A journey through the wild madness of bicycle racing in Flanders.
LONGLISTED FOR THE WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR 2019
'A joy.' – Ned Boulting
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.
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.
About the Author
Harry Pearson has been shortlisted for both the William Hill and the Thomas Cook/Daily Telegraph prizes. Slipless in Settle was the 2012 MCC Book of the Year. 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.
“An enormously entertaining cycling journal” —Times Literary Supplement
“Absolutely splendid ... full of wonderful things.” —Rhod Sharp, BBC Radio 5 Live
“Harry Pearson's class and wit were the reason I wanted to start writing in the first place. To read his words on cycling and Flanders, two of the best things in the world, is a joy.” —Ned Boulting
“Entertaining” —Richard Williams, The Guardian
“The ever amiable Harry Pearson invites us to accompany him on a tour of Flanders ... [the cyclists' stories] illuminate the landscape and history of this little understood pocket of Europe.” —Guardian Books of the Year
“A witty, engaging guide to the spring bike races in Flanders ... [Pearson] covers a lot of quirky historical ground in his "bone-shaking tour".” —Telegraph Books of the Year