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Fallen Angel: The Passion of Fausto Coppi Hardcover – 4 Jun 2009

52 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Yellow Jersey (4 Jun. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224074474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224074476
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 2.7 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 459,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Fotheringham writes for the Guardian and Observer on cycling and rugby. He is the author of a biography of Tom Simpson, Put Me Back On My Bike, which was acclaimed by Vélo magazine as 'the best cycling biography ever written' and Roule Britannia: A History of Britons in the Tour de France.

Product Description


"A vivid rendering of the high price of fame in a dog-eat-dog world"
--Financial Times

'Trautmann's Journey isn't your average football biography - but Trautmann was no average goalkeeper. It's a remarkable story' --Four Four Two

`absorbing book... excellent' --Daily Telegraph The Daily Telegraph, reviewed by Simon Briggs

"a truly remarkable story, uncovered with immense skill by Catrine Clay" --The Daily Telegraph, reviewed by Miranda Seymour

`sober, detailed, well-told account' --Guardian

`utterly compelling'
--Independent on Sunday

Book Description

A remarkable biography of 'the most popular Italian sportsman of the twentieth century' by the acclaimed author of Put Me Back on My Bike

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Inside This Book

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By K. Blackwell on 30 Aug. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bill Fotherigham writes very well on cycling and I always look forward to his latest offering. For me this his best effort to date by some distance and also the best cycling biog I've read.

The reason for this is that, in this book, he avoids the usual formula of the racing and results and a potted history of the person. Insofar as the results are concerned, cycling is hamstrung by the palmares of Eddy Merckx, which is like like comparing the batting averages of Don Bradman against everyone else. There is no comparison: the gulf is too large. What he has done instead is weave a multi faceted story: the rags to riches story of the poor boy made good; the complex rivalry between himself and Gino Bartali; and of course his 'interesting' domestic life that polarised Italy. All this is interspersed against the historical, social and political upheaval of the war and after, and the social mores of Italy moving from the control of the church to a secular society. Ultimately, the story of the man is more interesting than the career.

Coppi and Bartali were two of Italy's greatest ever sports stars and the various photos that turn up in this book and elsewhere are iconic. They attained film star status with the media attention they attracted. And it makes me wonder what results they would have achieved but for the intervention of the War. Fotheringham also did a good thing in managing to get Raphael Geminiani onside as it's apparent he's good for a quote and very opinionated; and, quick to take umbrage like he did with Paul Howard's book on Jacques Anquetil.

I would recommend this book to any sports fan, not just to those interested in cycling because the sporting angle becomes subsumed in the life story, which makes it all the more worthy.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Neutral VINE VOICE on 14 Jun. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Not being a cyclist aficianado I had never heard of Fausto Coppi until I picked up this book. It is excellent, concentrating on the subject of the biography rather than the statistical and newspaper reports that often make up the facile ghost written stories about sportsmen. Coppi was from peasant stock, like another Tour of France winner, Miguel Indurain, combining strength and determination in a long standing rivalry with Gino Bartali. He started racing before - and continued during - the war when he broke the world hour record which lasted for almost a decade and a half.

In March 1943 Coppi joined the Italian army and was captured in North Africa by the British the following month. He was repatriated to Italy in 1945 and in July that year won the Circuit of the Aces in Milan. Cycling was the centre of huge media interest with Coppi and Bartali its main stars. From the late nineteenth century drug use was widespread in many sports and none more so than cycling. The situation was so widespread that in 1930 the Tour de France rule book reminded competitors that the organisers would not provide them with drugs. Coppi was open about the use of amphetamines, although none were ever found on him.

The rivalry with Bartali started at the beginning of Coppi's career. He joined Bartali's team in 1940 winning the Giro d'Italia by a massive margin over his team leader. Barteli was not amused. Bartali was a southerner, a traditionalist, a conservative with a leaning towards Church inspired Christian Democracy. It was said that Bartali relied on praying while cycling Coppi relied only on his body.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Christy2002 on 13 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
William Fotheringham is the author of a number of cycling books including "Put me back on my bike" which is a biography of Tom Simpson and "Roule Britania A History of Britons in the Tour de France" and "Fallen Angel" maintains the high standard that he has set himself. Fausto Coppi, was known as the Campionissimo - the champion of champions - a title richly deserved given his achievements including multiple wins in the Tour de France and the Giro. However, we should also remember that a significant proportion of his career was lost to the war years. Indeed, Eddy Merckx, the man who dominated cycling in the late 1960s and early 1970s, once commented that he didn't like to hear himself lauded as the greatest cyclist ever when he compared himself to Coppi. The book covers Coppi's rise to the top of his profession, his rivalry with the devoutly religious Gino Bartali, and the many race victories that make his Palmeres one of the best ever. However, it is the chapters covering his reaction to the death of his brother Serse and his relationship with the beautiful Giulia Occhini, the "White Lady", that make for the most fascinating reading. Its a biography of a sporting great and also the story of an amazing life. I recommend it highly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By ELISABETTA WATTS on 30 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
Great insight into a great sportsman who I guess, unless you are Italian and a cycling fanatic, you would know little about. A great natural talent whose untimely death could have so easily been avoided. Interesting to realise the profound differences between road racing today and just after WWII, support vehicle, what support vehicle; although stimulants were just a prevalent, so it's not just a modern day concern. Good read and recommended.
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