Reviews for Marshall "Major" Taylor : World Champion Bicyclist, 1899-1901


Booklist Reviews 2007 September #1
This Trailblazer Biographies entry profiles Marshall Taylor, an African American bicyclist who, despite facing prejudice in racing and in life, achieved world renown at the turn of the last century. Following an introductory author's note, Brill's accessible, personable prose vividly relates Taylor's experiences, from the childhood trick-cycling gig that earned him his nickname, Major (inspired by his military costume), to his later triumphs as the first black world cycling champion. Darker moments are also covered, including his painful struggles with racism and his eventual plunge into obscurity, where he remained until after his death. Sidebars highlight American bicycle-racing history and Jim Crow laws; visuals include archival photos and ephemera. Although source notes are provided for quotations, many of which come from Taylor's autobiography, attribution is missing from passages that imply knowledge about the athlete's state of mind. Still, such dramatized segments add intimacy to the narrative, and throughout, this inspiring life story will engage children, whether or not they are cycling enthusiasts. The useful end matter includes resources for further research. Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2008 Spring
Brill offers a balanced account of the life of a little-known African American athlete who excelled in competitive bicycling in the 1890s and early 1900s. The narrative discusses the racism Taylor faced as well as the support he received; sidebars provide additional information. Black-and-white photos enhance the biography. Reading list, timeline, websites. Bib., glos., ind. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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VOYA Reviews 2007 December
Championship bicycling has captured the attention of the world in the past few decades, with familiar names such as Lance Armstrong and Greg Lemond. Less well-known is the history of the sport and its popularity at the turn of the twentieth century. This fascinating and well-documented biography paints a picture of a man who conquered the two-wheeled world at a time when people of his ethnicity were still struggling for basic human rights but whose name is barely known today. Marshall Taylor gained the nickname "Major" when he wore a uniform while performing trick cycling as a boy. Although born to a poor black family, he was adopted by a wealthy white family in Indianapolis and learned to ride on the son's bicycle. As a teenager, he moved from performing tricks to racing and soon became quite accomplished. Perhaps most gripping is the description of races where Taylor comes in first in order to escape the racist athletes and fans trying to hurt him. Although wealthy and internationally successful at his peak, he died at fifty-three, scarcely able make enough money to survive This book is an effective reference tool for research; located at the end is a section with guidance for learning more about Taylor, bicycling, and the times in which he lived. Somewhat less effective are inserted pages within the text that expand certain themes, such as women and bicycling and Jim Crow laws. These inserted sections break up the text and cause the reader to lose the narrative. Furthermore the range of dates in the title of the book does not seem to correspond with the dates listed within the text, which could lead to inaccurate citations if used for research purposes. The text itself is written in an easy, readable style, with many illustrations added to provide context and authenticity to the story.-Kathy Starks 4Q 3P M J Copyright 2007 Voya Reviews.

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