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4.2 out of 5 stars
Eddy Merckx: The Cannibal
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2012
As a good summary of the life of the man voted in a number of polls as one of the best sportspeople ever, this is quite good. All the highs and lows are there, and there is an analysis of what drove The Cannibal, and what made him different to those who have gone before and come after him. While Armstrong may be held high in the eyes of many, it must be remember Merckx was succesful in Classics as well as the Grand Tours, whereas Lance just concentrated on the Tour.
Friebe allows for competing analysis from a range of sources, those who competed against Merckx, those who rode with him and those who reported on his career. Of course it helps to know the background to each of Merckx's interactions with those who have been interviewed- obviously some come with more an an agenda and desire to protect their legacies than others, and the author does well to reflect these, without negatively impacting on the validity of their input.

One voice that is missing is Merckx himself who did not want to collaborate with the book (apart from a brief conversation detailed in the epilogue).Friebe insists this is actually more beneficial, but there is still a void there that is not filled. While a certain amount of revisionism is to be expected, I do feel that Merckx's absence is most clearly felt as Friebe attempts to deal with the controversies that surround Eddy. This is no hiagoraphy but it would be good to see what how these events are now viewed by the man himself with hindsight-to get this however the reader would need to seek out the other works Merckx did collaborate on.

This is generally well put together, although on a small number of occasions I had to re-read sentences a couple of times to get their meaning-some were open to ambiguity which should have been addressed at the editing stage. Overall though I recommend this as a good summary of Merckx's life though I am looking forward to checking out William Fotherington's Half Man, Half Bike, to see how he deals with Merckx.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2013
Having read 'Part man part bike' I thought I would give this one a go...
Lets just say that the author seems to have allowed his enthusiasm for the subject get the better of him. I regularly found myself losing the thread and having to go back and work out what the author was trying to say. This is why I have knocked off a star but is this such a big problem?
The stories are great and go a long way to explaining why Merckx was such a dominant force and what made him so special. I think that anyone who already knows a bit about him and wants to know more will enjoy this book. He is still a bit of an enigma but this book goes some way to explaining the enigma... a must read....
It is worth the effort to read; Daniel's evident enthusiasm makes this book good!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 December 2012
As a relatively recent convert to the sport of road cycling I knew very little about Eddy Merckx. His name was always uttered in admiring tones and this biography seemed like the perfect way to get to know him. Friebe's style of writing I particularly enjoyed. It is highly accessible, very detailed extremely descriptive and emotive. These facets allow 'The Cannibal' to provide fantastic incites into the life of the great man. Although structured chronologically to some extent it doesn't feel like a browse through the archives, remaining fast paced and enjoyable throughout. What I particularly enjoyed about Friebe's take on Merckx was his objectivity and the conclusion that he came to. All in all a great read!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 2012
I'm not even that interested in cycling and only knew a tiny amount about Mercyx....a friend recommended it. This is a brilliant, fascinating insight to a true legend. A great, great book which I struggled to put down. Very very well written.
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on 10 April 2015
This struck me as a book written by a cycling enthusiast rather than a bona fide writer. He seemed so concerned with not giving a straightforward linear account of events that he made his prose too complicated and didn't have the talent to preserve its readability. I constantly had to reread passages to work out what the author meant. His sentence construction was often clumsy and made it a real effort to read. A number of other reviewers here mention that they experienced the same difficulties understanding the author's convoluted sentences.

Nevertheless, if you can get through it, it offers a comprehensive account of Merckx's career.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 April 2013
Excellant read, really enjoyed it and could not put it down. Gives such a brilliant in depth view, on what was the golden age of Belgium, Italian and world cycling. woud recommend to anyone!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 November 2012
this is the second biography of Merckx i have read this year and i can recommend this book and William Fotheringhams "Half Man Half Bike" to any cycling fans .
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on 3 September 2012
I'm not the world's fastest reader so for me to finish a book over a weekend means it must have been pretty engrossing. It appears to have been well researched (although I wouldn't know any better), and it is definitely well written in my opinion. It's not a book to glorify his career, instead at it's core is the contrast between his destructive abilities on a bike and the lurking self-doubt that drove him on. It was fascinating to read about him and to learn more about the merckx era of cycling.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 December 2012
one of the best cycling books i have read. Far better biography than william fotheringham's account which isn't bad in itself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 January 2013
Brilliant read for an avid cycling fan so given as a christmas present to another cycling fan who equally enjoyed it
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