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THE GREAT RACE by Gary Blackwood


The Amazing Round-the-World Auto Race of 1908

by Gary Blackwood

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: May 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8109-9489-8
Publisher: Abrams

The automobile had only been around for two decades and was seen as no more than “an ingenious toy” when, in 1908, the French paper Le Matin and the New York Times co-sponsored a New York-to-Paris auto race. There had been previous races, but never one like this, which spanned the entire globe, and Blackwood’s storytelling is in full gear, with the cars themselves the stars of the show. They had several gas tanks, got seven or eight miles per gallon, had up to 60 horsepower and achieved reckless speeds of 40 to 50 miles per hour. Readers will share drivers’ frustrations with snow, mud, robbers and constant mechanical problems. The volume ends with the observation that today the great race facing automakers is against time, to produce cars that use as little energy and cause as little pollution as possible. Lively writing, maps and abundant archival photographs enliven this volume, though too many pages of dense text are unrelieved by visuals. The solid bibliography, end notes and guide to websites will take interested readers further. (index) (Nonfiction. 10+)