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We may think of bicycle racing as primarily a European sport, but in fact the United States has a proud history of bike racing. That history is told in the new edition of Peter Joffre Nye’s Hearts of Lions: The History of American Bicycle Racing (University of Nebraska Press). Our stateside bicycle authority Duncan Jamieson is thoroughly impressed with Nye’s voluminous tome, but with strong reservations regarding the place of women racers in his book.
Social psychologist, long-time bicycle rider and activist Lorenz Finison has studied the bicycle in and around Boston, Massachusetts. Duncan Jamieson reviews two volumes by Finison, Boston’s Cycling Craze, 1880-1900Boston’s Cycling Craze, 1880–1900: A story of race, sport and society and Boston's Twentieth-Century Bicycling Renaissance: Cultural Change on Two Wheels (both University of Massachusetts Press).
Cycling: A Sociology of Vélomobility (Routledge) is written by Peter Cox, a Professor of sociology at the University of Chester with a Ph.D. in philosophy. Cox digs deep into the multifarious aspects of cycling in order to form a sociological understanding of this global means of sustainable mobility. Our reviewer is historian and cycling expert Duncan Jamieson, who welcomes the book with enthusiasm.
The Silk Road keeps its fascination, from its inception in the 2nd century BCE up to present-day Chinese attempts to reinvigorate and extend it across the globe. For Kate Harris, it was a temptation to give in to, and in Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road (HarperCollins), she relates her arduous, yet most rewarding, cycle tour along the Silk Road. Duncan Jamieson includes it among the best cycle sport travel books written.
Duncan Jamieson looks at a forgotten chapter in the history of women’s sport, cycling. When, in the 1870s, the high wheel, or ordinary bicycle appeared, women were eager to take advantage of this new, alternative means of mobility, in spite of the rather ineffective clothing for women dictated by fashion and propriety. Races for women became popular, and more so with the arrival of the safety bicycle, with two equally sized wheels.
Robert J. Turpin’s First Taste of Freedom: A Cultural History of Bicycle Marketing in the United States (Syracuse University Press) would have benefited from a more distinct focus on the business of marketing and advertising, according to our reviewer Duncan Jamieson of Ashland University, who also wishes to see comparative studies on this subject with Europe.
The American poet Walt Whitman published a series of columns in the New York Atlas in 1858, imploring his fellow American men to live healthier lives. These columns appear in Walt Whitman’s Guide to Manly Health and Training (Ten Speed Press), which Duncan R. Jamieson has read, and enjoyed.
In Europe many cities are working hard to accommodate a growing number of bicyclists. The situation in the US is quite different. In Bike Battles: A history of sharing the American road (University of Washington Press), James Longhurst uncovers the role of the bike in American life, and its place on American roads. His efforts are much appreciated by our reviewer Duncan Jamieson.
The bicycle revolutionized everyday life in the second half of the 19th century. In his appreciative review of Jeremy Withers’ new book The War of the Wheels: H. G. Wells and the Bicycle (Syracuse University Press), Duncan Jamieson outlines the historical context in which H. G. Wells and many others were physically and geographically liberated by the two wheeled wonder.
In The Self-Propelled Voyager: How the Cycle Revolutionized Travel (Rowman & Littlefield), Duncan R. Jamieson chronicles the history of long distance cycling and the writings by long distance cyclists. Our reviewer is Bill Sund, and he discovers a new cycling universe in the bicycle travelers’ accounts of their trips. A gratifying read.