- Hardcover: 480 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press; 1St Edition edition (October 11, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300104189
- ISBN-13: 978-0300104189
- Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 8.1 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 29 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #289,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bicycle: The History Hardcover – October 11, 2004
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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From Publishers Weekly
Each day, in cities from Bangkok to Baltimore, millions of people mount their bicycles, strap on a helmet and ride off to school, to work or just to get away, giving little thought to the hundreds of years of invention, evolution and development that afford them this simple pleasure. Herlihy has dedicated many years of research and study to uncovering this history, and the result is a comprehensive genealogy of the two-wheeled savior of mass transit. In the late 1700s, when transportation was ruled by the horse and buggy, inventors challenged one another to develop a human-powered vehicle to replace the inconvenience and expense of the horse-drawn carriage and make man, once and for all, self-sufficient. It took nearly 200 years for the four-wheeled, multi-person machines first thought to be the answer to this dilemma to evolve into the two-wheeled speedsters we know today. The authors vivid account of this story could not be more detailed if Herlihy himself had personally lived through every experience he recounts. Each chapter is filled with eye-catching illustrations and photographs spanning nearly two centuries, and colorful sidebars like "The Velocipede in the Service of Love" and "Women and the Velocipede" add character to the often technical, textbook-style prose. In uncovering interesting characters like 1860s racer James Moore, who predicted bicycles would soon be "as common in homes as umbrellas," and documenting hundreds of little known facts, Herlihy takes what could have been just another history book and makes it a story worth telling your friends about.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From The New Yorker
The bicycle began life, in the nineteenth century, as a diversion for rich Europeans. Physicians, theologians, anti-feminists, and journalists condemned it as a hazardous fad—"Man is a locomotive machine of Nature's own making, not to be improved by the addition of any cranks or wheels of mortal invention," wrote one opponent—and cyclists were sometimes set upon by mobs. By the century's end, however, with a safe, efficient model available to the commuter and the Sunday pleasure seeker, the bicycle created thousands of jobs, spurred road construction, and transformed fashion, while daredevil, brandy-swilling racing cyclists acquired heroic status. Herlihy portrays the men who pioneered this gravity-defying wonder; they worked in near-obscurity, lit by the Industrial Age's spirit of invention, the capitalist impulse, and the utopian hope that the bicycle would "take men away from the gambling rooms and rum shops, out into God's light and sunshine."
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
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Top customer reviews
I bought the book because I'm a student of innovation and because I like bicycling. The book gives a good description of the bicycles history but not expect any quantitative data. The book is not at all useful to understand the evolution of the bicycles during the last 50/60 years. All together still a four star book
Unfortunately, the two most critical reviews on Amazon make me wonder whether the reviewers actually read the book at all. Herlihy devotes a great deal of attention to "the bicycle's impact on women in the late nineteenth century," which one reviewer claimed "receives hardly any treatment at all." Herlihy points out that the "safety" bicycle sparked a boom in American and European sales in the 1890s primarily because it appealed to women, as the earlier high-wheeler had not, and that women's fashions, participation in cycling sports, bicycle touring, and relationships with men all began to change as a result. This same reviewer claimed that "the religious aspects of cycling during the heyday of 'muscular Christianity' (1880-1920) are completely neglected." Again, not true (see page 186). Finally, this reviewer claimed that "this book is also geographically biased, concentrating, rather predictably, on Europe and New England." Why "rather predictably"? Perhaps because nineteenth-century bicycles (to which Herlihy devotes three-fourths of his book) were produced almost entirely in Europe and New England! When Herlihy gets to the twentieth century, he deals with the other centers of bicycle popularity and production that emerged.
Another reviewer gave the book only one star, asserting (among other things) that "It is quite light on the many developments since the seventies, which have led to the bikes that we are riding today." But these developments are covered quite well in chapters on recreational cycling and competitive cycling, which deal with both technological and commercial developments. This same reviewer claimed that "rarely are ... illustrations satisfyingly integrated into the narrative." This statement is totally without basis. With the exception of a very few retrospective illustrations in the last chapter, every illustration in the book relates directly to the text on the same or adjoining pages.
My only criticism of this admirable book (which represents a decade of international research) is that it devotes three times as much space the first thirty-five years of the bicycle's history as it does to the next century. Partly, that is because Herlihy is trying to cover ground that has been neglected in earlier histories, and indeed he brings to light much that has lain hidden. But I would like to have learned more about the development of the cycling industry during the twentieth century. Why did none of the leading manufacturers in the 1960s and 1970s survive? Which are the leading bicycle makers today, and how did they become the leaders? How do bicycle sales today compare to those of the past?
Still, no single volume is ever likely to cover everything that every reader wants to know about cycling's history, and this one does it far better and more accessibly than any other to date.
"Bicycle" is an in-depth history of man's most ingenious and efficient human-powered machine, one failed attempt after another. The two-wheeled walking machines called Draisines/velocipedes/dandy horses stagnated for an astonishing 50 years before the revelation of adding pedals to front hub came about. Subsequently evolution and innovation was rapid. The illustrations bring the story to life and some of the predecessors to the modern bicycle had me laughing out loud.
Ultimately the book has deepened my already immense appreciation for the bicycle. It also makes me wonder about the future of the machine. Does the next major breakthrough lie right beneath our noses, such as the pedal solution did for 50 years in the bicycle's prehistory? Just how much better can the world's most efficient human-powered kinetic energy machine become?
Mr. Herlihy has written the definitive history of the incomparable invention we now know as the “bicycle”…
This archival-quality book is highly suitable for “gifting” to the bicycle lovers among us and it has my highest recommendation for that purpose. For the enthusiast I’d consider it indispensable.
*Extremely high quality paper and print.
*Copiously illustrated with many color and black & white plates.
*Direct but elegant prose.
*Comprehensive but well-selected information.
As a lover of fine books and fine bicycles, I’d allow that you can’t go wrong with this one!
Added bonus: The hardback’s jacket has an excellent photograph of a Duryea Sylph spring-frame safety bicycle – a true work of art!
Most recent customer reviews
1696 Jacques Ozanam’s (French) discussion of the...Read more
The book contains many beautiful photos and the author has done an excellent job of writing about cycling history.Read more