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Blazing Saddles: The Cruel & Unusual History of the Tour de France Hardcover – June 1, 2008

3.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

  • "A concise and thrilling year-by-year history of the Tour de France. Blazing Saddles is great for road race buffs, but it's also perfect for anyone with even a passing interest in the Tour." --Out There Monthly

    -- Out There Monthly, June, 2008

  • "This book earned Podium Cafe's first ever five-star rating! Blazing Saddles takes a brief look at each edition of the Tour and tries to ferret out a story or two that adds color to the sport. Call it 92 stories about the Tour de France, if you will. The book's essential value lies in bringing many of these lost stories back to life. Rendell carefully picks out those stories which lend both color and insight into the world's greatest race and the utterly abnormal people destined to ride it." --PodiumCafe.com -- PodiumCafe.com, June, 2008
  • About the Author

    Rendell survived Hodgkin's Disease and lecturing at British and Latvian universities before entering TV and print journalism.
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    Product Details

    • Hardcover: 303 pages
    • Publisher: Velo Press (June 1, 2008)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1934030252
    • ISBN-13: 978-1934030257
    • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 8 inches
    • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
    • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #908,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    By Leslie Reissner on September 6, 2008
    Format: Hardcover
    "Hell, there are no rules here. We are trying to accomplish something."
    Thomas Alva Edison

    Leafing through the entertaining pages of "Blazing Saddles: The Cruel and Unusual History of the Tour de France" one is struck by the tone of the book, released just in time for this year's Tour. Instead of the usual paeans of praise to the great athletes of cycling history, author Matt Rendell has instead emphasized that the glorious Tour de France, one of the world's great sporting events, is "[a] fine spectacle of life-threatening exertion, bare-faced cheating, roadside sabotage, ludicrous clothing, extreme intimate discomfort and grown men at the absolute end of their tethers..."

    At the pinnacle of the gang of eccentrics who populate this volume must stand the founder of the Tour, Henri Desgrange. Clearly a man who loved to give orders, M. Desgrange had a vision of the Tour as the ultimate test of strength and courage and dogged manliness. He once said that the ideal Tour winner would be the sole survivor. To realize this goal, the early Tours were insanely difficult. With staggering stage lengths over terrible roads and often started in the middle of the night, the Tour de France attracted some Very Tough Competitors, men not mollycoddled by technology. Desgrange objected to freewheels ("Are our races seriously threatened with decadence by the freewheel? Will the Tour de France be undermined by this infernal invention?") and although eventually relenting on that he did prevent racers from using variable gearing until 1937, some 15 years after cycletourists began happily shifting their way up the mountains to greet their heroes en route.

    Desgrange, as the inventor of the first great national tour (and still the greatest) had to find his way as he went.
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    Format: Hardcover
    The Tour De France is the most prestigious race in cycling, but it didn't become that way overnight. "Blazing Saddles: The Cruel and Unusual History of the Tour De France" chronicles the races one hundred and five year history, full of memory quotes and events throughout the history of the race. With each year covered with statistics covering the length of the course, the top three finishers and their times, it lends a bit of history to each of the races. For any fan of the race, "Blazing Saddles" is a 'must have' reference that is as entertaining as it is informative.
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    Format: Hardcover
    The cover suggests a book exploring some of the more outrageous aspects of the tour in a fun tone. The actual book has a very dry tone to it and covers the history of the tour de france in broad strokes. I would've liked more details and more joy to the writing. Not a bad book on the history of the tour de france but doesn't live up to what the cover promises.
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    Format: Hardcover
    After looking at the other reviews, I have to say that I pretty much agree with most of them. The writng is good, but not great; The stories are intersting but many of them are not new if you're already a big fan of the Tour, and the telling of the tales of the latter years does tend to be kind of dry.

    Still, if you are a casual fan of the race, this book could be quite helpful in catching you up with the rest of us on some of the stranger, wierder, and more unusual things that have happened over the course of the race's long, colorful history. Also there are some interesting quotes, and the stats at the end of the book are fairly informative.
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    Format: Hardcover
    When I picked up this book, I was hoping for a nice collection of anecdotes and history about the TdF. Instead, I sat through a recitation of statistics, with a writing style either as dry as a textbook, or so littered with misplaced analogies, bad metaphors and flowery writing that it would make a romance novelist blush. Though there are some interesting anecdotes taken from other histories about the very early years of the tour, nearly every year after WWII is completely bereft of anything beyond who won, and on what stage they took the yellow jersey. Much of the book feels like it was dumbed down for non-cyclists, but really, who besides cyclists are going to read this book?
    Perhaps most frustrating is the inclusion of doping scandals in the book. From the very beginning the author makes it clear that doping has always been a part of the tour, ever since the first year. Yet somehow, the introduction of EPO into the peleton suddenly changes the entire history of cycling. The recaps of the last 10 tours focus almost entirely on the doping scandals of the year. We heard enough about that while the race was being run. The author needs to either accept that doping has been a part of the tour for its entire history, and ignore it for the sake of the book, or change the name of the book to Doping saddles, and forget about trying to praise the tour for it's sordid history. This book just didn't have room for both.
    On the plus side, the 2-3 page recaps of each year make the book perfect for bathroom reading, and if you read carefully, there are a few moments of entertaining stories and interesting facts, hiding among the dribble.
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    By RW on August 30, 2008
    Format: Hardcover
    Highly recommend for Tour de France and cycling buffs! Now i know much more of the details of how the race began and how it evolved and the some what odd history of the greatest cycling race!
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