At the turn of the 20th century, hundreds of handsome,
lightning-fast racers won the hearts and minds of a
bicycling-crazed public. Scientists studied them, newspapers
glorified them, and millions of dollars in purse money was awarded
to them. Major Taylor aimed to be the fastest of them all. A
prominent black man at a time when such a thing was deemed
scandalous, his mounting victories, high moral virtue, and
bulletlike riding style made him a target for ridicule from the
press and sabotage by the white riders who shared the track with
Taylor's most formidable and ruthless opponent--a man nicknamed the
"Human Engine"--was Floyd McFarland. One man was white, one black;
one from a storied Virginia family, the other descended from
Kentucky slaves; one celebrated as a hero, one trying to secure his
spot in a sport he dominated. The only thing they had in common was
the desire to be named the fastest man alive. Their rivalry riveted
first America, and then the world. Finally, in 1904, both men
headed to Australia for a much-anticipated title match to decide,
beyond dispute, who would claim the coveted title.
"Major" is the gripping story of a superstar nobody saw coming--a
classic underdog, aided by an unlikely crew: a disgraced fight
promoter, a broken ex-racer, and a poor upstate girl from New York
who wanted to be a queen. It is also the account of a fierce
rivalry that would become an archetypal tale of white versus black
in the 20th century. Most of all, it is the tale of our nation's
first black sports celebrity--a man who transcended the handicaps
of race at the turn of the century to reach the stratosphere of
"From the Hardcover edition."
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