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‘Cycle of Lies’ written by Juliet Macur is a well-made biography of athlete that was first admired, and then despised by the whole world - Lance Armstrong.

The author of the book is Juliet Macur who is a sports reporter for The New York Times covering last ten years various sports stories connected with doping and legal issues. Previously she wrote about some other controversial subjects such as ‘Countdown to Beijing’ that brought a story about China sports world that was pushed hard in order to host the 2008 Summer Olympics and ‘In Two Arenas’ that spoke about Iraq war’s effect on sportsmen.

With ‘Cycle of Lies’ Juliet Macur set for herself the ambitious goal to write a true and interesting story about an athlete whose fate in recent years repeatedly filled newspaper columns, equally for good, as for the bad reasons. And certainly she succeeded because her 500 pages work is something that can be read in one sitting and with full right it can be said that this is a great work of investigative journalism in sports world.

Her book is divided into seven chapters, each of them, in addition to the Prologue and Epilogue, named in a provocative way – Lies of the Family, Lies of the Sport, Lies of the Media, Lies of the Brotherhood, Lies of the American Hero and finally, The Truth.

Right at the beginning of the book author gives clear guidelines from which it can be seen that she knows a lot about Armstrong and people around him - …for nearly a decade, Lance Armstrong and I have had a contentious relationship. Seven years have passed since his agent, Bill Stapleton, first threatened to sue me. Back then, I was just one of the many reporters Armstrong had tried to manipulate, charm or bully. Filing lawsuits against writers who dared challenge his fairy-tale story was his quick-and-easy way of convincing people that writing critically about him wasn’t worth it. Over the years, he came to consider me an enemy, one of the many he and his handlers had to keep an eye on…”

Using such style, directness and the facts Juliet Macur wrote her book, not fearing at all to present to the world a host of lies, and some real truths. The nice add-on on the book end are picture section, notes and selected biography which further indicates the seriousness with which the author approached her writing project.

Whether you liked Armstrong in the period of his greatest popularity, and especially if you didn’t in a time when this sports hero had been taken as an example of everything positive and was almost blasphemy to speak against him, you'll enjoy Juliet Macur’s book.

Clear, understandable, concise, sports and investigative journalism in its true form…
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on 2 April 2014
When I saw this was coming out I thought `Does the world need another book about Lance Armstrong (LA) and do I need to read it?'. Initially I said no but when I saw it in my local library I thought I would give it a go. Having read it, I can now say that this is worthy addition to the catalogue of LA books, especially given that he granted interviews with the author after his uncovering. Whilst the main story of Armstrong's uncovering has been known for several years now, Macur is the first to bring it all together into one volume and so it does deserve the tag `The Definitive Story'.

Whereas Tyler Hamilton's book The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs is from inside LA's circle and is very dramatic in places and David Walsh's Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrongis his personal battle with LA, Macur tells the full story from Armstrong's childhood days to his interview on Oprah. Crucially, Macur also brings to the story the insight of former teammates who had not been mentioned very much in other articles and books such as David Zabriskie and Jonathan Vaughters of the Garmin team.

The first half of the book is slow paced as it deals with Armstrong growing up and the relationships he had with his mother and adoptive father. Even his cancer and supposed victories in 7 tours are only dealt with in brief as the author focuses more on the allegations which then grow apace when he retires. The suggestion of doping then becomes a snowball as another team- mate and disgraced Tour winner Floyd Landis accuses Armstrong of doping.

Armstrong returns from his retirement and Macur really paints this as Armstrong's hubris; he still believes that he can win, even in light of the growing evidence and his waning star. It's almost tragic when she asks him in 2010 "Why do you keep crashing?" as he struggles to find the composure to even stay on the bike.

One thing that we hadn't seen in 2013 was Armstrong's disintegration and Macur details interviews LA had with Travis Tygart of USADA and how he turned up dishevelled and argumentative, arguing that only he could save cycling. The most profound statement from LA was "I couldn't let them get away with it", a reference to those like Walsh, Landis, Tygart, Emma O'Reilly, and the Andreus who chased him down. He believed that as they sought to uncover him, that it was his duty to persist with the doping and continue to win because his victories, and his role as a cancer spokesman, were more important that their attempts to uncover his cheating. Macur asks the reader the question "Get away with what? Revealing the truth?". It's the final tragedy, and Macur certainly paints LA as a tragic figure that who still believes he didn't cheat and that he can go on to compete in triathalons.

One small issue that I had with the books was where she referred to the UCI by it's English translation of International Cycling Union and not it's French name Union Cycliste International. Most cycling fans would be happy with the French and I am sure the casual reader could have coped with the original French. Perhaps it was done to satisfy the American market?
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on 24 December 2014
As this took rather longer to come out than the excellent "Wheelmen" I had expected it to be of a high standard. However, in comparison I found it disappointing. It focuses much more on what to me was the frankly unexciting and more private "he said, she said" rumours surrounding Armstrong's family relationships. At times it also on one view comes across as less objective in weighing the "evidence" produced in that sphere of Armstrong's life.

The other slight grumble (probably more for the publisher, than the author) is that in the hardback form the book is unnecessarily big and cumbersome - hard work to carry around with you to read on public transport, etc. Why they couldn't have produced it with the convenience of their readers in mind, I don't know.
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on 2 April 2014
I was intrigued as to what Macur would write as it is of course the "American View". this is brilliant and to be fair a little more informative than Walsh's slightly ranting book.

I like the way that she doesn't completely rip Armstrong to shreds, there is a lot of humanity in the book.

Loads and loads of juicy details that I have not read anywhere else.

Fair Play Juliet and thank you for a great read.
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on 28 August 2016
Exhaustive and intelligent investigative journalism documenting the great rise and fall of the enigmatic athlete. Macur has comprehensively explored the unexpectedly complex web of doping within the US Postal Team's golden years and never once falters in revealing the brazen and brutalist arrogance of Lance Armstrong (possibly the most shocking element of the entire scandal). One must wonder how on Earth he ham-fistedly got away with defrauding the public and sponsors for so long through the mere primitive tactics of intimidation, slander threats, and the liberal tossing around of lawsuits at the nay-sayers - hardly sophisticated. A strong reinforcement of the message that, when something seems too good to be true - it almost certainly is.
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on 29 August 2014
Best book about all of this, an absolute MUST READ! Juliet is an excellent author, some very amusing 'one liners'! Couldn't put it down at all and am already waiting in line to read it again .. it really is that good! Great effort Juliet - worth the years of hardwork!
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on 26 May 2014
Having read all of David Walsh's output, I almost felt that I didn't need another Armstrong book in my life. However, after hearing the author interviewed on The competitors, I bought the book. This is a very engaging read which I devoured in just a few sittings. There are the ubiquitous Betsy Andreu contributions, but there are also contributions from many others whose voices I had not yet heard, who added some new insight to this already well told story. Rather than just another Armstrong book, this is a worthy read, even for those already well acquainted with the saga.
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on 7 April 2014
A very well written account but there is nothing in this book that hasn't already been published in other books. I was expecting maybe more information on why the man was so self destructive and so vindictive to others. If you haven't read any other books on the subject, then this one is a good recap.
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on 9 June 2015
A well, constructed, fair-minded book.It really opens up the whole can of worms and it is interesting that the main message that comes through is that the Tour is simply unwinnable at the presently expected levels of speed and endurance without 'help'. My only criticism is that it is slightly over detailed - the one incident is so like the next ten incidents that it becomes a little repetitive and boring - it could have done with a little judicious editing. Apart from that, well worth a read.
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on 30 June 2014
A real insight into the world of pro cyclists. A no holds barred account of what went on behind the scenes.
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