Every Second Counts

Lance Armstrong

Read March 2004

Armstrong's second book is too similar to his first to be gripping. His previous book got his story out, and it was as unusual a sporting autobiography (such as these things are) as I've read. He was opinionated and raw, but these attributes were in refreshing. This one is no more organized or coherent, but the second time around the format lacks power. For instance, Armstrong tries to recreate the buzz that was the opening page of the first book with another downhill tale, but it simply doesn't have the same thrill.

The fan of cycling will find some nuggets here, including a more complete and credible account of his encounter with Marco Pantani atop Mont Ventoux. (This is all the more poignant with Il Pirata's early demise.) Those who care about his personal life will learn a little about the break-up of his marriage, though none of this will be especially surprising given the person we learnt about in his first book. It's hard, too, to not sympathize with the ridiculous doping tests he must endure, and Armstrong rather successfully demonizes the couple who administer his random tests in Austin.

The book's lack of editorial attention may be excused when it comes to letting loose Armstrong's meandering style, but why do some Tours get such a high-level overview while others merit such detailed analysis? This book also lacks the emotional highs the first one did, such as the account of his ride with Chris Carmichael in Boone, NC during his recovery. Finally, it's difficult to tell exactly why this came out when it did, other than the obvious commercial angle of cashing in on Armstrong's fifth Tour victory. The story here lacks a clear beginning or end.

All things considered, get the first book instead if you're going to read any.

(Thanks to Bob Kinicki for loaning this.)