The Death of Marco Pantani: A Biography Hardcover – 22 Jun 2006
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Superficially [Pantani] appears to be a familiar type of sporting self-destructor. Like George Best, Diego Maradona, Alex "Hurricane" Higgins, and so on, he was prodigiously gifted; like them, he couldn't handle success and its aftermath. But, if Rendell is right (and the evidence does seem conclusive) unlike them, he was a pharmaceutical creation almost from the beginning. He was "cycling's greatest cheat"...It is the pursuit of this revelation that makes the...book so readable. (Bryan Appleyard NEW STATESMAN (3.7.06))
an excellent book about the life and death of il Pirata, The Pirate, as Pantani was known. Rendell has interviewed dozens of those closest to Pantani to paint an intimate and sympathetic - if unsentimental - picture...this is also a work of meticulous investigative journalism that shatters whatever doubts anyone could still have about systematic doping in cycling. (Xan Rice OBSERVER SPORTS MONTHLY (2.7.06))
[a] sad, exhaustively detailed and beautiful book...This book, unflinching though it is, serves as a fitting, ambivalent tribute - to the man, and to the dark heart of the sport he loved. (Chris Maume INDEPENDENT (4.7.06))
Matt Rendell must have been a forensic detective in a previous life, because while his research for the chapters up to mdc is particularly impressive, his account of the years of desperation leading to Marco's eventual death is breathtaking...Matt Rendell is to be congratulated on the tenacity of his investigations and for producing such a readable and absorbing account. (www.washingmachinepost.net)
There are three passages in this brilliant but nightmarishly bleak book where, caught up in the excitement of Pantani in his pomp, Matt Rendell switches to the present tense to describe his greatest victories. The writing here is breathless, awe-struck, more evocative and incisive than TV pictures or newspaper reports could ever be. But Rendell, although a fan, is meticulous and painstaking and he investigates the Shakespearean tragedy of Pantani's life as if it were a crime scene. (Angus Batey THE TIMES (22.7.06))
Intimate biography of the charismatic Tour de France winner and the world that caused his downfallSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
Meticulously researched, beautifully written, detailed, moving and horrifying by turns, this book is both a grisly account of the disintegration of a personality, and the story of one of the greatest cycling talents ever. Marco Pantani, Il Pirata as he is known from the piratical headscarf he sometimes wore, was a doper, a cheater and an addict - and one of the most amazing cycling mountain-climbers of all time; a mass of contradictions who still provokes awe and deprecation in equal amounts. Matt Rendell brings out the many sides of this complex personality in his disturbing and sometimes cold-bloodedly factual account.
If anyone should dispute the figures Matt quotes, by the way, there's one small but telling piece of evidence of their authenticity: namely the writer's puzzlement at the .wdb suffix to the filenames of the doping records. Apparently this unfamiliar format made them very difficult to recover! However any old-skool PC user will recognise this as the suffix of an antiquated MS Works Database format, for the simple-minded cut-down database which was supplied with the (surprisingly useful IMO :) ) MS Works suite for pre Win '98 versions of Windows. That Matt was genuinely puzzled by this says volumes for his integrity if you think about it. You couldn't make it up!
But seriously: this is a biography of Il Pirata, from his earliest involvement in cycling to his ignominious death from cocaine overdose in Hotel Residence le Rose, Rimini, in 2004. But the book's title is The *Death* of Marco Pantani; not 'The Life'. If you read this book, you will understand why; Marco, as Matt says, 'had been dying a long time'. This book is immensely sad; it is also a must read for any cycling fan. Highest possible recommendation.
Flawed genius, fallen hero...pick your cliche for the little man with the big grudge - against life, cycling, his team, himself...just about everything. This book is very well written, extremely detailed, and while Matt Rendell writes in a detached, factual style, this does not make Pantani's sad and inevitable cocaine-fuelled demise any less harrowing. Rendell delivers the facts with authority and great attention to detail. This is not feel-good stuff and can be difficult but so was the Pirate's too short time on this planet.
Yes, the research is painstaking, and he cannot be faulted for effort, but the narrative reads more like a phD thesis - too detailed, too intense and too complex.
To be fair, the first half of the book zips along nicely, but like Pantani's career, the second half falls into an abyss of drug tests, cocaine and blood results. At times it feels more like an A-Level Biology text book.
This is not to say that biographies shouldn't be expertly researched. They should. But the skill of the biographer is use the information to create a compelling narrative that makes the pages turn. Rendell doesn't possess that particular gift.
Robert Moore (In Search of Robert Millar), William Fotheringham (Fallen Angel), David Walsh (Kelly) and Daniel Coyle (Lance Armstrong)earned their stripes in journalism and it shows in their writing. For great books that are meticulously researched with narratives that rips along like a peloton with a tailwind, I would recommend the aforementioned books.
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