The definitive account of Lance Armstrong's spectacular rise and fall.
In June 2013, when Lance Armstrong fled his palatial home in Texas, downsizing in the face of multimillion-dollar lawsuits, Juliet Macur was there - talking to his girlfriend and children and listening to Armstrong's version of the truth. She was one of the few media members aside from Oprah Winfrey to be granted extended one-on-one access to the most famous pariah in sports.
At the center of Cycle of Lies is Armstrong himself, revealed through face-to-face interviews.
But this unfolding narrative is given depth and breadth by the firsthand accounts of more than 100 witnesses, including family members whom Armstrong had long since turned his back on - the adoptive father who gave him the Armstrong name, a grandmother, an aunt. Perhaps most damning of all is the taped testimony of the late J. T. Neal, the most influential of Armstrong's many father figures, recorded in the final years of Neal's life as he lost his battle with cancer just as Armstrong gained fame for surviving the disease.
In the end, it was Armstrong's former friends, those who had once occupied the precious space of his inner circle, who betrayed him. They were the ones who dealt Armstrong his fatal blow by breaking the code of silence that shielded the public from the grim truth about the sport of cycling - and the grim truth about its golden boy, Armstrong.
Threading together the vivid and disparate voices of those with intimate knowledge of the private and public Armstrong, Macur weaves a comprehensive and unforgettably rich tapestry of one man's astonishing rise to global fame and fortune and his devastating fall from grace.
©2014 Juliet Macur (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers
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.
Like Wheelmen, this book falls short due to being written by someone outside the sport looking in and trying to piece together what happened. This is the trouble with all non-first account reports. This is why Hamilton's book is the best out of the three. This book was second. Also, it may be a function of audio narration but the tone of the book was so mocking it was distracting. I actually think when a female attempts to do a male voice it just comes across as comical mockery. That is just my impression after listening to the book. Anyway, worth a credit and a listen if you follow this story like I do.
Cycle of Lies was a true eye opener to not only what Lance Armstrong did but to the history of cycling. Prepare yourself for a jaw opener because it was truly unbelievable what Armstrong and his fellow cyclists put their bodies through in order to win. Blood doping, the use of testosterone and cortisone, as well as EPO were all employed to achieve cycling domination. What was equally astonishing was his arrogance. He vehemently denied doping throughout his career until he was forced into a corner and even then he was anything but remorseful. "If everyone was doing it, then it was not cheating." Never mind the physical consequences that he and others riders put themselves through by taking these toxic drugs - winning was all that mattered.
Besides relating about his cycling career and personal life, there are quite a few mentions of the charity, LiveStrong, that he founded and how it was affected by his "victories" and then ultimate downfall. It is a shame that such a positive cause was diminished by the selfish actions of one person. What's even more discouraging is the fact that he tries to justify his doping and actions by arguing that he helped millions of cancer patients with his charity.
Macur did a great job at writing from a neutral standpoint. She could have been more subjective in her painting of him but the readers can come to a clear understanding and judgment of Lance Armstrong just by listening to the quotes that she offers from him. First hand witness accounts are also provided and they also shed light on the person that Armstrong is. He is a brutal monster that equates himself to some god. It was liberating to finally read that he was held accountable for his actions.
Worst narration ever. 95% of the characters are male, so why pick a female? (I'm guessing because the author is female, and she narrates the first part.).
The book only attacks Lance. Lance actually didn't cheat, every other team was doping. Her thesis is "anyone could have won with doping". Lance is a remarkable athlete (who is probably the ass she points out), but she never develops any stories about the amazing things he's done. The book is just 3rd party accounts of how Lance is an asshole and a big cheat.
She's awesome doing female voices, so yes, if the main characters were female.
I had a low opinion of LA until I read this book, now my low opinion is of the author who clearly doesn't understand the demands of tour riders.
LA is not 100% bad as Juliet Macur asserts. If you want to hate LA, maybe this book is for you.
Fabulous, detailed history of the Armstrong years. I was a Lance believer until the very end, this reads to me as a balanced recounting of that period. There's a fair portion of the quotes come directly from Armstrong, and they paint a picture of the man. What that picture is is up to the listener to interpret. Sports or cycling fans, don't miss it.
A must for the cycling fan. Macur gives a detailed account of the rise and fall of Armstrong. She describes both his cycling history as well as his psychological structure while offering the reader a chance to decide upon his fate.
As a father of a daughter who was diagnosed with cancer and myself suffering a running injury and having to get a bike and ride (2002)....I took passion in riding and devouring the books and training book from Carmichael.....I was severely let down, but continue to ride...Lance Armstrong is an arrogant prick...and he still lives very comfortably....I want a refund on all his books and the time I spent riding with him as a motivator....
Great detail that I have not seen in this format. I also loved Hamilton's book.
I never knew that Lance's mom claimed to have raised her son as a "single mom". How is this possible? Was she not married for most (if not all) of Lance's childhood and adolescence?
The cycle of lies, lies, lies never stopped. Just tell it like it is. Armstrong and Brian Williams have a way of changing the past and they way they remember it. There are two sides to every story.
It's very good, although the book itself is quite biased against Lance Armstrong.
The detail used to describe the legal proceedings was very important to the book. Without it, the book is a way to throw mud on Armstrong.
I liked how the author recapped, but did not dwell on the specific Tour races. However, hearing the specificity of Landis' training and personality foibles was very interesting.
This book is not quite an objective view on the doping scandal in cycling through the 90s and 00s. Much of the focus is on Lance Armstrong, which makes sense since he was the dominant rider and personality during that time. While listening, it seemed clear to me that Lance understood at some level that he would get caught and his kingdom would crumble, but he worked as hard as possible to delay that from happening. His attacking of former friends and colleagues showed his arrogance, but also showed their unwillingness to stand up for what they believed. The cycling scandal is often heaped on Lance and it is probably true that he was the point man of the whole thing, but he does not deserve the whole blame. The entire system of cycling was broken (and maybe still is), and for many years, nobody was willing to change things.
Lance was driven to be the best, and in the system created by professional cycling, he was the best. I think it's somewhat piling upon him to have his face front and center on the cover. However, this is an important book and does well in its job to shine a light on the truth behind the doping scandals.
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