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Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry's Extraordinary Ride

2.86  ·  Rating Details ·  208 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
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 Londonderry changed all of that.
When Annie left Boston in June of that year, she was a brash young lady with a 42-pound bicycle, a revolver, a change of underwear, and a dream of freedom. She was also a feisty mother of
Kindle Edition, 273 pages
Published (first published 2007)
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Kaye McSpadden
At first, I was very excited to hear about this true but mostly unknown story about a 19th-century woman who rode a bicycle around the world. However, about a quarter of the way through, my disappointment in the book started growing and continued, all the way to the end. These are my comments:

1. First, I must point out that I listened to the audiobook version and personally, I thought the narrator was awful. (It was not the author.) He read the text in an odd and distracting cadence with a kind
Lisa Buie-Collard
Jul 17, 2012 Lisa Buie-Collard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story was incredible!!! I had never heard of "Annie Londonderry" until my husband bought this book for me to read. As I have cycled across southern and western France he was sure Annie would pique my interest. He was right. I'm glad to have read the story told through the eyes of one of her relations. I'm not sure anyone else could have done so unbiased a job as Peter Zheutlin has done. I must say, as much as I admire her prowess, I would so love to know what was going on in her mind to hav ...more
Jan 16, 2013 Cameron rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
To me, this is an example of when a historical non-fiction, with a fascinating and little-known subject matter, goes very, very wrong.

The story focuses on a woman named Annie Kochovsky who, near the turn of the century, abandoned her husband and three children, along with her Jewish last name, and set out to be the first woman to travel around the world on bicycle. Interesting idea, especially when you consider the role of women at the time and how Annie may have contributed to the idea of the "
Aug 16, 2011 Thomas rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be a very terrible book about a very interesting event. The author didn't have sufficient information to really tell the story, so he speculated endlessly. "What Annie must have been thinking at this time?" "Whether she actually did this or that is not known, but..." He fills in the rest of the pages by quoting endless newspaper stories that say exactly the same thing, over and over again. It seems quite clear to me that this gentleman sold the book on proposal and then could not ...more
Nate Briggs
There are several historical characters who deserve movies of their own - or at least screenplays - but most of these individuals I keep to myself (if a story is too good to be true, then I naturally want to write it).

But I'm happy to remind anyone and everyone about one of the great feminist figures of the 19th Century: the amazing Annie Londonderry - the first woman to more or less "ride a bicycle around the world" - and whose adventures are detailed in "Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie L
There's a part of me that really enjoyed this book and learning about the almost faddish history of races and rides around the world. I was fascinated by Annie's boldness in going on the trip, and her clever brashness in seeking sponsors and fast talking people into supporting her ride. Considering that it sounds like the author did not have much to work on--mostly a lot of newspaper articles--he did a pretty decent job of piecing her trip together and parsing out reality from Annie's many stori ...more
Jun 27, 2011 Sonia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Non si tratta di un romanzo. O di una biografia. O di un saggio sui benefici e non della bicicletta.
E' qualcosa in meno di quel che si può pensare dal titolo, ma ha qualcosa in più da quel che ci si poteva aspettare dopo aver letto le prime pagine.
Pensavo fosse la storia romanzata della famosa (non per tutti) Annie Londonderry, e della sua impresa compiuta a fine diciannovesimo secolo per una scommessa: fare il giro del mondo in bicicletta. Il racconto del suo giro c'è, ma di romanzo c'è ben poc
Aug 23, 2016 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
[T]here was, in the 1890’s, a lively debate about whether cycling was beneficial or detrimental to a women’s health, and many physicians took sides. Some, mostly men, argued that the exertion involved in cycling was too much for the frail female physiology. Others took the affirmative side, often with the financial “encouragement” of bicycle manufactures.

[T]he women’s movement of the 1890’s and the cycling craze became so inextricable intertwined that in 1896 Susan B. Anthony told the N
Miz Lizzie
In 1895 Annie Kopchovsky left her Orthodox Jewish husband and three children to set off on an around the world trip on a bicycle. Purportedly to settle a bet between two "sugar kings" that a woman would be unable to complete such a feat, Annie learned to ride a "wheel", progressively adapting her attire to allow full movement, sold advertisement to be worn on her body, and told wild conflicting and some patently untrue tales of her travels as she took up the challenge. Taking the name of Annie L ...more
Apr 13, 2009 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ladies of the Wheel
Recommended to Kate by: Mom
Shelves: biking
"The wearers of the bloomers are usually young women who have minds of their own and tongues that know how to talk."

"The occasional denunciation of the pastime as unwomanly, is fortunately lost in the general approval that a new and wholesome recreation has been found, whose pursuit adds joy and vigor to the dowry of the race. Having reached these conclusions, the onlooker is drawn by the irresistible force of the stream. She borrows, hires or buys a wheel and follows tentatively. Her point of v
Oct 20, 2012 Caitlin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cyclists, women, historians
Recommended to Caitlin by: Discount shelf at Green Apple Books
Shelves: cycling
This tale was not entirely what I expected, as Annie Londonderry was something of a round-the-world fraud, but beyond the actual cycling, it's an engaging story of a woman well ahead of her time, who was a strong example of women's liberation in the 1890s, even if she demonstrated it in a rather unorthodox manner (but being unorthodox was kind of what it was all about, right?). The story of how Annie basically lied her way around the globe is just as interesting as if she'd actually done it all ...more
Apr 06, 2008 Candice rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in late 19th century females
I thought this might be a good book to recommend to biking friends, but I think I would recommend it only to female biking friends, and then with a caveat. It's not all about biking. The woman who went "around the world on two wheels" in 1894-1895 often used four. To be sure, she had to cross the oceans in ships, but it seemed like she took the train more than was absolutely necessary.

Not only that, but she embellished her stories leaving the reader wondering what was true and what was not. In s
Caitlin Cohn
I'd give this book 2.5 stars. Zheutlin does an admirable job of stitching together a lot of different materials, but the book still fell somewhat flat for me. First, as a dress historian, I noticed that he missed the mark on his discussions of her dress. Second, his discussion of the New Woman lacks nuance. The New Woman was a trope, not a social movement, although it was associated in some people's minds with feminism.

Annie Londonderry had a compelling story, but I wish Zheutlin would have foc
Apr 02, 2012 Bonnie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps the author tried too hard to be unbiased as he told the story of his great grand-aunt's amazing journey. He is constantly pointing out instances where she stretched or misrepresented the truth. Still, the reader discovers, almost in spite of the author, that Annie Londonderry was a fascinating and brave woman. Not only did she find a way to see the world and find adventure, she figured out how to finance her journey on the fly, as she went along. She was representative of women discoveri ...more
The author did an admirable job of squishing 50 pages worth of material into a 200 page book. While Annie's story is interesting, as is the society of 1894 in which it occurs, I found it grew rapidly repetitive as we are regaled with the contents of similar news articles from every little town in the USA through which she passed. I also felt a bit hornswoggled when I discovered that Annie didn't exactly ride her bike around the world as much as she took her bike with her around the world. Yes, t ...more
Feb 03, 2013 René rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A difficult one to rate. Up until the Afterword, I was ready to give the book just 2 stars. I was beginning to find the story repetitive. It's less a story of how Annie Londonderry cycled around the world, than of how she made tons of stuff up. After awhile I began to find all her tall tales and lies about her trip tiresome to read about, and my respect for her (and interest in her) diminished. Then you get to the end and you find out that the author is related to this woman, that he survived a ...more
Jun 26, 2009 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book and had the chance to meet the author over a discussion of the book, which was a wonderful experience. What I like most about this book is that when you first pick it up, you assume it's going to be a narrative of an amazing ride (which it is) of an adventurous woman (which she was), but that the feat accomplished is simply a tour around the world--this is not the case. Annie Londonderry makes for a very complicated character, sometimes likeable, sometimes admirable, sometimes n ...more
interesting to a point -- the basic idea of a woman riding her bike around the world way back at the turn of the century was intriguing. But the author writes like he is writing a dissertation -- way too caught up in documentation--the point is that we know Annie *exaggerated* (a lot) and that it is impossible to know much of what actually happened--but it's still a great story, and should have been told as such. It would have been a better read if the author simply said once or twice, hey, we d ...more
Bethany Harvey
I "read" this book in audiobook form while on a long car trip, and I listened to it all the way through without much interruption, so my impressions may be very different from those I would have if I'd read it in paper form.

But it was repetitive. The book mostly follows a chronological order, but jumped around in time just enough that you often know what's coming because it's already been mentioned. The effect is, well, boring. And there's really no excuse for a true story about a 19th-century f
Oct 12, 2015 Janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting but repetitive true story of Annie who left her husband Max and three toddlers to go around the world on a bicycle and steamer! She was quite the woman of her time and a real force for the understanding of women as equals to men. Many newspaper clips and opinion pieces of the time on the woman who dared to do what a man had done earlier. In many ways she was a charlatan or just a master brander! She changed her stories to gain recognition and awareness. Quite the extraordinary wom ...more
May 19, 2012 Jacqueline rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I am clearly on a bicycle kick. This entertaining family memoir is about "Annie Londonderry" who left a husband and three children in Boston and "rode" around the world on a bicycle in 1894. This enterprising young woman managed, alone and quite unaided, to make it around the world and begin advertising promotion of women's sports. The afterword is not to be missed, as it is a family history in itself.
Apr 14, 2010 Cindy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was not an easy read with detailed descriptions and some repetition of the same events. However, I learned a lot about women's lives and social mores during the 1890's and a little about the history of bicycling to boot! I came to admire Annie for her independent and strong spirit in spite of her tendency to tell tall tales about her so-called trip around the world on a bicycle. Amusing. Thought provoking. It will make you grateful that you didn't live in the 1890's!
Amy Kauderer
I listened to this on CD. I think that if I had been reading it, I would not have finished it. There is a lot of detail, but some of it gets repetitive. I learned quite a bit and had not thought of how the bicycle may have helped the suffrage movement. I think that this book would have been much more enjoyable a little shorter and in less detail. The author obviously went to great pains to research this book.
Jul 23, 2009 Kimberly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for a paper I am presenting at a conference next winter. Turned out, I got more out of it than what I was looking for. It's a fascinating and complex true story about a woman who set out to cycle around the world in 1895. Annie was not a feminist, not even a "New Woman." What compelled her to go? What I found particularly interesting about the book was the issues that it raises with regard to being a woman.
Mar 02, 2015 CJ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Annie “Londonderry” Cohen Kopchovsky, a 23 yr old Jewish mother, living in a tenement in 19th century Boston, bullshits her way into travelling around the world.
Wish there was more source material; since there are no surviving diaries or letters the author does his best to fill in the gaps with speculation, newspaper articles about her journey, and stories about her contemporaries.
An interesting woman, if not a role model. Annie's personality saves this book from the somewhat dry telling of her story. So glad the author took the time to dig up the few remaining details about her journey. I have found the subject of Women cyclists of this time to be fascinating one and hope people continue to write about them before the details are complete gone.
May 02, 2009 Jen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought this would be the story of Nellie Bly on a bike. Unfortunately, the amount of biking that Londonderry did was far short of around the world. And this lady was no Nellie Bly. The book suffered from the inability to tell truth from lies and a somewhat disjointed narrative. It made me with I had read a different book about women bicyclists or biking in the 1890s.
Jan 08, 2016 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this short book about a woman who claimed to circle the world on bicycle in the 1890s. While she indeed circled the globe, the amount of time and the distance she covered by bike is questionable, she was apparently quite the entertainer and charmer, and probably would have been a star no matter when she lived. Very enjoyable read.
Nov 06, 2009 Kristen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
The good parts are in the beginning and very end. The author’s journey, finding out about his relative and the parts about the New Woman and how the bicycle played into that were fascinating.
The not so good parts are everything else. This woman was a fraud and swindler but still I thought she was amazing and the author put her down more often than necessary.
Sep 03, 2014 Kristen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, 2014
2.5 stars. I wasn't crazy about the narrator's style; it read a little too dry. I did like the aspects of story that dealt with women's role in society in the 1890's, but I got a bit exasperated with Annie after several audio discs.
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Peter Zheutlin is an avid cyclist and a freelance journalist whose work appears regularly in the Boston Globe and the Christian Science Monitor. He has also written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, AARP Magazine, Bicycling, the New England Quarterly, and other publications. He lives in Needham, Massachusetts.
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