In the opening of Lance Armstrong's memoir, Every Second Counts (co-authored by Sally Jenkins), he reflects: "Generally, one of the hardest things in the world to do is something twice." While he is talking here about his preparation for what would prove to be his second consecutive Tour de France victory in 2000, the sentiment could equally be applied to the book itself. And just as Armstrong managed to repeat his incredible 1999 tour victory, Every Second Counts repeats--and, in some ways exceeds?the success of his bestselling first memoir, It's Not About the Bike.
Every Second Counts confronts the challenge of moving beyond his cancer experience, his first Tour victory, and his celebrity status. Few of Armstrong's readers will ever compete in the Tour de France (though cyclists will relish Armstrong's detailed recounting of his 2000-2003 tour victories), but all will relate to his discussions of loss and disappointment in his personal and professional life since 1999. They will relate to his battles with petty bureaucracies, like the French court system during the doping scandal that almost halted his career. And they will especially relate to constant struggles with work/life balance.
In the face of September 11--which arrives halfway through the narrative (just before the fifth anniversary of his diagnosis)--Armstrong draws from his experiences to show that suffering, fear, and death are the essential human condition. In so openly using his own life to illustrate how to face this reality, he proves that he truly is a hero--and not just because of the bike. In Every Second Counts he is to be admired as a human being, a man who sees every day as a challenge to live richly and well, no matter what hardships may come. --Patrick O'Kelley