Motorcycle Daredevil

evel knieval cover

Evel Knievel
Motorcycle Daredevil
Schmitz
1978

If you are of a certain age, you will immediately recognize the name Evel Knievel. I was a teen during 1970s when Evel was doing his thing. He was always in the news taking his bike and jumping over stuff. Even if you knew nothing about stunt work, motorcycles or anything “daredevil”, everyone knew about Evel Knievel.

Even as a teen I wondered about a few things. Why was his name Evel? I really couldn’t grasp why someone would choose such a name. More importantly, I wondered why someone would take a motorcycle and jump over stuff. Evel was good at self-promotion and worked hard to keep his name in the news. Each jump was more elaborate then the last.

If you were buying youth biography back in the 1970s, Evel would have been a slam dunk subject for the kids, and probably many adults. By the 1980s, Evel was more or less out of the news and in the 1990s sort of resurfaced again. Knievel died in 2007. Evel’s son, Robbie has carried on the daredevil tradition.

Aside from the nostalgia trip for people my age, this book is hardly a good choice for a modern youth biography collection. I doubt the average 4th grader knows anything about Evel Knievel. Even if you have a daredevil fan base among your youth population,  this book is still too old for it to be of any use to a kid in 2021. An updated biography might have a place in some libraries.

 

evel growing up

jumping with motorcycle

evel's rocket

3 comments

  1. Ah! My first horse got the name Evel Knievel because he seemed able — and eager — to jump almost anything. (But I renamed him Gabriel.) So the man has kind of a nice association for me.

    And Joie Chitwood! AFAIK, his namesake thrill show is still in operation — they’d be a highlight of the evening at the Blue Hill Fair in Maine. I never actually watched the show, but you could hear it wherever you were at the fairgrounds. (BTW the Blue Hill Fair was the fair in E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web.” So evocative to ride the ferris wheel and think about Fern and Henry Fussy…)

  2. In the 1990s he was used to come up with an “After Dark” screensaver whose propensity to crash (land, not crash the computer) was user adjustable via the “insurance risk” slider, which I think maxed out at 100,000 USD.

  3. I absolutely would have read this book in 1978.

    But there’s no good reason it’s still in any library. Put it in the book sale or online and pick up a little money from someone middle-aged.

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