Book Review: Discovering the Motorcycle

Reader Contribution by Richard Backus
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Full disclosure: I have some personal involvement in Armand Ensanian’s impressive new book, Discovering the Motorcycle: The History. The Culture. The Machines. Since 1887. I first spoke with Armand sometime in mid-2015, when he called asking if I’d be willing to spend some time talking with him about a book he was writing about motorcycles and the history of motorcycling.

His proposal was ambitious. He didn’t want to just explore a corner of motorcycling; he wanted to explore the entire universe of motorcycling, from its history to its culture to the machines themselves. I have to admit that I listened with a bit of skepticism as he laid out his planned book, because while he had experience in the publishing world, he’d certainly never done anything like this. The almost encyclopedic tome he proposed was no small project. Acquiring and parsing the necessary information was in itself a formidable task; pulling it together in a compelling and coherent way that will draw new and long-time riders — and perhaps more importantly, non-riders — to its pages quite another. I’ve fielded more than a few calls from would-be book authors, but Armand was different, his enthusiasm and love for motorcycles and motorcycling approachable and clear. Before I knew it, I had agreed to review his manuscript for publication and write its foreword.

When Armand sent me an early version of the manuscript to review, it became clear just how serious he was about making this book a reality and just how capable he was of seeing that reality through. What follows is my foreword for Armand’s book. While not a typical review, it expresses, I hope, my appreciation for what Armand has done, self-funded, working basically alone and without the benefit of a supportive publisher. — Richard Backus

Foreword to Discovering the Motorcycle

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