The Tour de France is happening right now! The 2015 edition started on July 4th and will continue until July 26th. I’m excited to be able to share this interview with Eric Reed about his new book, Selling the Yellow Jersey: The Tour de France in the Global Era (University of Chicago Press, 2015) as riders make their way through the various stages of this, the most famous bike race in the world.
A compelling historical narrative of the Tour, including some of its most significant moments and stars, Selling the Yellow Jersey explores the Tour as a global phenomenon. Reed argues that, over the course of the twentieth century, France was a full participant in a globalization that the Tour exemplified as a business and media enterprise, and a spectacle consumed by millions of fans around the world. Considering the roles of organizers, riders, and spectators within and outside of France, the book examines the meanings of “Frenchness” in contexts regional, national, and global. From the Tour’s emergence in 1903 during a “cycling craze” that had a particular vitality in France, to the doping scandals of more recent years, Selling the Yellow Jersey traces the Tour’s triumphs and scandals over more than a hundred years. It is a history of culture and commerce, from an organizational home base in Paris, to smaller French host cities such as Pau and Brest, to an international scene of participants both on, and beyond, the saddle.