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Showing 1-10 of 13 reviews(4 star). See all 39 reviews
on 21 November 2008
I'm not particularly a cycling fan but perhaps the best thing about this book is that you don't need to be, to really enjoy it. I read `Bad Blood' as a Francophile who has lived in France and as somebody who wanted an accessible, geek-free insight into the recent disasters of the Tour de France. In contrast to earlier reviewers, I didn't find it `prattish' at all, just refreshingly honest. It doesn't offer any pat solutions, just the wisdom of experience and it's all the better for it. The journey aspect of the book - from wide-eyed, star-struck sports fan, meeting Lance Armstrong for the first time, to world-weary cynicism as he watches David Millar weep in the Tour's press room - really worked and took me with it. At times, it's almost cinematic, cutting from Lance Armstrong's front room in Texas to the mountains of France and it gains from being personal and subjective, rather than forensic and black and white. It's also about letting go of your dreams, knowing that you will be alienated as a result - as he says in the book, drug-taking in sport is too easily demonised, because even `good' people cheat. Rather than a dispassionate scientific analysis of laboratory procedures, it's almost a love story and he's not afraid to admit that. The argument, that doping is not a simplistic issue with simple answers, but something with real moral complexity, is expertly made. But the book is at its best when he talks about Lance Armstrong's megalomania, the consequences of Armstrong's control-freakery, and about his relationship with David Millar, a rider he clearly adores, but whose doping confession clouded their relationship. Yes, I felt sorry for him and for other fans who have felt the same sense of betrayal. Yes, he says he is bitter, but then, after working in such a corrupt world for that length of time, who wouldn't be?
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on 1 August 2008
Jeremy Whittle charts his personal metamorphosis from cycling innocent to complicit acceptance of doping, its eventual rejection and finally outright cycnicism of pro cycling. He writes stylishly of the last decade from the Festina Affair to Operacion Puerto. There may be little new on offer but he tops-and-tails the stories that have emerged from the peloton with some telling observation.

The name of Lance Armstrong threads through the text. From redneck to sharp suit, from friend to inaccessible icon, Lance became bigger than the Tour itself. Indeed, the Armstrong organisation hectored the media and anyone else who challenged the boss and his ethics. Corporatism eliminated the flair in cycling - the use of EPO purged the uncertainty in the sport, its greatest attraction.

Lance railed against those who disputed the drug culture in cycling or owned up to taking drugs. His retirement in 2005 exposed what was still going on beneath the surface.

In 1991 Greg Lemond was even better prepared for the Tour that in 1990 when he won, yet the gap between him and the dopers widened as the race went on. He recognised what was happening, EPO had arrived. He is now an outspoken, articulate critic of doping and what it has done to cycling.

Whittle realises cycling's inability to change itself, that the gilded words of its leaders mean nothing. Yet the fans still want to believe. In his soul, Whittle still wants to believe, but the circle is closed and the future looks bleak.
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on 9 December 2008
Although it's true that Whittle adds nothing new to the doping scandals or taint of cheating that cycling simply cannot shake off, this is still a very enjoyable read. Those with only a passing interest in the sport will learn a lot about the politics, tactics, personalities and relationships that characterise it. Those who find it compelling will no doubt identify with Whittle's own sense of betrayal and disbelief that his sport is truly rotten all the way to the core.

I don't agree with other comments that Whittle goes out of his way to link Armstrong to the cheats. What I got from it was the sense that here was a guy who was super-talented, had overcome the very worst odds and was popular with the non-cycling public - someone who could have made some kind of statement against doping - and didn't. That's the pity, the loss.

All in all, a hugely engaging read. But if you want the original (and still the best) dish on cycling's dirty secrets, you still can't do better than Paul Kimmage's "Rough Ride". That is simply the best book on the topic, by someone who actually rode in and finished a Tour.
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on 14 August 2009
A compelling read : the personal observations and experience of a journalist close to the professional road racing circus. A thoughtful and thought provoking book.
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on 19 January 2009
Good and Easy to read book,I fnished it in 3 sessions over 3 days, so it held my interest. As others have said its low on detail but given the subject and the fact that getting inside gritty details due to the Omerta isn't exactly easy.

No major revelations beyond what is in the public domain, however if you are interested in cycling and want to know the scale of the problems with doping in cycling then this gives you a good introduction.

I personally liked the style of writing and some good focus on D.Millar and Armstrong in particular. Brave writing in my view given the defensive capabilities of Armstrong. It shows the personalities behind the corporate persona's. Despite his past sins I thought Millar came across as an OK guy, who just got caught up in the tide.

I do doubt if Mr Whittle will be getting any Christmas cards from the Peleton anytime soon.
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on 17 July 2008
I agree with both of the earlier reviewers. This is a readable, well written and compelling book, as a memoir of Whittle's career as a cycling journalist it is entertaining and as a chronicle of his move from loyal fan to insider to dissapointed cynic it is even quite moving, and to be fair that is how it describes itself.

It is not revelatory though, it is not an 'expose' there is nothing new in the way of evidence, as the first reviewer says, go to Walsh and Kimmage for those but Whilttle never pretends that this is an expose. He gives credit where it due to Walsh to Kimmage to Simeoni, and records his own personal response to these events.
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on 26 February 2009
I thought this book was a good read and would be very interesting to anyone who has any interest in cycle racing but who has not read everything else going about drug use in the sport. Nothing in it came as a surprise to me unfortunately. I think it a bit unfair to castigate the writer for not revealing new names- does it say anywhere that he will? And how exactly would such a scoop be first published in a book (as opposed to newspaper, TV etc)- be reasonable.

Gripe: his view of the 1980s is much too rose-tinted. Ok, LeMond may well have been a clean rider. But the writer paints a picture of doping as being less prevalent in the 1980s which I think is rubbish. Perhaps this is done for dramatic effect to contrast the earlier times to the Great Evil of EPO that the book is focussed on. But remember the quote to Jeff Connor in 1988 by a team director that >90% of teams were not clean? So what's new...

The book left me feeling very annoyed indeed, thinking that perhaps Riis' attacks on Indurain would have failed without EPO. But that is hardly this writer's fault.
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There were many good things about this book; fantastic character portraits of the riders, all so vividly drawn. And it was certainly a gripping insider account, very subjective, explaining one Tour journalist's journey towards disenchantment. It won't give you definitive answers to the question of who takes drugs today, but it explains the issues involved quite clearly.

On the downside, the author jumped around a lot in time, which often led to complete confusion on my part. The narrative would have been much more enjoyable if it had been better organised - sometimes it even skipped back and forth from one paragraph to the next. It also is very much one man's point of view, which is clearly irritating to some reviewers here, though I rather enjoyed that bit of it.

But on balance, very interesting for a non-expert reader like myself, and to have captured the strong personalities of the cyclists is a great achievement.
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on 14 January 2013
I suppose the next best seller will be the Lance Armstrong Confession... "it is not about the Bike, it is about how to cheat and get away with it". So all the cyclist in Tour the France doped either to win or to make a living, a bit like out MP really.
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on 8 March 2014
I bought this book as I have an interest in the Tour de France, and having watched it over many years, I felt this would give me a greater insight. Would recommend it.
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