The Tour de France: A Cultural History

Front Cover
University of California Press, 2006 - History - 385 pages
3 Reviews
00 In this highly original history of the world's most famous bicycle race, Christopher S. Thompson, mining previously neglected sources and writing with infectious enthusiasm for his subject, tells the compelling story of the Tour de France from its creation in 1903 to the present. Weaving the words of racers, politicians, Tour organizers, and a host of other commentators together with a wide-ranging analysis of the culture surrounding the event--including posters, songs, novels, films, and media coverage--Thompson links the history of the Tour to key moments and themes in French history. He argues persuasively that this hugely popular sporting event has been instrumental in French attempts to grapple with the great challenges they have confronted during their tumultuous twentieth century--from World Wars, political divisions, and class conflict to economic modernization, women's emancipation, and threats to public health. Examining the enduring popularity of Tour racers, Thompson explores how their public images have changed over the past century. He concludes with a discussion of the longstanding practice of doping and considers the complex case of the seven-time champion Lance Armstrong. In this highly original history of the world's most famous bicycle race, Christopher S. Thompson, mining previously neglected sources and writing with infectious enthusiasm for his subject, tells the compelling story of the Tour de France from its creation in 1903 to the present. Weaving the words of racers, politicians, Tour organizers, and a host of other commentators together with a wide-ranging analysis of the culture surrounding the event--including posters, songs, novels, films, and media coverage--Thompson links the history of the Tour to key moments and themes in French history. He argues persuasively that this hugely popular sporting event has been instrumental in French attempts to grapple with the great challenges they have confronted during their tumultuous twentieth century--from World Wars, political divisions, and class conflict to economic modernization, women's emancipation, and threats to public health. Examining the enduring popularity of Tour racers, Thompson explores how their public images have changed over the past century. He concludes with a discussion of the longstanding practice of doping and considers the complex case of the seven-time champion Lance Armstrong.
  

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - BillMcGann - LibraryThing

In writing "The Tour de France: A Cultural History", Christopher Thompson has done that very rare thing: he has increased our net knowledge of the Tour de France. This is extraordinary given that the ... Read full review

Review: The Tour de France: A Cultural History

User Review  - Daniel - Goodreads

I learned a lot more about French culture during the period from 1903 to 2005 than I learned about the Tour de France from reading this book. Especially interesting is the way in which the various ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
Cycling Progressand Modernity
7
2 Itineraries Narratives and Identities
51
Gender and Heroism
95
Work Classand the Tour de France 19031939
141
Exploits Exploitation and the Politics of Athletic Excess 19031939
180
6 What Price Heroism? Work Sport and Drugsin Postwar France
215
Epilogue
256
Racers Occupations
267
Notes
269
Bibliography
345
Index
363
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Christopher S. Thompson is Associate Professor of History at Ball State University.

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