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It's Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong 

Harvey Frommer's Sports Book Review

by Harvey Frommer

Harvey Frommer - Click to Enlarge          

IT'S NOT ABOUT THE BIKE - MY JOURNEY BACK TO LIFE by Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins (G.P.Putnam's Sons, 275 pages, $24.95) is one of the most remarkable books about sports and life that has come along in a long while.

This book will move you.

It begins with these words: "I want to die at a hundred years old with an American flag on my back and the star of Texas on my helmet, after screaming down an Alpine descent on a bicycle at seventy-five miles per hour. I want to cross one last finish line as my stud wife and ten children applaud, and then I want to lie down in a field of those famous French sunflowers and gracefully expire: the perfect contradiction to my once anticipated poignant early demise."

Lance Armstrong by his senior year in high school was already a professional triathlete and was training with the U.S. Olympic cycling developmental team. And as most sports fans know, Lance Armstrong was the number one cyclist in the world in 1996, when excruciating pain put him down.

It was determined that he had testicular cancer and that it had spread to his lungs and brain. There were doctors who predicted his chances of survival as being very slim.

By taking the most aggressive kind of chemotherapy and submitting to three major surgeries to get at tumors, Armstrong by 1997 was declared cancer-free. In 1999, the racer many called "The Golden Boy of American Cycling" astonished the world by winning the Tour de France and setting a new record for speed. What he did ranks among the greatest comebacks in the history of sports. But it was more than that.

As Armstrong writes: "Illness is universal - we've all been sick, no one is immune. Winning the Tour was a symbolic act, proof that you can not only survive cancer but thrive after it."

IT'S NOT ABOUT THE BIKE is movingly written, with inspirational accounts of coping, conquering and prevailing against all odds. There are insights here into the world of a top-flight cyclist, but more important than those are the insights into a man who was scarred physically and emotionally and came to view his cancer as a "special wake-up call".

The book is truly as its sub-title declares - about Lance Armstrong's journey back to life. In all, this is a remarkable memoir filled with the kind of macho voice one would expect from a lanky kid from Plano, Texas who was raised by a tough single parent. Lance's voice and thoughts come through loud and clear. This is the best biography of a cyclist I've ever read. It belongs in a special place on your bookshelf.

Bookends: THEY EARNED THEIR STRIPES (Sports Publishing, Inc, 176 pages, $29.95) is a loving and lavish look at the Detroit Tigers from the pages of the "Detroit News". For nearly a century, 1,300 players have worn the distinctive emblem of the Tigers. This book celebrates a lot of them and many of the franchise's marvelous moments through the decades.

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.
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Dr. Frommer is the Official Book Reviewer of Travel-Watch. 
*Autographed copies of Frommer books are available .
 

Other Frommer sports related articles can be found at:   

Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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