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Around The World On Two Wheels [Paperback]

Peter Zheutlin

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Book Description

Sept. 23 2008
Until 1894 there were no female sport stars, no product endorsement deals, and no young mothers with the chutzpah to circle the globe on a bicycle. Annie Kopchovsky changed all of that.

Annie was a Jewish immigrant and working mother of three living in a Boston tenement with her husband, a peddler. This was as close to the American dream as she was likely to get—until she became part of what one newspaper called "one of the most novel wagers ever made": a high-stakes bet between two wealthy merchants that a woman could not ride around the world on a bicycle, as Thomas Stevens had a few years before. Annie rose to the challenge, pledging to finish her fifteen-month trip with a staggering $5,000 earned by selling advertising space on her bike and her clothing, making personal appearances in stores and at bicycle races, and lecturing about her adventures along the way. When the Londonderry Lithia Springs Water Company of New Hampshire offered to become the first of her many sponsors, Annie Kopchovsky became Annie Londonderry, and a legend was born. So began one of the greatest escapades—and publicity stunts—of the Victorian Age.

In this marvelously written book, author Peter Zheutlin vividly recounts the story of the audacious woman who turned every Victorian notion of female propriety on its ear. When Annie left Boston in June 1894, she was a brash young lady with a 42-pound bicycle, a revolver, a change of underwear, and a dream of freedom. The epic journey that followed—from a frigid ride through France to an encounter with outlaw John Wesley Hardin in El Paso—took the connection between athletics and commercialism to dizzying new heights and turned Annie into a symbol of sexual equality.

A beguiling true story of a bold spirit who reinvented herself against all odds, Around the World on Two Wheels blends social history and high adventure into an unforgettable portrait of courage, imagination, and tenacity.
--This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

Frequently Bought Together

Around The World On Two Wheels + Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Citadel - Kensington; Reprint edition (Sept. 23 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806530669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806530666
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 13.8 x 20.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #365,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Booklist

The lives of women in the 1890s were constrained by social mores, family obligations, and restrictive clothing. Annie Kopchovsky, immigrant, wife, and mother of three, seems to have had no qualms about doing the opposite of what the times dictated. So liberated was Annie that she cooked up a scheme to circle the globe on a bicycle—even though she had barely been on a bike—to earn fame and money. She abandoned her husband and children and made up a traveling identity, calling herself Annie Londonderry. Her journey began in New York, where she worked for a bicycle company, but in Chicago she negotiated a new contract with a different bicycle company and started over. She did succeed in circling the globe with a fair share of hype and flimflammery, but did she fulfill the terms of the contract? Well researched and written by a great-nephew of Annie's, this reclaimed true story illuminates family life, journalism, advertising, and recreation of that transitional era. As for Annie, she was a remarkable woman and well worth getting to know. Hoover, Danise --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Peter Zheutlin is an avid cyclist and a freelance journalist whose work appears regularly in the Boston Globe and the Christian Science Monitor.

Barrett Whitener has won half a dozen coveted AudioFile Earphones Awards for his audiobook narration. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Around the World on Two Wheels Nov. 19 2008
By J. Dalquist - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I agree with the other reviewers that Annie Londonderry's story is one of a charming, brash, lying, self-promoting, scoundrel whose adventure meshed with, if not influenced, feminism, freedom of dress, and use of the bicycle by women. However, there is constant repetition of Annie as a charming, brash, lying, self-promoting --etc. etc. etc. (Get the picture?) Many times I said, "Enough already. I know that. Get on with the story." Relating an incident speaks for itself. There is no need to add after each that she was a charming, brash, etc. etc. Some of the information included in the epilogue, the afterword, and the appendix (is there a need for all three?)could have been included within the text, substituting for the redundancy, and explaining in greater depth Annie's personality and interaction with her family. The changing social customs of the period and the history of bicycling tied with Annie's antics would be a better read without the padding. I appreciated the bibliography and notes.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHAT A FUN, INTERESTING AND EDUCATIONAL BOOK. It has Insight, Fashion, Women's Liberation, 19th Century Social History, Sports, Nov. 3 2007
By LORNE SHIELDS - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
WHAT A FUN, INTERESTING AND EDUCATIONAL BOOK. It has Insight, Fashion, Women's Liberation, 19th Century Social History, Sports, Achievement, and so much more. The research Mr. Zheutlin did amazes me. On a personal note I research early cycling history and have done so for almost 40 years. His facts are accurate and he has found so much new material that it is hard to explain my amazement. If you are looking for a good read, interesting photographs, a different subject, amazing insight and a tour of the last part of the 19th Century, this is your book. You'll enjoy it!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Next Book Club Selection! Nov. 14 2007
By Janet Edwards - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This true story of Annie (Kopchovsky)Londonderry is an exhilarating and fascinating romp through history with a companion the reader can't help but admire for her gumption, cleverness, and determination.

Annie was the first woman to ride her bicycle around the world, possibly as part of a contest. It's just as likely, however, that she fabricated an excuse to travel because she felt claustrophobic, trapped within the societal constraints placed on women during the Victorian era. The author, Peter Zheutlin, writes Annie's story with tenderness (he's a descendent of Annie's, but I suspect he would do so regardless), yet also with appropriate skepticism and rich historical detail. (Read the endnotes!)

While following in the wake of her fierce independence and almost reckless energy, the reader also explores the impact Annie's journey had on the advancement of women's rights, as well as uncomfortable questions it posed about traditional roles - including her own role as wife and mother.

I'm recommending "Around the World on Two Wheels" for my book club selection next month. We'll have plenty of issues to discuss, and we'll get to do so in the company of one incredibly memorable character -- Annie Londonderry.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Story Jan. 31 2009
By Jared Austin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I agree with the other reviewers that the story of Annie Londonderry's bike trip is both interesting and noteworthy--regardless of how much of it was actually fictitious. Obviously, for a woman in the late 19th century to go on a 15 month adventure around the world, be it by train, boat, bike or foot, remains an amazing feat, and deserves respect for the stereotypes it broke, and the countless young women it undoubtedly inspired. My only criticism of the book was that it was written in a somewhat choppy format, and didn't seem to flow very smoothly. This was probably due to the choppy, inconsistent nature of Annie's trip, and the accounts that went into piecing the story together. One of the most interesting parts of the book came in the Afterword, when the author explains his personal connection to Annie, and the research and efforts he had to undertake to tell her story. I wish he could've found a way to weave his own story into hers throughout the book. Finally, as an individual who biked across America in the late 1990s, I found her tales of hospitality from complete strangers along the road, a nice reminder of all the wonderful people we met on our own trip. Indeed, though a century has passed, the kindness of strangers toward adventurous souls remains happily unchanged.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story, boring book Jan. 7 2009
By G. W. Stebbins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The background material is fascinating and in the hands of a novelist or more talented journalist, it might have made an entertaining book. As treated here, with a great deal of editing, it could have made a nice feature story. The approach is journalistic, a chronology of facts, mostly where Annie was when, what hotels she stayed in (by far thoroughly documented part of the account), who she had contact with, and a very few impressions of her recorded by contemporaries, and tedious repetitions of how plucky, brash, etc (maybe ten adjectives total) she must have been to have made the appearances and impressions she did and covered the ground she did. The best parts of the book, besides the bare facts themselves, were the author's account of his own relationship with her and his own story of discovery. At least it had some life and the people some dimension and reality. A fictionalized account might have given these qualities to the protagonist, but the journalist's preference for just the facts or perhaps a familial reverence which prohibited any liberties with them, leaves this a very flat and repetitious account with little life to it

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