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Earnest but not engaging
on 15 February 2012
Matt Rendell was an academic and it shows.
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.