Richard Poplak

Braking Bad: Chasing Lance Armstrong and the Cancer of Corruption

Braking Bad: Chasing Lance Armstrong and the Cancer of Corruption

What does the personality cult surrounding disgraced pro cyclist Lance Armstrong say about the nature of corruption in sports, business and politics?

Blending family memoir and reportage from Europe’s elite racing circuit (including access to riders such as Carlos Sastre, Ryder Hesjedel and Floyd Landis), author and journalist Richard Poplak draws out the parallels between the elaborate, tightly-knit, and cult-like regime constructed around Armstrong and the sort of corruption he’s witnessed first-hand in Africa — which given long enough, anthropomorphizes into an actual creature, this thing that sucks the lifeblood out of whole countries, communities, and individuals.

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  • I would read Poplak if he wrote about watching paint dry. Dark, funny, self-deprecating and poetic, Poplak is a punk Graham Greene. —The Globe and Mail
  • A heroic feat of research, analysis, and on-the-ground reportage . . . At the very least, The Sheikh’s Batmobile should shatter the Western stereotype of the Muslim world as repressive and stagnant. —Quill and Quire
  • In the riotous, fearless, and very funny tradition of Hunter S. Thompson and Jon Ronson, Richard Poplak takes us through the looking glass and into an upside down, funhouse mirror pop culture universe where Homer Simpson drinks juice out of a beer can, batmobiles are custom-designed in a desert lair and Islamic children spontaneously recreate the video for Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello.’ In the process, Poplak gives us a mantra that unites the West and the East, the secular and the sacred: ‘Fuck you, Shrek, you big green motherfucker.' —Nathan Rabin, Head Writer, The A.V Club, author, The Big Rewind and My Year of Flops
  • It may seem unbelievable, not to say wrong, that a comic memoir can emerge from South Africa’s white-power days. But after a reading of Richard Poplak’s breezy and brilliant Ja, No, Man, you’re more inclined to ask: what better place? No yes man could be this funny, or this wise. —John Allemang, The Globe and Mail
  • A clever young Canadian-South African, Richard Poplak, has written one of the finest, funniest and most tragic memoirs I have read in years, called Ja, No, Man: Growing Up White in Apartheid-Era South Africa. It is a gem, all the pleasure and pain and ruthless observation concealed inside the gleaming jewel of the book. —Heather Mallick, Toronto Star
  • Poplak stitches together the insults and indignities - mundane, suburban, absurd, tragic - of apartheid in its horrible death throes with such skill, such honesty and above all, such drop-everything-and- laugh-out-loud humour that I found myself having to re-read whole passages just to see what they sounded like without my shrieks of laughter thrown in. Ja, No, Man is an absolute must-read for anyone who wants to know what it was like to be there and anyone who hopes we never go there there again - in other words, a must-read for everyone. —Alexandra Fuller, author of Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight
  • Poplak’s expertly-researched and beautifully-written The Sheikh's Batmobile is one of the most important documents of the post-9/11 world. —The National Post
  • Whether dissecting Indonesian punk bands or the eternal wisdom of Magnum, P.I., Poplak is everything you want in a cultural interpreter—funny, frank and utterly incapable of spewing mass market pabulum. Poplak gets beyond the cheap, superficial observations lesser writers bring to his subject, revealing himself as a genuine thinker who delivers original insight and laughs in every chapter. —Chuck Thompson, author of Smile When You’re Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer