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58 Reviews
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Merckx biographies are like buses....
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...
Published on 26 April 2012 by M. McCann

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars still don't feel I "know" Mr Merckx
While providing a very detailed history of Eddie Merckx's (too detailed at times, too much second by second narrative of too many races) it didn't do nearly enough for me in terms of exploring the nature of the man. I want to know more about how he thinks and more about what his day to day life during his race years was really like. I'd also like to know what he is doing...
Published 22 months ago by Sydneysider


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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard To Follow And Loads Of Mistakes, 24 Mar 2013
By 
N. Lee "nickelarse" (Leeds UK) - See all my reviews
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I really enjoyed reading the race accounts, but generally found the whole book very hard to follow. For a start, there was far too much detail - at times ten people would be mentioned in one paragraph, then referred to later as "the young Frenchman" or "the old Belgian" or whatever. I found myself re-reading many bits in order to try and figure out what was going on. In some cases, after re-reading 10 times, I still couldn't figure out what was going on. It's hard to say whether this is due to inaccuracy or just because it is badly written: in the first race account, Merckx was in the lead with five others, attacked once, then there were three of them, then he attacked twice more, leaving them behind, yet still came third. Who was ahead of him? Another passage later in the book has Merckx on a solo breakaway in the mountains, leading the race, yet somehow overhauling other riders "like they were standing still". But he was in the lead, right? Scores of other parts of the book similarly didn't make any sense.

It would have been a great book, but should have been given a thorough proof-reading. It might indeed be accurate, but it certainly doesn't read that way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CANNIBALISATION!, 20 Dec 2013
I had an Eddy Merckx bike when I was a kid without a single idea of who he was. I preferred football or cricket. 35 or so years later I'm quite new to cycling (yet a total convert) but not new to reading. I've read a lot of books about my new found hobby and this is my favourite Merckx biog by a Belgian 1.6kms, easy. Chapeau!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 18 Dec 2013
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Absolutely first class in depth account of Mr Merckx, this guys achievements are just phenomenal and in the current climate of professional cycling it is highly unlikely they will ever be replicated, cyclists just don't do what Eddy did the sheer volume of racing is mind boggling an excellent read which i finished in two days, couldn't put it down, highly recommended, well done Mr Fotheringham.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good attempt at a very tough subject, 1 Dec 2012
Describing Eddy Merckx is easy - he won piles of cycle races - but explaining him proves beyond even a writer as good as Fotheringham. I ended up not minding even if it means that this biography is more of an account of his racing life than a volume full of deeper personal insights.

Did Merckx do anything other than hand out beatings to his contemporaries during the late 1960s and early 1970s? Probably not. But this book is still more than worth reading to see how it happened and who was on the sharp end of an enigmatic legend.

The book's limitation, perhaps, is that is says little that is new and ends up being a bit superficial at times. That could just be Merckx of course or was it rushed? The author has written far better books but this deserves its place on the racing shelf.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Merckx, 20 July 2012
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Book arrived in good shape and am very pleased with it. Pity that the photo captions are printed at the beginning of the book rather than under the photos themselves.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Only cycling book I couldn't finish, 31 Aug 2014
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I was looking forward to reading this book. I'd just finished Sean Kelly's, Hunger (which is very good; a very honest account), so was ready to get stuck into another cycling book. But I actually couldn't finish this. To be accurate, I chose not to. It was simply awful. It had no real flow; it didn't seem to invite me into an exciting story of a rider who was "half man, half bike", but rather just have third-hand accounts of interactions, rides, what one person said about another. I really thought this was the second worst sports book I've ever read (the worst being Alberto Salazar's, 14- Minutes).

Many have given this book a good review. I'd suggest that if you like cycling and have a respect for Merckx, then you avoid this book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half good, half dull, 3 July 2012
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A lot of regurgitated race reports with Eddie chasing down a Paolo, escaping from a Jose, then out-sprinting a Pierre to win the race. However, some intriguing stuff about his family, the collaborateur Gaston, life in a divided Belgium and Eddie's astonishing rise to fame and never-to-be-repeated success.
I would have liked some more nerdy detail on the bikes he rode, and more on drugs. It seems the author has skirted around doping like a vampire from a stake...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Merckx - what a great cyclist - what a great book, 25 May 2012
By 
Philip W. Newstead "Philip W. Newstead" (Letchworth, England) - See all my reviews
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Before I read this book I had always thought that Lance Armstrong or maybe Miguel Indurain were the greatest cyclists there had ever been but William Fotheringham's book, `Half Man, Half Bike' clearly demonstrates that Eddy Merckx was incomparable as an all round racer who could win at every type of cycling, not just the grand tours but also the classic one day races. This is a well written book by an author who not only knows his subject but also loves the sport of cycling. I enjoyed reading it so much that I have just begun, `Fallen Angel: The Passion of Fausto Cope' by the same author.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars lacking essential detail, 18 May 2012
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This is a good read but I found myself wondering what made Merckx so good. A section on Merckx's power on a bike would have been fascinating. Was it ever documented? Did he submit to scientific testing? What was his racing weight? What was his bike geometry? What did his bike weigh?
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book and a must read for any cycling fan, 7 July 2014
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Michael Walker (Lancashire, Engalnd) - See all my reviews
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I really enjoyed reading this book.

The book is well written and gives you an appreciation of why Merckx is called The Cannibal

It also provides a wonderful contrast to today's mega pro teams where nothing is left to chance.
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Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike by William Fotheringham
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