The Beast, the Emperor and the Milkman : A Bone-shaking Tour through Cycling's Flemish Heartlands
Every nation shapes sport to test the character traits it most admires.
In The Beast, the Emperor and the Milkman, committed Belgophile and road cycling obsessive Harry Pearson takes you on a journey across Flanders, through the lumpy horizontal rain, up the elbow juddering cobbled inclines, past the fans dressed as chickens and the shop window displays of constipation medicines, as he follows races big, small and even smaller through one glorious, muddy spring.
Cycling is wildly popular all over Belgium, but in the northern, Dutch-speaking half of the country it is part of the psyche. Tiny Flanders boasts a population of just 6 million, yet this small corner of northwest Europe has produced eight winners of the Tour de France, five times as many professional riders as Italy or Spain.
Blending reportage, interviews, observation, biography, and history, and written with affectionate humor by a committed Belgophile, The Beast, the Emperor and the Milkman tells the story of Flanders' neurotic love affair with bike racing, from tough early heroes such as Jules Vanhevel--wounded by mortar fire in World War I and leading the world championship road race until he collided with a cow--to latter-day ironmen such as Tom Boonen, three-times winner of the Tour of Flanders and owner of a pet donkey named Kamiel.
Ranging over 500 years of Flemish and European history, across windswept polders, along back roads and through an awful lot of beer cafes, Pearson examines the characters, the myths and rivalries that make Flanders a place where cycling is a religion and the riders its lycra-clad priests.
- Harry Pearson
- Bloomsbury Sport
- Fecha publicación
Harry Pearson has been shortlisted for both the William Hill and the Thomas Cook/Daily Telegraph prizes. Slipless in Settle was the 2012 MCC/Cricket Society Book of the Year and Connie: The Marvellous Life of Learie Constantine won the award in 2018. The Far Corner has been named as one of the fifty greatest sports books of all time by both The Times and the Observer. His book A Tall Man in a Low Land is the bestselling English language travelogue about Belgium.