"Robertson's Book Of Firsts" Review

Who did what for the first time

Robertson's Book of FirstsJeff Allen

Robertson’s Book of Firsts is an endlessly digestible reference, a long, alphabetical list of accomplishments that takes pleasure in bawdy tangents. Motorcycles, naturally, get a mention. We learn that among the first American motorcycles were the inventions of E.S. Pennington, “a somewhat dubious character,” who made wild claims of his machines, took orders in quantity and failed to fill them, then disposed of his patents for an outrageous sum. A note on the first American motorcycle fatality sits conveniently adjacent to one of the first motor hearses.

But Robertson's Book of Firsts isn't about riding. It's not about achievement either, really. It's about innovation. Being the first across the line. Finding a boundary and crossing it, whether it's mechanical (the first escalator, p. 178) or personal (the first Medals of Honor, p. 286). As we humans continually ascend and improve, real frontiers grow ever more rare. Having a catalog of boundaries crossed and conquered by others on your coffee table or tucked among your shop manuals is as fine an incentive as any to go searching for your own.

Grade: A
Summary: A guide to limits pushed past.
Price: $20/Hardcover