Defying Gravity: Land Divers, Roller Coasters, Gravity Bums, and the Human Obsession with Falling

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W. W. Norton & Company, Mar 22, 2005 - Sports & Recreation - 342 pages
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Defying Gravity tells the astonishing story of how gravity pioneers transformed an ancient terror'he sensation of falling'nto the modern thrill that powers extreme sports, monstrous amusement rides, and a youth culture obsessed with "getting air." It's a hair-raising tour, with nineteenth-century parachutists plummeting to their deaths before thousands, British lords tumbling from Alpine peaks, Hollywood stuntmen dropping from biplanes to freight trains, drunken carousers outrunning police to make the world's first bungee jump, and X Games athletes such as stunt bike rider Mat Hoffman explaining their bone-breaking passion. Garrett Soden follows the evolutionary trail back to our acrobatic primate ancestors and delves deep into the psychology of sensation seekers. 12 illustrations. Originally published in hardcover under the title Falling.
 

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Contents

INTRODUCTION Birth of the Bungee Jump
1
The Gravity Century
19
Terrified Imagination
43
CHAPTERS Trouble in the Theaters of Gravity
69
Sirens of Height
97
Fall of the Noble Daredevil m
111
Rebels Cults and Primates
141
Young Gods Bronzed with Sunburn
167
The Arborealists
205
GotAir?
221
S CHAPTER 11 Falling for All
239
CHAPTER 12 Sensation Seekers
257
M
275
Acknowledgments
307
Select Bibliography
325
Copyright

CHAPTER Wall Rats
187

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About the author (2005)

Garrett Soden is the author of several books, including I Went to College for This? and Hook Spin Buzz. He lives in Pasadena, California.

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