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4.4 out of 5 stars
Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong
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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
The subtitle says it all really. Bordering if not actually attaining obsession, David Walsh, with others duly credited, has made it his goal over the past decade and more to expose Lance Armstrong and other cyclists as the dopers they have subsequently turned out to be. With the recent revelations now out in the open it would be easy for Walsh to adopt an "I told you so" attitude which to be fair I don't think he does in this book. Sure there is a great sense of vindication throughout but the story is told in a refreshingly candid way, personal foibles are reported there are lots of conversations described, good humour abounds, even amongst the frustration and anger, and all in all it is a very engaging read. It's not all about the bike either (sorry couldn't resist) It would appear that Irish swimmer Michele Smith amongst others being exposed as a drugs cheat played a large part in driving Walsh to expose other dopers and he has had a mixed reception amongst the cycling community in Ireland because of his work. There are numerous auto-biographical details as well, from personal tragedies to how his investigations affected his family and friends. This aspect does add a good dose of reality away from the peleton and makes the book more personal rather than an outright piece of journalism. One caveat I have to report is that I haven't actually read "From Lance to Landis" so can't say if there is a lot of repetition or not, there are some bits of journalism which are familiar to me though but it is not a straight regurgitation of these. Even so this is a fine piece of work, an incredible story excellently told.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 28 August 2014
Perhaps more than any other journalist David Walsh pursued the investigation to uncover evidence that Lance Armstrong was cheating by taking illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
Before his cancer treatment Armstrong had competed in the Tour de France four times, finishing 36th once and withdrawing the other three times. When he came back from his treatment to lead it in 1999 – in the first of an unparalleled seven successive wins of the Tour - supposedly drug-free Walsh regarded this as “all about as logical as the Tour being led by a lobster on a bike. A lobster complete with helmet and a moving backstory about a last-minute escape from a pot of boiling water.”
Such a view wasn’t entirely popular, especially as it was directed as a man whose story was an inspiration to millions. One letter writer to Walsh’s newspaper wrote that “Sometimes people get a cancer of the spirit. And maybe that says a lot about them.” The writer was half-right. There was a cancer of the spirit but not in the spirits of those who queried the integrity of the sport and of many of its stars but a cancer in the spirit of those who cheated and – to my mind – more so in the ranks of the officials and administrators who facilitated them. (When Armstrong failed a test in ’99 he was allowed to present a back-dated doctor’s cert to allow the pretence that he wasn’t taking a banned substance but rather had been using an approved ointment).
In journalistic style Walsh recounts “the case for the prosecution” as it were and the story of those brave people who stuck their heads above the parapet to tell the truth.
Some reviews have criticized Walsh for obsessing with Armstrong rather than tackling the wider topic of doping in cycling. I think this is unfair. One person or a small group of people can only do so much and if you can expose the one cyclist whose name was known to the average non-cycling fan this is far more effective in highlighting the problem than exposing a larger number of people whose names mean nothing to the average person in the street.
Another criticism is that the latter part of the book has a different feel to what went before and may have been rushed to cash in on the story. I think there is some truth in this criticism but, if anyone was entitled to cash in, whom more so than David Walsh?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2014
What should have been a great book by a journalist so central to the entire affair was sadly a botched job on all counts. The story rambled at best and seemed incoherent - I was only saved having read Tyler Hamiltons book prior to this. If you wish to see for yourself view the final chapter of the book which is simply a fly through of some dates and a woefully edited account of their events...

Save some time and instead read Tyler Hamiltons The Secret Race
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2013
Having been reading cycling books for some years, I have already read David Walsh's book "From Lance to Landis" and it was this that really made me doubt that Lance had ridden clean.
With the recent revelations and Tyler Hamilton's book - which I consider to be a GREAT read - I was expecting the new book by David Walsh to be something bigger and better than I had read by him before
Unfortunately having just re-read his other book recently I was almost questioning as to whether I had accidentally picked it up again instead of "7 Deadly Sins". It goes over almost all of the points in the other book in about the same sort of length and then when I was getting near the end of the book wondering what the difference was, I found out. There are a few brief notes about recent disclosures, work by the USADA and that's about it.
If you haven't read "From Lance to Landis" save your money and buy this one
It IS well written, it gives a GREAT insight into the people who were affected by Lance throughout his career and I think that anyone interested in that era of cycling will love it
The only reason I marked it down was that so much of it was a rehash - admittedly with a few bits added - of his previous book I felt a bit cheated.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2015
If you read one book about the Tour de France , this has to be The one. This is a book is less about doping in sport but more about one mans unwavering belief and 13 year crusade to out one of the greatest cheats and unsavoury human beings one could encounter.
Walsh and all those who came forward and gave evidence suffered so much at the hands of Armstrong and the establishment that their lives were irrevocably damaged by Armstrongs "Cancer of the Spirit". Armstrong with the aid of UCI controlled the narrative to such an extent that he could have got away with it if he had not come back to fuel his ego again in 2009-2010.
Walsh has an entertaining style which is very clear and punchy in the early part of the book but wavers slightly due his undoubted mental fatigue at the denouement as the various threads of testimony and evidence criss cross to finally snare Armstrong.
Walsh epitomizes the idiom "Stand up and be counted" and his spirit should be an example to us all in a world where so much is taken at face value and we are to lazy to scratch beneath the surface
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2014
This is such an interesting topic, and it's fascinating to read David Walsh's personal take on it. However, this book is so poorly written, I found it really frustrating to read. It meanders and circles around things and seems to lack any sense of how to build a dramatic narrative. In one section, when Walsh is interviewing Armstrong face to face, he decides to veer off into tangents and recollections rather than focus on the interview and convey the tension of the moment. The book is marked by these bizarre, achronological tangents and circumlocutions. Just when you think you're getting somewhere, the story will cut off and circle back around to 1995 or something. A chronological narrative of Walsh's own story would have been a far better read.

Also, while Walsh explains what EPO is and what its affects can be, he never explains blood doping.

I'm reading Wheelmen now. It's a much tighter, more impressively written work and it explains doping in detail, including the blood-doping regimen of US Postal.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 1 March 2013
I have avoided reading David Walsh's book until now with the misguided and faint hope that maybe, just maybe, LA was clean and the fairy tale was true.

Nope. Fabulous journalism. DW is one amongst a few, and a credit to his profession.

His family ought to be incredibly proud of him. Thank you for not giving up.
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on 23 August 2014
Until reading this book, I thought that the Author, David Walsh had played a bigger part in bringing down the reputation of Lance Armstrong, due to the articles published in the Sunday Times. It is now clear from Mr Walsh's book that Lance Armstrong's actual downfall was instigated by the Federal Investigations carried out in the U.S.A plus the damning evidence provided at a late stage by Armstrong's fellow teammate, Floyd Landis.
Mr Walsh descibes how disconsolate he was after thinking that all his years of hard work in investigating Professional Cycling's drug culture were coming to nothing and that in particular , Lance Armstrong was being "let off the hook". However, because of the ongoing investigations, that was not the case and as we all know the disgraced Lance Armstrong did receive his punishment.
The unanswered question contained in this book is "what is being done about the criminal activities of the Cycling Team Doctors, Managers and Coaches etc? To me, these people are the criminal instigators of the doping culture, trying to gain unfair and financial advantage.
In this book, I found the description of how the use of drugs, particularly the performance drug E.P.O, worked on the human
body and how it made experienced cycle race watchers somewhat suspicious, due to the ever increasing speed and the better
hill climbing ability of the riders . But five year on, we are seeing exactly the same high level of perfomance by professional bike-riders . So what's changed?
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on 8 July 2014
Walsh fand einen attraktiven metaphorischen Titel (Seven deadly Sins), benutzte ansonsten die Armstrong Story als "Steinbruch", um vor allem über sich selbst und die kreative Gestaltung seines journalistischen Alltags zu schreiben. Enthüllendes fand ich nicht und empfand das Buch mit jeder weiteren gelesenen Seite allenfalls als Kunst der eitlen journalistischen Selbstbespiegelung. Das englischsprachige Publikum wird jetzt vielleicht einwenden, ich hätte das alles nicht so recht verstanden. Das mag wohl so sein. Eine Reihe von anderen Armstrong-Biographien - auch in Englisch - sind dafür bei mir "angekommen". Eines möchte ich noch hinzufügen: Ein anderer Kommentator schrieb, erst bei der Lektüre eines anderen Buches von David Walsh ('From Lance to Landis') seien bei ihm Zweifel aufgetaucht '...that really made me doubt, that Lance had ridden clean...' Der Kommentator fügte noch an, daß er einige Bücher über dieses Thema gelesen habe. Deshalb, das kann doch eigentlich nicht wahr sein. Seit der ersten Tour (1901 or 1900) sind die branchenweiten Dopingpraktiken bekannt und der erste Dopingtote (ein Engländer) fiel bereits 1885 vom Rad. Und seit jeher müssen die Tour-Sieger die diskriminierende Metapher von der "rollenden Apotheke" mit sich herumtragen. Und das Publikum weiß genau so lange, daß das gesamte Peloton sich auf ähnliche Weise pharmazeutisch aufrüstet wie die Sieger - und das nicht erst seit Lance und Jan. Walsh schrieb einen Bestseller, der auf dem Prinzip "Verteufelung" (von Armstrong) beruht. My opinion: Armstrong did, what all the other cyclists did. Since a Century. And for that reason he is as honest as anyone was. The rest is hypocrisis.
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on 10 February 2014
I was given this book as a present and, despite not being a huge cycling enthusiast, was interested to read about the rise and fall of Mr Armstrong. The subject matter is without doubt interesting - drugs, corruption, bribery, lawsuits - all the makings of a very stimulating read. While this is all covered to some degree, as others have said it feels like this book was in need of some serious editing and could've (and should've) been a good hundred pages shorter.

You'd have thought it would have been a no-brainer to follow a chronological structure but, for whatever reason, Walsh chooses instead to leap around from anecdote to anecdote, without any clear focus. This has the effect of being quite disorientating for the reader and did mean at several times I struggled to maintain the motivation to keep reading.

On the one hand, huge credit should go to David and the others who helped to build the case against Lance. Their perserverance is quite remarkable. However there's something about the tone of this book which I really didn't like. It very much feels like David had a personal vendetta against Lance from the start - a complete refusal to offer even the smallest congratulations on his achievements based for many years on nothing other than a hunch. In the context of recent revelations this of course seems only right, but what happened to innocent until proven guilty? He talks about the Michelle Smith case and seems surprised that her husband/coach was irritated that on the night of her victory the only questions David wanted to ask were about doping? Sure, if you suspect everyone of cheating then every now and again you're going to be proved right, but what about the athletes who aren't on drugs? Surely they deserve to enjoy their moments of triumph without being surrounded by shaking heads?

This overwhelming cynicism of sport in general, combined with his personal vendetta against Lance does all get quite tiring after a while and, as others have said, in some cases does mean at points you end up feeling sorry for Armstrong! After all, despite drug abuse being apparently rife across cycling, no other rider receives anything close to the personal attack he launches on him. Sure, he was a bad person, but he's certainly not the only one. In Walsh's eyes pretty much every other rider is allowed absolution when the time comes for them to admit their guilt, but not Lance - all of his actions following his 'ousting' just draw more criticism. I'm not saying he should be forgiven - but a little more consistency in Walsh's view towards doping athletes would definitely have given the book a greater feeling of justice over personal attack.

In summary, amongst the unfocused narrative there are many interesting stories, and if you stick with it through to the end then you'll certainly come away with a very detailed (if biaised) perspective on the Armstrong case.
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