The Eclectic Bicycle

Duncan Jamieson
Ashland University, Ashland, OH, USA

Beginning with its 19th century appearance, the bicycle has been used to tour, to race, to commute.  It has been used to improve health and vitality, to escape either the everyday cares of the world or to leave a closed society for a free one.  At the same time the bicycle breaks down barriers it also divides people.  Collectively, the books in this review highlight the many varied roles the bicycle plays in Western society.  Included are books on the wheel’s history, long distance travel, touring, racing and how the bicycle plays an increasing role in social advocacy. These are the books:

    • The Mechanical Horse: How the Bicycle Reshaped American Life by Margaret Guroff
    • The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold: Adventures Riding the Iron Curtain by Tim Moore
    • The Race Against the Stasi: The Incredible Story of Dieter Wiedemann, The Iron Curtain and The Greatest Cycling Race on Earth by Herbie Sykes
    • Iron Mac: The Legend of Roughhouse Cyclist Reggie McNamara by Andrew M. Homan
    • The Telegraph Book of the Tour de France by Martin Smith (ed.)
    • Bike Lanes Are White Lanes: Bicycle Advocacy and Urban Planning by Melody L. Hoffman

Download a full-text version of the article here!

DUNCAN JAMIESON is a professor of history at Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio, U.S.A.  His areas of interest are how ideas have shaped the nation’s history and place in the world, which includes specifically sport and the sporting tradition.  He sees these two fields of study intersect in bicycling and its place in Western society.


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