Will appeal to cycling enthusiasts and readers who seek an honest explanation of the scandals sullying the sport.

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RACING THROUGH THE DARK

CRASH. BURN. COMING CLEAN. COMING BACK.

Engagingly straightforward recollections of a champion athlete who succumbed to the dark side of illegal performance enhancement.

Cyclist Millar was a contender for the British Olympic team when he was arrested in 2004 by French authorities as part of their investigation into the Cofidis racing team. Unlike many athletes, the author chose to cooperate and was forthright about his disgrace. While accepting responsibility for his actions, he notes a willful blindness throughout the cycling establishment—“Cofidis had fundamentally failed when it came to preventing doping”—and he tries to convey the enormous pressures faced by neophyte athletes. Millar rose quickly as a young amateur cyclist, and his passion is evident in the focus on the technical side of racing. He portrays competitive cycling as a macho, closed society under close scrutiny. However, he writes, cycling officials tolerated an insidious culture of performance boosting and "recovery" that started with obscure, quasi-legal measures. After a few physically tortuous years of high-stakes races, the use of illegal substances came to seem inevitable, though the guilt and stress destroyed the happiness he’d found in riding. After he came clean to a French judge and the British Cycling governing body, he was banned from competition for two years (and banned from the Olympics for life). His forthright tone makes his downfall seem relatable: “I had become completely removed from my sport…I wasn’t an athlete anymore.” He ultimately received an opportunity to redeem himself with a smaller team, Saunier Duval, making his comeback at 29 in the 2006 Tour de France, just as the event was roiled by yet another doping scandal. Such events support Millar’s core argument that only candor about the seamy aspects of high-stakes athletics might allow problems like doping to be addressed.

Will appeal to cycling enthusiasts and readers who seek an honest explanation of the scandals sullying the sport.

Pub Date: June 26, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-8268-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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