Tim Lewis is a former deputy editor of and current contributor to Esquire – he wrote our August issue’s cover story on Gareth Bale – as well as a former editor of the late, lamented Observer Sports Monthly.
If you like Esquire even a little bit, and/or still hold a torch for OSM, as we do, then you will love his new book, Land of Second Chances.
It’s subtitled “The Impossible Rise of Rwanda’s Cycling Team”, which tells you literally what it’s about, but actually the title itself is more instructive: it’s a book concerned with how people go about reassembling apparently shattered lives, specifically in these cases by getting on their bikes. The second chances referred to are being taken by a nation disfigured by the genocide of 1994, and also by a truly odd but ultimately rather inspirational collection of men, from within and without Rwanda, each damaged in his own way.
That makes the book sound heavy, but Lewis is a reporter of rare skill and he writes with wit and verve. As a result Land of Second Chances is less thigh-pumping uphill slog, more wind-in-the-hair downhill freewheel. It is by turns horrifying, moving and unexpectedly funny. It’s also the sports book of the year by a backcountry mile.
Land of Second Chances by Tim Lewis (Yellow Jersey Press, £16.99) is out 1 August. Pre-order it on amazon.co.uk.