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.
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!
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!
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.
“Awesome”, “Outstanding” and “Exhilarating!” it yells from the cover, I have to say I was beginning to think I was reading the wrong book. I am not a cycling enthusiast and have only ever read one cycling related book, by a certain drug cheating, cancer survivor with quite an ego. This book had a peculiar, non-linear style that often took you a while to understand what he was talking about or who he was talking with. If you are not familiar with cycling tactics, terminology and the state of the sport during the featured era then you may struggle.
The writer makes some compelling revelations, like how even back in the 70s drug abuse was rampant in cycling, for example 52% of the 1977 Tour De France starting line up tested positive for banned substances during their career and Merckx was also caught more than once. This book suffers from lack of personal insight and input from Merckx himself. I thought his style was clunky and messy and certainly not effective at making an unknown subject any clearer for the layman.
This isn’t a bad book, it’s clearly been thoroughly researched and benefits from some relevant interviews, all the so called drama and excitement has definitely passed me by, maybe a better grounding in the sporting politics etc would have given me that? This book certainly didn’t spike my interest in the field and it actually read as if it had been translated from another language as it just doesn’t seem to flow very well.
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.