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Publisher's Summary

In the tradition of The Boys in the Boat and Seabiscuit, a fascinating portrait of a groundbreaking but forgotten figure - the remarkable Major Taylor, the Black man who broke racial barriers by becoming the world’s fastest and most famous bicyclist at the height of the Jim Crow era.

In the 1890s, the nation’s promise of equality had failed spectacularly. While slavery had ended with the Civil War, the Jim Crow laws still separated Blacks from Whites, and the excesses of the Gilded Age created an elite upper class. Amid this world arrived Major Taylor, a young Black man who wanted to compete in the nation’s most popular and mostly White man’s sport, cycling. Birdie Munger, a White cyclist who once was the world’s fastest man, declared he could help turn the young Black athlete into a champion. 

Twelve years before boxer Jack Johnson and 50 years before baseball player Jackie Robinson, Taylor faced racism at nearly every turn - especially by Whites who feared he would disprove their stereotypes of Blacks. In The World’s Fastest Man, years in the writing, investigative journalist Michael Kranish reveals new information about Major Taylor based on a rare interview with his daughter and other never-before-uncovered details from Taylor’s life. Kranish shows how Taylor indeed became a world champion, traveled the world, was the toast of Paris, and was one of the most chronicled Black men of his day. 

From a moment in time just before the arrival of the automobile when bicycles were king, the populace was booming with immigrants, and enormous societal changes were about to take place, The World’s Fastest Man shines a light on a dramatic moment in American history - the gateway to the 20th century. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Michael Kranish (P)2019 Simon & Schuster

What listeners say about The World's Fastest Man

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Important Look at Conquering Racism in a Pyrrhic Way

Major Taylor’s story of his climb to the top of the professional bicycle tours of the world while being forced to encounter horrific racism is both exciting and heartbreaking. This is a glimpse at the turn of the century in the US and in the world. His strength laid in his relentless training and in his religion. Unfortunately for him, the inherent racism of his home city of Indianapolis, his country, and the European continent beat him down badly. This is an important book for this time.

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before there was Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson

if you don't already know the story of Major Taylor you should read this book. before there was a Jesse Owens a Jackie Robinson or Jack Johnson here was Major Taylor. this book does a wonderful job in describing in unbelievable detail the life and trials of Major Taylor. you don't have to be a cyclist to appreciate the dedication and persistence and determination that major Taylor exhibited in his day. you don't even have to be black to truly understand the importance of Major Taylor. I would highly recommend reading this book is it tells not only a story of Major Taylor but a great historic account of race relations during this. of time.

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wow, who knew?

very interesting story, both as biographically and historically. A great reminder for us not to backtrack on the progress made for civil rights and against bigotry!

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Wonderful I nspiration through trouble times.

What a great story! You practically hung on every word as Major Taylor was nearing the winning completion of his races. As a sports story it was a very good read. But, what struck me was also the rampant racism so prevalent at this time in our American history. Yet, through it all Major Taylor prevailed not just on the racetrack but also in life.

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Reviving a nearly forgotten legacy

Even today, despite a resurgence of all forms of bicycling, the story of Major Taylor isn't very well known, even among bicyclists. This book seeks to change that, chronicling the life of an extraordinary man.
Born into a poor family, Marshall "Major" Taylor would be a true rags to riches story, except he never quite got rich. But he did get famous the world over for bicycle racing. Along the way he faced racism, s changing political climate, and the rise of the automobile.
The book does a very good job of laying out Taylor's life story. The narrations of the races are particularly entertaining. However, in an attempt to place Taylor's story in historical context, it takes many tangents, sometimes on lengthy detours. Some of these the author only loosely ties into the story, saying "Taylor likely would have known about this" or "Taylor could hardly have failed to notice that".
It's worth a read, however, even if you aren't that interested in bicycling. It covers a lot, from the ever-changing racial attitudes, to the struggles of aging athletes, to responsibly managing money.

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This is an Important book.

I have tried several times to write a simple review for this book and I just can't seem to coherently express how good this book is. I knew the short version of this history but .. . . Wow, Just wow.


That being said this book should be required reading.

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My Thoghts

excellent
Major Taylor's life
The history of the bike
The histoty of the times
excellent

1 person found this helpful