Bicycle by David V. Herlihy
The History

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During the nineteenth century, the bicycle evoked an exciting new world in which even a poor person could travel afar and at will. But was the “mechanical horse” truly destined to usher in a new era of road travel or would it remain merely a plaything for dandies and schoolboys? In Bicycle: The History (named by Outside magazine as the #1 book on bicycles), David Herlihy recounts the saga of this far-reaching invention and the passions it aroused. The pioneer racer James Moore insisted the bicycle would become “as common as umbrellas.” Mark Twain was more skeptical, enjoining his readers to “get a bicycle. You will not regret it—if you live.”

Because we live in an age of cross-country bicycle racing and high-tech mountain bikes, we may overlook the decades of development and ingenuity that transformed the basic concept of human-powered transportation into a marvel of engineering. This lively and engrossing history retraces the extraordinary story of the bicycle—a history of disputed patents, brilliant inventions, and missed opportunities. Herlihy shows us why the bicycle captured the public’s imagination and the myriad ways in which it reshaped our world.


About David V. Herlihy

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David V. Herlihy is a historian and freelance writer. He has been interested in bicycle technology since his days as a member of the Harvard Cycling Club, and for the past decade he has researched extensively the invention and early development of the bicycle. His work has been featured on National Public Radio and Voice of America and in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, and Historic Preservation. In 1999 Herlihy received the McNair History Award from the Wheelmen, the preeminent American association of antique bicycle collectors. He lives in Hull, Massachusetts.
Published January 1, 2004 by Yale University Press. 480 pages
Genres: History, Sports & Outdoors, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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The New York Times

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The machine caught on very quickly, and became, according to La Vie Parisienne, ''the amusement of golden youth and the dream of employees.'' The Paris correspondent of The New York Times described the bicycle, still called the velocipede, as being able to easily attain 12 miles per hour, achieve...

Jan 30 2005 | Read Full Review of Bicycle: The History

Publishers Weekly

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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 friend...

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London Review of Books

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Open Salon

Before Mao, before the Nationalists, before the Warlords, while China still had an Emperor (or at least a Dowager) in charge, the Americans Thomas Allen and William Sachtleben rode their bicycles together across the Gobi desert, reaching Peking in the fall of 1892.

Mar 05 2011 | Read Full Review of Bicycle: The History

Project MUSE

In accounting for the bicycling craze that accompanied first the velocipede and then the high-wheeler, David Herlihy focuses on cycling's clientele, and how the bicycle's ridership influenced its subsequent design.

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