Hailed as “the sports book of the year,” Land of Second Chances is the astonishing true story of four men determined to rebuild the hopes of a broken nation. Meet Adrien Niyonshuti, Tom Ritchey, Jonathan Boyer, and Paul Kagame. In a land desperate for heroes, they confront impossible odds as they struggle to put an upstart cycling team on the map—and find redemption in the eyes of the world.
Nearly two decades after the 1994 genocide that tore the country apart, the African nation of Rwanda remains haunted by its dark past. Yet modern Rwanda, a tiny, landlocked country dropped like a pebble on the equator, is a lush and beautiful land fertile with hope and searching for heroes who can help it forge a new identity.
“Hero” is a heavy burden to lay on the slim shoulders of Adrien Niyonshuti, who was only seven years old during the genocide. Yet Rwanda’s best young cyclist is obsessed with earning a slot to compete in the London Olympic Games. Supporting Adrien is his coach, Jonathan Boyer, the first American to race in the Tour de France and a controversial figure whose hopes for Rwanda mirror his own personal struggle. Tom Ritchey is an inventor of the mountain bike who comes to Rwanda with money and a vision but who bears the weight of a personal crisis that threatens to undo the good he brings to Africa. And there is Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda, a man piecing together an egalitarian future for his country but who is all too susceptible to the corruption of power.
Land of Second Chances is the incredible true story of struggle, hope, and the life-giving promise of redemption through the unifying power of sport.
“Lewis is a reporter of rare skill and he writes with wit and verve. Land of Second Chances is by turns horrifying, moving and unexpectedly funny. It’s also the sports book of the year by a backcountry mile.” — Esquire UK
“Land of Second Chances is a tale that quite brilliantly portrays the power of sport to effect change. Superb, a must-read.” — Huffington Post
“Tim Lewis’s fascinating story of Rwandan cycling isn’t a typical rags to riches, triumph against adversity tale. . . . This is also a story about the potential of African cycling and its undoubted capacity to change lives.” — The Guardian
“Not just a book about what has happened in the past, it’s a book about what is just around the corner for cycling. A fantastic read.” — Podium Café
6″ x 9″, 256 pp., $24.95, 9781937715205
Hardcover with jacket. Color photosection.
Prologue / A Long Ride
2 One Hundred Days
3 The Dot Connector
5 The Five
7 Black Magic
8 Boys on Tour
9 The Most Famous Rwandan
10 A Good Machine
11 Spare Parts
13 The Race
Lewis is a reporter of rare skill and he writes with wit and verve. Land of Second Chances is by turns horrifying, moving and unexpectedly funny. It’s also the sports book of the year by a backcountry mile.
The incredible story of road cycling in Rwanda, Land of Second Chances is a tale that quite brilliantly portrays the power of sport to effect change. Superb, a must-read.
This is a book about Rwanda. It’s a book about cycling. But it’s not, in the end, a book about Rwandan cycling…The book is good on culture shock…[and] also opens up the world of professional cycling.
Journalist Tim Lewis’s Land of Second Chances is not a story simply of personal dedication overcoming the odds…Team Rwanda’s story could have been edited into an uplifting tale of unlikely success, with Niyonshuti’s Olympic appearance as the rousing finale. Instead this is a more complicated, darker, account.
Well sourced, with encyclopedic references to those in the cycling world, Land of Second Chances is set on the cusp of an extraordinary moment in the sport, with Africa poised to start producing contenders. Lewis avoids falling into the trap of making this a Hollywood-friendly sportscomeback tale. It’s infinitely more interesting than that, with its many setbacks, personality clashes, and disappointments. Like Rwanda itself, it’s complex, and the story is not over yet.
Lewis places cycling at the heart of Rwanda’s changing fortunes by stitching together various stories and providing excellent, cogent synopses of the political and social history of the country…[An] intelligent, thoughtful social history…
The race is on to find Africa’s first black world-class cyclist. Land of Second Chances is an important chronicle of just some of the early stages of that race. It’s not just a book about what has happened in the past, it’s a book about what is just around the corner for cycling. A fantastic read.
This is not a book solely about cycling. It is a book that combines hope with tragedy and success with failure. But ultimately it’s a book that holds a mirror to our Western sporting ideals. Whether you find that reflection disturbing or otherwise depends greatly on the width of your perspective.