Thursday, 31 October 2013

Book Review - Seven Deadly Sins : my pursuit of Lance Armstrong by David Walsh

Seven Deadly Sins : my pursuit of Lance Armstrong by David Walsh

London : Simon & Schuster, 2012                                 ISBN 9781471127533

David Walsh, or the "little Troll" as he was referred to by Lance Armstrong, has written quite a bit on both Armstrong and doping in sport - famously, he co-authored L.A. Confidentiel, which in 2004 laid out the doping case against Armstrong pretty much as has been admitted by him early this year (after both the authors and sources of that book suffered legal harassment from Armstrong for years).

Seven Deadly Sins is a more personal work by Walsh, and is the story of his journey to prove that Armstrong doped his way to his Tour De France victories. The book concludes before Armstrong's admission on the Oprah Winfrey show, but after USADA handed down it's reasoned decision - the final section of the book is a collection of quotes from many of the actors in the saga on their reactions to the "final nail in the coffin" of the doping allegations.

If you've not followed the tortured history of the Armstrong saga, this book is a good place to start, as you not only get a history of Walsh's almost obsessive interest in getting this story, but a good overview of how the evidence built up over time, owing partly to some good journalism, but mostly to the arrogance and bullying of Armstrong, which turned people who might have been willing to stay silent against him.

This is not a book for the complete novice to professional cycling, as Walsh assumes a certain amount of knowledge, and it is written in classic journalese, which means it's easy to read, well-paced, but with a certain amount of cliche, usually when Walsh is describing a new character in the story.

And the story really is a classic moral tale, of facing decisions of right and wrong, truth and lying, and in how hubris brings about a downfall. All the ingredients of a great potboiler, but with the added frisson of being true.

A good read.

Cheers for now, from
A View Over the Bell

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