Until 1981 no American even so much as rode in the Tour de France. Since then an invading fleet has crossed the Atlantic to dominate what was once a European sport, and a race whose very name is its country’s proud standard. First of the Yanks was Greg LeMond, who won the Tour in 1986, then Bobby Julich, and more recently Tyler Hamilton. After his Olympic triumph last year he is now in disgrace, charged with the faintly ghoulish offence of ‘blood-doping’, transfusing someone else’s blood, although nothing can erase his heroism in the great centennial Tour of two years ago, riding for three weeks in agony from a cracked collarbone.
Cultural tourism can be an edgy adventure when promoted by intellectuals, no less than when pursued by ordinary travellers. Backpacking across the Pakistan–Afghanistan border could get a foreigner killed. The tourist mentality inhabiting Western literary circles, however, carries no such fatal risk. Anglo-American critics and publishers foist their taste for exoticism and leftism, exemplified by
Douglas Davis talks to José Mar
If we were Israelis, we would by now be doing a standard thing to that white semi-detached pebbledash house at 51 Colwyn Road, Beeston. Having given due warning, we would dispatch an American-built ground-assault helicopter and blow the place to bits. Then we would send in bulldozers to scrape over the remains, and we would do the same to all the other houses in the area thought to have been the temporary or permanent addresses of the suicide bombers and their families.