules,” is rife with mystery. Not only did his family destroy his belongings after his death, but articles and books on Sandow are often contradictory. Tate (a former bodybuilder himself ) reconciles these challenges by telling the story as “Sandow would have wanted it told”—with drama and flair.”


School Library Journal ** Starred review **

“Tate’s mixed-media illustrations feature characters, especially Sandow, with oversize, highly expressive faces. The muted colors are appropriate to the historical setting. The artwork is chock-full of humorous, cartoonish details that greatly enhance the story. In the afterword, Tate provides additional biographical information on both Sandow and himself. He includes a few simple exercises for kids and a well-developed bibliography. This title would be a good companion to Meghan McCarthy’s Strong Man: The Story of Charles Atlas, reinforcing the themes of physical fitness and the importance of healthy choices. VERDICT An excellent introduction to a historical figure that will appeal not only to children already interested in sports and fitness but also to those in need of encouragement.”


Publishers Weekly

“Strong, crayonlike lines bring definition to [Sandow’s] muscles in Tate’s dynamic illustrations . . .”


The Bulletin

“[P]resented here with a liberal helping of humor, and if viewers aren’t rolling on the floor over the early twentieth century body-builder’s costumes, they will be over the Sandow’s own stint as a life model in an art studio. As engaging as Sandow’s story is, endnotes command equal attention, particularly the historical follow-up in the afterword and Tate’s own body-building interests and experience (complete with photograph) in the author’s note.”



“[A] solid addition to any biography section.”


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