17 men, 6 cars, and a 21,000-mile race across 3 continents
On the morning of February 12, 1908, six cars from four different countries lined up in Times Square, surrounded by a frenzied crowd. The men who competed in the New York to Paris auto race were an international roster of personalities: a charismatic Norwegian outdoorsman, a witty French nobleman, a pair of Italian sophisticates, an aristocratic German army officer, and a cranky mechanic from Buffalo, New York. At a time when most people had never seen an automobile, these adventurous men set their course over mountain ranges, through Arctic freeze, and desert heat. There were no gas stations, no garages, and no replacement parts in case of emergency.
Two men rose to the top. Ober-lieutenant Hans Koeppen, a rising officer in the Prussian army, led the German team in their canvas-topped 40-horsepower Protos. His amiable personality belied a core of sheer determination, and by the race’s end, he had won the respect of even his toughest critics. His counterpart on the U.S. team was George Schuster, a blue-collar mechanic who led the Americans in their lightweight 60-horsepower Thomas Flyer. A born competitor, Schuster battled Koeppen until the very end. Ultimately the German and the American would be left alone in the race, fighting the elements, exhaustion, and each other until the winning car’s glorious entrance into Paris, on July 30, 1908.
About the Author
Julie M. Fenster is an award-winning author and historian, specializing in the American story. In 2006 her book Parish Priest, written with coauthor Douglas Brinkley, was a New York Times bestseller for seven weeks. She also wrote Ether Day: The Strange Tale of America's Greatest Medical Discovery and the Haunted Men Who Made It, which won the prestigious Anesthesia Foundation Award for Best Book. Fenster is the author of six other books, including Race of the Century: The Heroic True Story of the 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race and The Case of Abraham Lincoln: A Story of Adultery, Murder, and the Making of a Great President.
"If America dreams driving, this is when the dreams began." —Men's Health
“Fenster has saved an important part of the history of the automobile and adventure. All in all, it makes Race of the Century impossible to resist.” —Cleveland Plain–Dealer
“Fenster tells her story with zest and humor.” —American Heritage
“Fenster is a superb storyteller.” —Kirkus Reviews