Bicycle: The History

David V. Herlihy, Author Yale University Press $40 (480p) ISBN 978-0-300-10418-9
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 author's 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 1860's 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.
Reviewed on: 11/01/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
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