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Fallen Angel: The Passion of Fausto Coppi

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  405 ratings  ·  36 reviews
The great cyclist of the postwar years: Coppi’s scandalous divorce and controversial death convulsed Italy in the 1950s. Fallen Angel tells the tragic story of the man who became Italy’s symbol of rebirth after the disasters of war, yet died reviled and heartbroken.
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 14th 2009 by Jonathan Cape (first published June 4th 2008)
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Nick Sweeney
Jan 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love everything William Fotheringham writes, from his journalism to his books (I think I've read all of them). He's a classically good writer in that he is an expert in his subject (pro cycling, if that's not clear) but never condescends, never gets too geeky, and always pitches his work at exactly the right level. I had every faith that this biography of Coppi would be what I'd been after ever since I heard of Coppi. The bare facts are that Coppi, from a small village in Italy, was set for cy ...more
Dec 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-read-2016
At his height, Fausto Angelo Coppi, was the best cyclist in the world. He shot to fame after he won the Giro d’Italia at the age of 20 in 1940, something that some though was impossible for someone so young. After war service he resumed his cycling career and in 1949 he was the first to win the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia in the same year. In 1952 he became the second person to win both again. These victories in the grand tours and the one day classics were riden on roads that would nowaday ...more
Paul Convery
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Passion of Fausto Coppi is a fitting title for a book telling the life story of one cycling's true legends. While it was a story I was already familiar with (most notable thanks to Pedalare! Pedalare! by John Foot), William Fotheringham does an excellent job of telling the story of Fausto Coppi's life without getting caught up in all the drama and speculation that still surrounds it to this day. The real highlight of the book is how Fotheringham manages to give Coppi a real character, one th ...more
Sep 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Although I was aware of Coppi from a very early age I was not aware of the enormity of his reputation (Italians still rate him their finest athlete 50 years after his death).
This is an easy book to read but I suppose it would be of limited interest to non cyclists.
The crux of the book is not,surprisingly, his exploits and achievements as a cyclist but his adulterous relationship with a female fan. Amazingly he finished up in court as adultery in Italy was still illegal (this law was not repealed
Laura Anderson
Sep 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, non-fiction
This was an interesting, engaging read about the life of Fausto Coppi, clearly told by an expert.

An over-reliance on the humble semi-colon put a dampener on the book a little, as did the author's tendency to jump forwards and backwards in time for certain passages (causing something akin to 'spoilers' for those of us who don't already know everything about Coppi's life and races!).

Still, great to read the fascinating story behind a cycling legend.
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a very interesting read on one of the greats of the sport of cycling.
I found it fascinating and Fotheringham's writing was excellent
Giles Knight
Aug 02, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Cycling fans, people interested in Italian history, cycling and otherwise.
A moving and detailed history of the life of the Italian cyclist. I took my time reading it, as I enjoy Fotheringham's style of writing and wanted it to continue as long as possible. Even though I knew how Coppi's life ended, I found myself feeling intense frustration at the seeming ineptitude of the physicians in charge of his care in his final days.

The tales of his childhood and his close relationship with his brother, Serse, were particularly moving and quite revealing of Coppi's character. A
Jun 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Fotheringham - described by another writer as the monk of cycle journalism has really captured the aura that surrounds the god-like Coppi. He came at a time when the newly reformed ITALIA was recovering from the beating they took in the War. Coppi did his time in the army - and
came out with a determination to make his career a total success - making up for the years that was stolen from him due to the war.

He rose to dizzying heights - and when the rode rose up - he took flight.

But the fall was a
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A well researched and written story of the epic, iconic, and tragic life of Il Campionissimo. It is the enthralling story of Fausto Coppi's rise from humble beginnings to the premier sports legend of his time and father of European bike racing to his tragic, phsyical and moral decline and untimely death. His life gripped and defined the Italians of his time and his unique physical prowess and larger-than-life personality have made him a legend that lives on. Coppi's example is the epitome of mas ...more
Aug 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bikes
This book was interesting in its descriptions of cycling, Coppi and life in Italy in the 40s and 50s, but it often seemed like it was interesting in spite of the author, not because of him. I felt that a better writer could have made it a better book. But when I mentioned this to a fellow reader, his reply was, "You haven't read a lot of cycling biographies, have you?" And I haven't. So I am rating it on content, and how much it made me want to go to the Giro de Lombardia. And ban girlfriends fr ...more
Jude Nonesuch
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: factual, biography
Also finished this ages ago. Way better than the Merckx one; maybe it's cos it all happened long enough ago for there to remain a sense of mystery and magic about the whole thing, but the thing that he tried in the Merckx biography that didn't come off, of trying to explore the inner life and motivations of the subject, really really worked really well in this one; maybe Coppi's just a way more interesting person.
Zia Laura
Aug 21, 2017 rated it liked it
It's OK. I've probably read too much already on Coppi and failed to find a new sparkle for this book. Nevertheless, it's a great account of cycling heroes' personalities and achievements. It's also a fab way to actually get inspiration for retracing historic rides and mountain passes that I so want to go riding now!
Sep 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
A fascinating biography of one of the greatest cyclists of all time. Well researched, balanced and insightful. Written by the same author who wrote the Tom Simpson biography. However, this should be reserved for cycling fanatics only.
May 15, 2011 rated it liked it
You cant call yourself a cyclist until you know the story of Fausto Coppi. The greatest cyclist ever according to many. Was an interesting read, not all about his racing but plenty about Italy through the 2nd world war and how it changed during this period.
James Webster
Apr 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Fotheringham's attention to detail. This is a fascinating insight into the life of one of cycling's greats. When this author's Merckx biography comes out in paperback, I'll definitely be buying it.
Claire Webster
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fascinating examination of the man behind the myth, and of the myth as well. I appreciated the insights into the life of cyclists of the time - the terrible conditions, the murderous slogging: but better than a life of peasant drudgery.
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sport
Every year I celebrate the tour-de-France with a cycling book. This year I chose well. Actually cycling does very well. There is an awful lot of good writing about men turning pedals. I was turning pedals while reading it (not literally) and the book got me from Larne to Omagh.
Fran Hawkes
Aug 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fascinating account of the life of one of cycling's greatest heroes. His achievements on the bike were incredible and the scandal that threatened to ruin him is unbelievable to modern readers. Well written and interesting.
I obviously couldn’t wait until the Giro for some Giro-themed reading. If I want more Giro-themed reading in May, it’s going to be hard to top this one. Coppi is a legend of the sport for a reason; this book brings him to life.
Mar 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book about one of my favorite cyclists, and it also gave an insight into racing in Italy & the rest of Europe after WW2. ...more
Simon Curtis
Feb 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cycling
This is an outstanding book looking at the life of Italy's most famous sportsman, cyclist Fausto Coppi. Fascinating.
Sean Perry
Apr 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very insightful and sympathetic study of il campionissimo
Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bike-books
a very interesting account of one of the greatest cyclists of the 20th century. I knew nothing of his personal problems, so that was enlightening. good read.
Bruce Wright
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great insight into the early days of professional cycling in Italy. Fantastic personal story of a flawed champion struck down by a hypcritical public.
Jon Simmonds
Oct 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Not a bad book. I tend to find sporting biographies pretty dire, so this was a refreshing read. A life fully lived !
Mark Bennett
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Inspirational story of Fausto and the old legends of the tour. Takes cycling back to its basics, a story of a man versus his environment and ultimately his untimely death
Tim Dyson
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Don of cycling writing doing what he does best in bringing to life the tale of a long departed superstar. Vivid and perceptive, a tale of times a changing as much as legs a pedalling.
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Plodding narrative and a confusing ordering of events combine to diminish the telling of the incredible story or Coppi's life.
April Sanders
Oct 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Good summary of Coppi's life and career.
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