So hooked by audio that I have to read books aloud. *If my reviews help, please let me know.
First of all, bravo to Macur, not only for her excellent job of journalism here, but for having the balls to stand up to Armstrong's cocky insistence, "You can write what you want, but your book is called Cycle of Lies? That has to change!" Evidently, the fallen, self-aggrandizing demigod is still juiced up on a cocktail of arrogance, bullying, moral relativism, and egotism. I'm more fascinated than disgusted -- as long as I don't have a full stomach. I'm also fascinated by Pete Rose, Bernie Madoff, the Emperor's new parade outfit, Presidents that scrutinize what the meaning of the word 'is' is, and anyone that has to have Oprah Winfrey clarify the word *cheater*.
Oprah: You did not feel that you were cheating taking banned drugs?
Armstrong: I went in and just looked up the definition of cheat. And the definition of cheat is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe that they don't have. I didn't view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field.
Almost everything that has come out of this guy's mouth since he was finally cornered and force fed the irrefutable evidence, is a toxic sound bite arguing the case against there being even a miniscule glimmer of remorse, enlightenment, or humility within.
Cycle of Lies (nee-ner-nee-ner-nee-ner) is a *fascinating* and wonderfully researched book that rises above previous points of view and factoid pieces of work, setting some records straight, and obliterating others. Macur's one on one journalistic relationship with Armstrong (often more like a sparring partnership), and hours of conversations with insiders that have never spoken before about their knowledge of Armstrong, due to a doping *Omertà* among the cyclists, reveal whole new levels of ugliness to the grand deception. Called "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen," by the Union Cycliste International (UCI), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC). [Omertà implies "the categorical prohibition of cooperation with state authorities or reliance on its services, even when one has been victim of a crime"; a term used by the Mafia; or the equivalent of a pinkie-swear among cycling dopers.]
Probably the most revealing and damning information comes from Macur's exclusive access to 26 hrs. of taped testimony from Armstrong's mentor and surrogate father, J.T. Neal. Beyond the doping facts, Neal gives a clear picture of a boy that was ruthlessly mean, self-centered, and uncaring, who grew up to be a man that magnified those traits, determined to win at all costs. There is nary a kind word spoken of the champion (that actually never was, according to information contained in Cycle of Lies). Which shouldn't be so surprising dealing with a man that "used cancer as his shield many times," [The Armstrong Lie; Alex Gibney] and discarded people like used up garbage. Just when you begin to wonder if Macur had a wee bit of a get-back fantasy, a secret desire to dish out crow -- surely there has to be some tenderness, some softness somewhere, some pleasant testimony powerful enough to redeem the self-justification and destruction -- Armstrong opens his mouth and spits out another arrogant comment, demanding pity for money problems that ensued after sponsor's jumped ship, or thanks from corporations that owe their success singularly to him. He just doesn't get it.
Before listening to this book, I read Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever, by Reed Albergotti, and wrote down this quote: “...Lance is the inevitable product of our celebrity-worshipping culture and the whole money-mad world of sports gone amok. This is the Golden Age of fraud, an era of general willingness to ignore and justify the wrongdoings of the rich and powerful, which makes every lie bigger and widens its destructive path.” I think Macur eloquently makes the point that Lance is the product of Lance, and in the end, for any of us and our choices, the responsibility is ours alone.
If you are still hanging onto one of those rubber yellow wristbands, you're probably not going to appreciate a great job by author Juliet Macur. A cyclist myself, I found the book engrossing, with each mind-boggling revelation leading into another, more absurd than the previous. I tossed my Live Strong band, unworn, years ago. It's not my job to judge or forgive; I just remain fascinated, and in the saddle.
Other than a few great card tricks (and some drink recipes that sound intoxicatingly good) NPH doesn't have much up his sleeve these days since coming out of the closet in '06. Anyone with a TV is familiar with the former child actor Dr. Doogie and has seen his successful transitions to adult actor, Broadway star, multi-talented host and entertainer, and committed partner and parent (absolutely darling twins, you should look up their yearly Halloween photos!). It's clear that in a relatively un-tumultuous life (by Hollywood showbiz standards) the guy has had a pretty smooth trip chasing his destiny toward the big bright lights. He's kept his cute little boyish nose clean, side stepped a few bad reviews to keep plugging away, and stayed pretty steady.
So, keeping it all humble... what could possibly carry the autobiography of an actor that has only lived 40 something years...without a drug addiction, reality show, or other scandal or dark deed featured on a magazine cover in the checkout line at the grocery store? Wait for it...showmanship, gratitude, and pizzazz in spades. Harris is even entertaining in print; funny enough to laugh hard at himself, down to earth enough to talk about the humility of being able to be a parent, and real enough to express the love he has realized by having his own family.
Sure it's largely gimmicky owing to the format--but this is personal revelation and show biz at it's most fun. The magic tricks alone sound worth the practice to awe your family and friends; the drinks good enough to make a few trips to the liquor store; and the instructions and recipes are PDF included!! (And I howled out loud with laughter when David disappeared off the edge of the mountain while they were...read and find out--this is very funny stuff, I'm laughing again right now!) Like a Broadway show itself; fun entertaining book--and don't miss the PDF download. Sometimes it's nice to hear from a person that could have anything, that family and friends matter most.