The Pedestriennes: America’s Forgotten Superstars is the first book by Harry Hall, who has been a journalist involved in sports journalism for thirty-plus years. This book is a history of women athletes of the late 1800s who were known as “Pedestriennes”: professional endurance walkers, short-lived celebrities of the time.
The history is presented as a blend of accounts of specific events/competitions featuring these women from contemporary newspaper articles with information on the antecedent development of sportive running and walking by men and women. The details of these women’s engagement in the events vividly portrays their astounding fortitude and endurance of significant difficulties faced during weeks of walking, limited periods of sleep or rest, performing in stadiums or tents often filled with smoke from the men in the crowds, and the physical and mental ailments that came on as they walked. The winners would earn prize money, which usually far exceeded their ability to otherwise earn an income. This American craze preceded similar fads or phenomena such as those of the 1920s and 1930s: dance marathons, flagpole sitting, and six-day bicycle races.
This book is very easy and enjoyable to read. Most people will have very little knowledge or awareness of endurance walking, but should find this book to be interesting and even amazing.
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