Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Eagle of Toledo - The Life and Times of Federico Bahamontes - by Alasdair Fotheringham

The Eagle of Toledo
The Life and Times of Federico Bahamontes
by: Alasdair Fotheringham
Published: June 21, 2012 by Aurum Press Ltd
Hardback, 281 pages

The Eagle of Toledo by Alasdair Fotheringham is the biography of Federico Bahamontes.  He is most famous for his 1959 win of the Tour de France and being the first Spanish rider to win the tour. He also won the King of the Mountains classification in the Tour de France six times. His amazing ability to climb mountains on his bike earned him the nickname "The Eagle of Toledo".

Alasdair Fotheringham did a great deal of research and interviews in preparation for writing this book. He interviewed teammates, rivals and of course Federico Bahamontes himself.

Bahamontes was a child at the time of the Spanish Civil Wars that took place form 1936 through 1939 and ended in General Franco's forces taking over the democratically elected Republic. After the war his family was facing near starvation as many were during this time in Spain. Reading this part of the book is an eye opening experience into the struggle for survival of many people during this portion of Spain's history. Federico's childhood was a constant search for food.

This book is enjoyable to read up to a point. I enjoyed reading about Federico Bahamontes rise to fame and fortune, but didn't enjoy the second half of the book as much. The author writes in depth about the controversies that arose during Bahamontes years of professional bicycle racing. My disappointment in the book is probably due to the fact that I was expecting a story of a racer who was successful and a book that ended in"they all lived happily ever after". Learning more about Federico Bahamontes and the history of Spain was my favorite part of the book. Click here for more photos and information on Federico Bahamontes.

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