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Two Planks and a Passion: The Dramatic History of Skiing [Hardcover]

Roland Huntford
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 29 2008
Roland Huntford's brilliant history begins 20,000 years ago in the last ice age on the icy tundra of an unformed earth. Man is a travelling animal, and on these icy slopes skiing began as a means of survival.
That it has developed into the leisure and sporting pursuit of choice by so much of the globe bears testament to its elemental appeal. In polar exploration, it has changed the course of history. Elsewhere, in war and peace, it has done so too.  The origins of skiing are bound up in with the emergence of modern man and the world we live in today.
 

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Review

'This is a deeply scholarly work ... Fortunately scholarly in this instance is not synonymous with dull ... Huntford manages to to bind a wealth of material together with a strong narrative thread.'
Simon Redfern, The Independent on Sunday


"The breadth of his scholarship, which includes an easy familiarity with Scandinavian texts, is extraordinary." Literary Review


"What elevates Huntford is his comprehensive approach ... accessible and enjoyable, even to the most armchair bound of 'schussers'." Paul Watkins, The Times


"Could the outcome of the Second World War have been decided by the humble ski? That's the bold but surprisingly convincing claim made by Roland Huntford in Two Planks and a Passion." Roger Cox, The Scotsman


Review in The Daily Telegraph.


"Huntford's book will be a perfect stocking present for piste fantasists like me", Max Hastings, Sunday Times


"This is a compelling acount, and definitive history, of an activity that has evolved over time into one of our most thriving leisure industries." Sunday Telegraph


"An engaging and insightful work" Sport Magazine


"The most in-depth study of skiing currently in the English language and it will no doubt remain the defining record for some time." The Guardian


Mention in The Daily Mail, 28 November 2008.


Mentioned in Skier and Snowboarder Magazine, 01 November 2008.


"In his early books, Huntford chronicled the race to the South Pole ("The Last Place on Earth") and wrote biographies of Ernest Shackleton and Fridtjof Nansen. "Two Planks" seems a natural progression for him ... Huntford deserves praise for bringing together a lot of rich material." New York Times Book Review.


'This will be skiing's definitive history for years to come...' Alex Wade, Times Literary Supplement


'[A] fine, erudite history of the sport', Hugh Thompson, The Independent


"Roland Huntford's book is an amazingly detailed history of skiing's Scandinavian origins." BBC History Magazine


Title mention in The Guardian.


Title mention in Skier & Snowboarder Magazine.


'Our choice - pick of the paperbacks ... Huntford tells the ski story straightforwardly and simply' - Sunday Times


'Huntford has also undertaken the monumental task of tracing and explaining the development of the sport of skiing outside Scandinavia, particularly in Alpine Europe. As such, he has provided us with a much richer and more complex picture than was previously available from Arnold Lunn's highly partial The Story of Skiing.'
(oxfordjournals.org)

'Huntford has also undertaken the monumental task of tracing and explaining the development of the sport of skiing outside Scandinavia, particularly in Alpine Europe. As such, he has provided us with a much richer and more complex picture than was previously available from Arnold Lunn’s highly partial The Story of Skiing.’
(Sanford Lakoff)

About the Author

Roland Huntford is the world's foremost authority on the polar expeditions and their protagonists. He is the author of the award-winning Two Planks and a Passion: the Dramatic History of Skiing and Scott and Amundsen: Last Place on Earth and he is the biographer of Shackleton and Nansen. He was the Scandinavian correspondent on The Observer for many years.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Trip through the Snow Feb. 4 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Two Planks and a Passion is Roland Huntford's fourth excursion into travel in snow and at high latitudes. The first three concerned explorers (Scott & Amundsen, Shackleton, and Nansen); this one concerns equipment -- specifically the ski and its long history. Two Planks is linked to its predecessor books not only by geography but by Huntford's talent for remarkably thorough research and by his ability to organize often difficult material into a readable narrative for those not expert in the area. Though history and politics are often woven into the narrative (As in the Russo-Finnish war of 1939-40), he never loses sight of the principal item in his history. Huntford is a polymath; he is also an expert skier and high-latitude traveler, but he wears both his learning and his expertise lightly, and my interest never flagged once in the book's entire 400+ pages. Whether you are a sports fan, a history buff, or a devotee of the literature of exploration, this book will enrich all that you know and will do that in a consistently entertaining way.
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3.0 out of 5 stars not what I expected July 13 2010
By Brian Maitland TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
You know I saw the fantastic cover and thought this would be cool to learn about Franz Klammer, Ingemar Stenmark, Rosie Mittermaier, Hermann Maier, Anne Marie Moser-Proell, etc. Sadly they are not in here.

This is a book basically about skiing and how it started, how the equipment evolved and there is only one chapter on post-WWII skiing. I'm sure it's fantastically researched but, honestly, it's like reading a book on the history of hockey and learning about the game up till the NHL starts. It's great if you're into that. I'm not so I felt the book just wasn't for me.

Now, if anyone knows of a book, profiling the greats of the World Cup ski circuits (Alpine, cross-country and ski jumping), please tell me.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential history Jan. 9 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you're serious about the early history of skiing, Huntford's book is essential reading. There are now a number of very good academic English-language studies of the history and culture of skiing in the modern era (beginning with the eighteenth century), but Huntford is the best scholarly work on the sport's prehistory -- that is, on over-snow travel by the preliterate peoples of Northern and Central Eurasia. Excellent, authoritative detail on the transfer of skills that led to the adoption of Scandinavian skiing in the Alps, on the relationship between wintersport and nineteenth century nationalism. Huntford is a polyglot and was able to do most of his research by reading sources in their original languages. The book is not flawless, but it's a gem and should serve as a starting point for any further research into the history of the sport in Europe. And it's fun to read. --Seth Masia, [...]
4.0 out of 5 stars My favorite ski history out of my whole shelf April 27 2013
By Northwoods - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have a whole bookshelf of ski books, mostly history. This one is my favorite and if you have a PASSION for skiing, this is the best one. I was stunned to see the tepid reviews of this book. Less dry than "From Skisport to Skiing" and certainly covering a much longer time period, with a world, rather than US, focus. My only quibble, as with many of these histories, is that more recent events are given short shrift. A decent amount of pictures adds to the better understanding of earlier times.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great coverage of the early history of skiing March 6 2013
By Jeremiah LaRocco - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Like others have mentioned, this book thoroughly covers the history of skiing up to WWII, and crams the last 70 years into a single chapter at the end. If you're looking for the "modern" history of skiing, then this isn't the book for you.

The portion of history that is covered is thorough and well researched with notes and a full bibliography. It's obvious the author spent a lot of time doing research to make sure the information is correct. I love learning as much as possible about skiing, and I really enjoyed this book.

As much as I enjoyed it, I only gave the book 4 stars because the writing style is a little boring, and that made it a slow read.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars veers way off course Aug. 24 2011
By Brian Maitland - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
You know I saw the fantastic cover and thought this would be cool to learn about Franz Klammer, Ingemar Stenmark, Rosie Mittermaier, Hermann Maier, Anne Marie Moser-Proell, etc. Sadly they are not in here.

This is a book basically about skiing and how it started, how the equipment evolved and there is only one chapter on post-WWII skiing. I'm sure it's fantastically researched but, honestly, it's like reading a book on the history of hockey and learning about the game up till the NHL starts. It's great if you're into that. I'm not so I felt the book just wasn't for me.

Now, if anyone knows of a book, profiling the greats of the World Cup ski circuits (Alpine, cross-country and ski jumping), please tell me.
3 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ski history Dec 25 2008
By Ernest Kuncl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book isn't what I expected. It is good for the prehistoric info about skiing but is too technical and over-worded for the rest of skiing history and doesn't come up into a modern enough time period. It misses some of the recent short, shaped ski developments and their impact on alpine racing and ski instruction.
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