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Fotheringham draws Hinault to fierce perfection: a workingman born to the bicycle seat, massively successful because he had...

Guardian cycling correspondent Fotheringham (Half Man, Half Bike: The Life of Eddy Merckx, Cycling's Greatest Champion, 2013, etc.) recalls the days when bicyclists were bold and doping was second nature. "Leave me in peace; everybody takes dope," said French hero Jacques Anquetil—except the subject of this book, Bernard Hinault (b. 1954), who won five Tour de France titles.

Hinault's brilliant career—he was arguably the best competitive cyclist ever—fell between two tumultuous moments in cycling history. Nevertheless, he was a one-man extreme-weather event unto himself. He began competing in the early 1970s, following the retirement of Anquetil and the semiretirement of Eddy Merckx, and he continued until the rise of Greg LeMond and a whole new technological age. As Fotheringham writes in this fleet, personality-drenched book, Hinault was a throwback to Breton cycling at its most elemental and ferocious. The author is also fascinating on the rise of cycling as a sport in the period after World War II. It was insular and a bit clandestine—much like the French Resistance—complete with heroes and weekly events that tested the mettle of all participants. Hinault was built of such stuff. He was notoriously prickly—he once said “he wished he had a jacket with tacks on it, to ward off back slappers who would hassle him after stages”—and he was brash, busting up the time-honored events simply by winning them, and screw the veterans’ scripts. He was brutish, he possessed extreme endurance, and he loved a challenge. In short, he was the Badger: strong, tenacious, and always spoiling for a fight. “I’m not a nice animal,” he reflected in retirement.

Fotheringham draws Hinault to fierce perfection: a workingman born to the bicycle seat, massively successful because he had the grit and no need for better living through chemistry.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61373-418-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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