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Bunion Derby: The 1928 Footrace Across America Hardcover – October 15, 2007

4.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

.,."a brilliant, compelling, enthralling read about a piece of American history that for the most part faded into the dust its participants no doubt kicked up."

From the Inside Flap

The story of Charley Pyle's 3,400-mile cross country race and extravaganza and the men who endured 84 days of mountains, deserts, mud, and sandstorms to compete for a $25,000 grand prize.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press; First Edition edition (October 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826343015
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826343017
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,181,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Charles Kastner's Bunion Derby tells the saga of 199 men who raced across the country in 1928. It's an incredible tale, with many interesting threads - watching the race unfold; hearing of the incredible strength, courage and athletic skills of the competitors; and following the grandious dreams but ultimate ineptitude of the the race's "director general", C.C. Pyle. The story unfolds as a factual, chronological accounting of the race. A bonus is that you get a strong sense of cultural and popular America in the pre-depression 1920's, the sort of thing you don't get in history class. The writing throughout is crisp and entertaining, with just the right amount of repetition to be able to keep the scores of characters in the book distinguishable.

Why a scholarly work? Kastner had clearly done years of painstaking research to cobble together this story from hundreds and hundreds of sources. There are 36 pages of references accompanying the book citing the source for all information contained within the narrative. Kastner lists 75 newspapers in the references from which he combed through archives to find nuggets to enrich the story. Kastner has provided a first rate book and first rate service in preserving this important event in running and American history.
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Format: Hardcover
The 1920's are famous for grandiose stunts and promotions. One of the most arduous was the great bunion derby of 1928. Brainchild of promoter Charles C. Pyle, this was a foot race from California to New York, spotlighting the newly laid Route 66. This grueling race attracted trained athletes from across the United States and beyond. But most participants were amateurs, ill-suited to the trial before them. They came for the glory, or the thrill, or perhaps the $25,000 prize. Of the 199 starters an ama zing 55 men completed the race.

Kastner's account follows African American, Ed Gardner, through the torturous ordeal. This is history that reads like a novel - absorbing and well-paced. Kastner brings into sharp focus the motivation, the perseverance, the will, the grit that made Gardner a hero of his day.
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By Bruce Hilpert on December 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
How quickly we forget! I have been a lifelong student of American history and a casual runner for more than 20 years, yet, I had never heard of the 1928 "International Trans-Continental Foot Race," an epic, non-stop, 84-day road race covering 3400 miles from Los Angeles to New York City. By today's "ultra-marathon" standards, such a feat of endurance is inconceivable.

In his delightful book, "Bunion Derby," Charles Kastner has brought this remarkable race and its incredible participants back to life, helping to fulfill race referee Arthur Duffy's prediction that "...some day the public will come to realize that this cross country foot race is one of the greatest athletic achievements of the age."

Organized by sports promoter C.C. Pyle and his partner, football hero "Red" Grange, the race attracted 199 participants who competed for a First Prize of $25,000, a small fortune at the time. Each morning, the runners rolled off their metal cots, ran a race leg of 30-75 miles, scrounged for dinner, fell exhausted onto their cots, and woke up to do the whole thing over. Along the way, they had to overcome freezing temperatures, sprained ankles, bad food, assaults by hit-and-run drivers, and threats of violence against the African-American runners.

Could anyone today even imagine running from Los Angeles through the Mojave Desert, crossing the mountains of northern Arizona, and reaching the New Mexico border in twenty days? Throw in freezing rains, a 7400' elevation gain, and howling head winds and the feat becomes super-human.

Remarkably, 55 of the original 199 starters finished the race, even though many were simply amateur runners or not even runners at all. At least, not when they started.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a beautifully written and well-researched story, and to that extent it is a good book. Chuck and Mary Kastner are friends, and frequent visitors to our Bed & Breakfast, so I won't say any more about the book than "Buy it" you won't be disappointed!

The story on the other hand belongs not only to the book, but to American History. The racers formed a cross-section of American society, with some fascinating foreigners thrown in for good measure. The trials and tribulations of all the runners amazed me and their sheer persistence could not help but become fodder for the story. But more than that the story is of ordinary people whose characters and personalities were forever changed by their phenomenal efforts. When the leaders of the race cross into New York State, there is a gesture by the leading racer which brought tears to my eyes. I leave it to you to buy the book and read the story, and admire these Bunioneers.
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Format: Hardcover
As a runner who likes to buy running books its one like this which inspires me the most. Just guys toughing it out going far. Well written and perfect for a history buff like myself.
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