Lance Armstrong and Sally Jenkins: It's not About the Bike
An extraordinary story, well told.
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Willy Voet: Breaking the Chain Another view of cycling in the same era
JPOC Rating

Eight out of ten.
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My Review

Lance Armstrong's life is a fascinating tale and Sally Jenkins tells it very well. The basic outline is well known. From a tough background in Texas, Armstrong entered the world of professional cycling and won the world road racing championship. It appeared that he had a great career ahead of him but in 1996 he was struck by testicular cancer. By the time that he visited a doctor, the cancer was advanced and had spread to his lungs and brain. Despite the poor prognosis, he recovered from the disease and went on to return to the highest levels of professional cycling and win the Tour de France, the sport's blue ribbon event.

Sally Jenkins is an accomplished sports writer and she has done a fine job to render Armstrong's story into a gripping and fluid read. I finished this book in one sitting and I think that many readers will do the same. In terms of gritty detail, there is more about cancer treatment than about the Tour de France and the detail is explicit. Reading this book will give you a vivid picture of what it is like to face a course of chemotherapy.

I do not want to make a judgment on the man himself. Some readers will be in awe of his achievements while others will be exasperated by his faults. I cannot recommend this book as an inspirational read either. Anyone who can complete the Tour de France let alone win it posesses levels of physical and mental toughness that are so far beyond normal experience as to seem superhuman. Rather than being inspired, a cancer sufferer given this book to read could just as easily see the message that if you are superman, you can fight cancer. Seen instead as a fascinating tale the book is a compelling read.

Even if you have no interest in cycling, this book is still worth reading. I am very glad that I read it and I think that most people who pick it up will feel the same way.

You will probably want to buy one of the later editions as they contain additional material relating to Armstrong's second tour win in 2000.