Plot or Premise
The book provides an overview of the first Tour de France after WWI.
What I Liked
I was skeptical when I first chose the book. It showed up as a recommendation in a feed, but was I really going to read about the Tour de France? I am NOT a giant sports fan in general, and certainly not of cycling, nor even of the TdF, although I’ve always been impressed by the idea of it. A gruelling multi-day race, different terrain, and extensive coverage are truly, ahem, impressive. But would I like a book about the first one after WWI? In a word, yes.
For the actual racing part, I loved the story. Bits and pieces were pulled from reports of the day, old interviews with various people involved, etc. A historian’s dream to take something that might have been somewhat dry at times for secondary sources and turn it into a fun read. I could feel the struggle when a tire went flat, or the weather intervened, or they were racing on crappy surfaces. I admired the commitment to even compete given the timeframe, as much about recreating the old life from before the war as about creating a new normal. I enjoyed the contrast of what some of the regions had experienced even a few months previously.
What I Didn’t Like
I was surprised there wasn’t a bit more information about the previous TdF. As I said, I’m not a cycling fanatic, don’t know the whole history, and there was very little concrete detail on what happened before the war. It seems like a strange omission to talk about “what’s new after the war” without saying what was “old before the war”. Heck, even which version of the race it was by year!
However, as much as I enjoyed seeing what happened in various regions during the war, the overviews of the regions were often way too long and disconnected from the story. They were decent summaries but they read like a history textbook. Not exactly riveting and the main reason I’m docking it a star.
The Bottom Line
Good enough for even a non-cycling fan to enjoy