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

Peter Zheut­lin
  • Review
By – January 27, 2012

While dar­ing jour­neys around the world might have seemed almost com­mon­place near the turn of the cen­tu­ry, cir­cum­nav­i­gat­ing the globe on a bicy­cle was anoth­er mat­ter. That a Jew­ish moth­er of three small chil­dren should have attempt­ed this feat is a fur­ther anom­aly, and that she should have achieved fame, admi­ra­tion (though some dis­dain), and even a cash reward, adds fur­ther appeal to this extra­or­di­nary story.

Bas­ing his nar­ra­tive on news­pa­per reports, author Zeut­lin zest­ful­ly unfolds the sto­ry of his rel­a­tive, Annie Kop­chovsky, from her ini­tial wager, to its cul­mi­na­tion many months lat­er, and the unan­tic­i­pat­ed changes that erupt­ed from her dra­mat­ic world tour. Her trip pop­u­lar­ized bicy­cling as a women’s sport, and changed how they dressed for it, and her per­son­al­i­ty and dar­ing added strength to the strug­gle for women’s rights. 

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, her long jour­ney seems to have left her fam­i­ly with the neg­a­tive effects that a mother’s absence can pro­duce, as detailed by the author from dis­cus­sions with Annie’s remain­ing descendants. 

Con­fin­ing his sto­ry to what he read in the con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous news­pa­pers and found in let­ters and oth­er mem­o­ra­bil­ia, the author sup­ple­ments his text with acknowl­edg­ments, an after­word, appen­dix, bib­li­og­ra­phy, epi­logue, index, and notes.

Claire Rudin is a retired direc­tor of the New York City school library sys­tem and for­mer librar­i­an at the Holo­caust Resource Cen­ter and Archives in Queens, NY. She is the author of The School Librar­i­an’s Source­book and Chil­dren’s Books About the Holocaust.

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