From Publishers Weekly
When an athlete is as celebrated as Lance Armstrong, journalists tend to approach either with staggering awe or malicious schadenfreude. Refreshingly, Coyle (Hardball
) displays neither. The journalist moved to Armstrong's training base in Spain to cover the months leading up to the cyclist's sixth Tour de France victory in 2004, and the resulting comfort level of Coyle with his subject is palpable. Armstrong emerges from these pages as neither the cancer-surviving saint his American fans admire, nor the soulless, imperialist machine his European detractors hate. Instead, he comes across as a preternaturally gifted athlete barely removed from the death-defying hellion he was as a teenager, fanatically disciplined, gregarious and generous but with a legendarily icy temper. Coyle sweeps over the basics of Armstrong's Texas childhood and fight with cancer, concentrating on his obsessive training—this is a sport where results are measured in ounces and microseconds. He's sometimes too loose with his writing, digressing as though he had all the time in the world, but he tightens up for the grand finale: the Tour. This work is honest, personal and passionate, with plenty to chew on for fans and novices alike.
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*Starred Review* "He seems so simple from a distance," one cyclist described teammate Lance Armstrong. "But the closer you get, the more you realize--this is one very, very complicated guy." If Linda Armstrong Kelly's No Mountain High Enough
(2005) revealed the impetus for son Lance's drive to succeed (anger at absent dad, support from overachieving mom), and Lance's own It's Not about the Bike
(2000) revealed the medical odds he has courageously overcome, Coyle's excellent portrait of the six-time (and counting) Tour de France winner places Armstrong fully in his own element: the road to his victory in the 2004 Tour. The world knows, perhaps ad nauseam,
Armstrong's uncommon will to prevail--"Lance wishes to swallow the world," as his trainer put it--but Coyle's account also shows a laser-sharp managerial style, in the face of monumental distractions, that would be the envy of any Fortune 500 CEO. Coyle, a former senior editor of Outside
magazine, also gives full coverage of Armstrong's extensive support team, his Tour competitors, his focused training regimen, the questions over his suspected use of performance-enhancing drugs, and the (legal) strategies he employs to stay ahead of both the field and his own body's inevitable breakdown. Fueled by superb reporting and the built-in suspense of the 2004 Tour, Lance Armstrong's War
is the equal of its distinguished and very complicated subject. And it's just in time for Armstrong's final Tour de France this July. Alan MooresCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved