A New York Times reporter who covered bicycle racing for years, Juliet Macur was the ideal writer to chart a rise and fall unparalleled in American sports history. The portrait of Lance Armstrong in Cycle of Lies is lucid and unsparing, with a novelistic complexity: He was an extraordinary athlete, willing to suffer for greatness almost beyond comprehension, but he was also angry, vain, greedy, and deeply dishonest. In his career he won seven consecutive Tour de France titles, at least in part thanks to abundant use of the banned drug EPO. Armstrong himself fervently denied doping, and when he conquered metastatic testicular cancer, Macur writes, “he had risen from his deathbed to a secular sainthood,” with a lucrative Nike line and a second career as the founder of the Livestrong Foundation. Eventually, of course, the truth came out and Armstrong was forced to admit that he had cheated. The empire quickly crumbled, and Macur ends her book with a memorable image: Armstrong, now broke and discredited, packing up and moving out of his Texas mansion.