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Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike [Kindle Edition]

William Fotheringham
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)

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Book Description

What makes a man the greatest of all time?

Eddy Merckx is to cycling what Muhammad Ali is to boxing or Pelé to football: quite simply, the best there has ever been. Merckx was a machine. It wasn't just the number of victories (445); it was his remorseless domination that created the legend. He didn't just beat his opponents, he crushed them.

But his triumphs only tell half a story that includes horrific injury, a doping controversy and tragedy. He was nicknamed 'The Cannibal' for his insatiable appetite for victory, but the moniker did scant justice to a man who was handsome, sensitive and surprisingly anxious. Britain's leading cycling writer, William Fotheringham, goes back to speak to those who were there at the time and those who knew Merckx best to find out what made Eddy Merckx so invincible.

Product Description


"Merckx - a natural champion who regularly rode himself and others into agony and glory - is a fine choice for a writer of Fotheringham's skill and cycling knowledge... A fascinating, often bleak portrait of remarkable athlete and an unnerving man." (Brian Schofield Sunday Times)

"A fine portrait of obsession" (Financial Times)

"Remarkable and impressive … everything you want to know about Merckx and more." (Richard Abraham Cycling Weekly)

"The Cantona or Muhammad Ali of cycling, this Belgian’s story is amazing – and it’s told by one of the greatest cycling reporters around... Top Notch" (Loaded)

"The full unvarnished of one man’s heaven, and hell, on wheels." (i, Independent)

Book Description

The Sunday Times Number One bestselling biography of Eddy Merckx, the greatest cyclist of all time, by William Fotheringham, Britain's top cycling writer.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2267 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1613747268
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (22 Mar. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224074482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224074483
  • ASIN: B00778MI0S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #15,870 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Merckx biographies are like buses.... 26 April 2012
I finished Friebe's The Cannibal immediately prior to reading Fotheringham so naturally my instinct is to compare the 2- generally both books come to more or less the same conclusions regards Merckx, what drove him etc. Fotheringham does have the advantage of actually having interviewed Merckx himself although this turns out to have been in 1997.
As a summary of Merckx's career, this is well structured and draws on a wide range of interviews from those who worked with or against The Cannibal. There is plenty here to amaze and educate those not lucky enough to see the man when he qctually competed and it shows why it is not simple hyperbole to describe Merckx as the greatest cyclist ever. To be honest if I had to choose between Friebe and Fotheringham I would find it difficult-they complement each other well in that they go into different levels of detail on different epsiodes so something Fotheringham mentions in passing is dealt with more expensively by Friebe and vice versa. So neither is fully definitive on its own but still stand as useful and illuminating
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars IT'S ALL ABOUT MAN & BIKE! 30 April 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Cycling fans enjoy; as I enjoyed reading this extreremely detailed account, but then I'm a cycling roadracing fanatic and the 'cannibal' has long been one of my heroes. William Fotheringham is clearly a Merckx worshiper also - His rendition of the life of a truly great sportsman who appears to have beaten everyone and won everything is clinical, precise and accurate. He describes the cycling achievements of the man no one could beat and his domination of his era with knowledge and enthusiasm. If the story has a fault it might rest with Merckx's constant winning ability and his total dominance of the peleton; so much so that everyone else appeared, at times, to just give up and let the 'master' ride to the inevitable victory. Of course things went wrong for Eddie in later years, when he finally lost some of his edge - but that's all in the story and that's life!

Read it if you love cyle racing and the 'BIG' TOURS ..........
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book but important omission 17 May 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Another great cycling book from Fotheringham. He seems to have a real knack for bringing cyclists from the past to life and putting some of the excitment of the cares from years back into his texts. I found it a real page turner and read it in less than a week. I really needed to find out the next stage of the story, how the race was won, etc. It certainly made me seek out some of the film and video footage from the races covered. I found the text from Fotheringham much more exciting than any of the film though, which whilst says something about 1970s cycle filming techniques its more a reflection on the writing abilities of the author.

There is one problem with this book that, how big a problem I'm not really sure and unless one reads French or Flemish, then its unlikely to be possible to tell. The problem is that the book doesn't really have much in the way of interviews with Merckx himself. Sure there are some quotes, stories and such from old interviews between him and the author and of course there is lots of historical sources and interviews with contempories but there did seem to be a noticeable omission of direct interviews with the main man himself. Not sure why that might be, I can only infer that he actively did not want to be involved, which is a shame, as I am sure it would have added something.

Its still an excellent book though and considering the lack of alternative English language books on Merckx, then its required reading. Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So THIS is Eddie Merckx 25 July 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Eddy Merckx. For people like me, whose knowledge or interest in road racing commences after the 70s, that name was something of a faceless, ubiquitous imprint all over the record books. Go to Wikipedia and look up the winners of Grand Tours and classics between 1968 and 1976; you will see 'Eddy Merckx' everywhere. Having got long accustomed to seeing and hearing the name without much actual appreciation of the owner, I thought it was time to find out more about the legendary cyclist.

William Fotheringham has put this biography together in a brilliant fashion. He gives some wonderful passage to Merckx's rise, and focusses on many rivals and team-mates/domestiques who were present during the great man's career. Fotheringham also does a brilliant job of putting Merckx's achievements into true perspective - particularly his one-hour record, and the fact that unlike today, there was no dedication to a single tour - Merckx, `The Cannibal', rode to win anywhere he could. When someone truly dominates their sport, such as Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan and Eddie Merckx, their resulting achievements can sometimes lose a bit of impact purely because there are so many statistics and high numbers to take in. Happily, the author manages to give weight and appropriate significance to many of Merckx's victories, and builds a picture of an unstoppable athlete, well ahead of his peers both physically and mentally during his dominant years - at a time when those self-same peers were often legends in their own right.

Now because I have no memories or recollections of Merckx during his career (because I wasn't around at the time), this book is the only personal insight into the man and his records that I have encountered - I therefore read this biography without prejudice.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
If you like cycling a good read.
Published 3 months ago by hitch
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth buying
Good read of a special guy
Published 4 months ago by papa d
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Superb biography of the greatest cyclist ever.
Published 4 months ago by André de Sá
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read but hard to follow if have little knowledge.
Such a prolific winner it was hard to keep up.
A little hard to follow if you don't know the background of this era.
Published 4 months ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars I knew he'd been good but the comparison with modern competition
I'd held off on reading this for a long time as the Merckx era in cycling had passed me by. It's utterly fascinating though; I knew he'd been good but the comparison with modern... Read more
Published 5 months ago by John MCCABE
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bought as gift
Published 5 months ago by Meg
5.0 out of 5 stars Merckx for modern readers
William Fotheringham writes about Merckx from a modern Anglo-Saxon perspective, meaning that his references and comparisons will be particularly appealing to the British readers,... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars who reported it was a good
bought for a Christmas present for the husband, who reported it was a good read
Published 6 months ago by Lily
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Usual Fotheringham writing. Easy to read and well researched.
Published 6 months ago by Mr. Colin Simpson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
We all know his name, read this to know about his life.
Published 6 months ago by Mr M
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