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Major Taylor: The Extraordinary Career of a Champion Bicycle Racer Paperback – May 9, 1996
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Both a world and national champion, Taylor bicycled to glory on three continents. His name on the marquee meant added revenue and attendance. In Europe, he was a superstar, and treated like one. Yet he was mocked by fellow riders in America, shunned by his sport's establishment, and died forgotten and penniless in Chicago in 1932. Part of why Taylor should be remembered is the way he reacted to the hatred he had to ride against: "I always played the game fairly and tried my hardest," he wrote in his own autobiography, which Ritchie thoroughly mines, "although I was not always given a square deal or anything like it ... I only ask from them the same kind of treatment which I give and am willing to continue to give."
Ritchie does yeoman's service in reviving Taylor's story and giving it context with a carefully studied examination of what life was like for black Americans 100 years ago. More importantly, he reaches into the muck of the past and returns with a clear picture of an endangered species: the thoroughly decent human being. --Jeff Silverman
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
While the book makes for a good short history of the early years of cycling as a sport and how it has evolved, Taylor's transcends the sport of cycling and provides a rich glimpse into early 20th century racial issues, the development of transportation in the US, the twighlight of the Guilded Age and the onset of the Great Depression. Ritchie weaves all of these together in a compelling manner.
In hindsight, while the likes of Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson are often credited with being the original trailblazers for black athletes, they owe much to the brave steps taken by the now sadly little remembered Major Taylor. This book is long overdue.
I read few books cover to cover but I have had the pleasure of reading this one 4 times. Ritchie has this book so well documented that anyone reading it would have no problem of becoming totally engrossed in it. A well done from me.
The chapter titles outline the story: (1) Prologue; (2) early guidance and inspiration; (3) bicycle boom and Jim Crow; (4) precocious teenager, colored champion of America; (5) rising star; (6) new horizons, new opposition; (7) the fastest bicycle rider in the world; (8) champion of America at last; (9) superstar; (10) world traveler and international celebrity; (11) comeback and decline; (12) difficult adjustments; (13) autobiography and illness (14) Chicago tragedy.
Especially notable are the many photographs and extensive footnotes at the end. I recommend this book as a historical record of early bicycle racing and life with Jim Crow in America.
The author has gone to great lengths to find the true story.
For anyone interested in the history of cycling, a must read.
If you liked this book, also see "Unforgivable Blackness," the documentary by Ken Burns about the boxer Jack Johnson--an amazing film about another black champion living in racist America.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book - the pictures are excellent. I would probably recommend a middle school or high school level.Published 8 months ago by Beth
I thought it was an incredible story of black man with a great determination. To do what he did back in the late 18th century was just unbelievable. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Robert S Lee
made an unusual gift for a bike rider while he recovered from surgery & couldn't ride. little known but important story.Published on January 10, 2014 by helen hastings
I want this book to be required reading for any sports fan. It exposes the enormous pressure Major Taylor endured and demonstrates why his was one of the USA's greatest athletes. Read morePublished on February 7, 2012 by Hahn