Once in a while you stumble across a (nonfiction) book about a subject or person you've never heard of, and it is not only interesting but the writing is good. Major Taylor was such a book for me. I didn't know that bicycles and bicycle racing were all the rage in 1900. Nor did I know that there was a transcendent black athlete who experienced both the highs of popular adulation and the lows of widespread racism. I highly recommend this book.

Amazon verified purchase Feb 2021

One of the best books I've ever read!
It was difficult reading this book and not be filled with rage regarding what Major Taylor had to endure racing here in the US. And through it all, he maintained silence and endured all that the white racers/riders plotted against him. Only when he got outside the US in Europe and Australia where he was absolutely loved, admired, respected and treated equally did he learn and understand how his own country was so racist. To be allowed in countries throughout Europe and Australia to stay in 5 star hotels but then return to the US and be thrown out of every restaurant or hotel he tried to stay in upon his return...I sat up late at night many evenings with tears in my eyes and how much this man, who gave so much and got so little in return from the white cyclists he competed against in the US. How they conspired to do everything they could to actually hurt him physically during the races. This was one of those books I found myself lying in bed at night reading until 2 a.m.

It was without a doubt, one of the best books I've ever read in my life.

Thanks to the authors.

Amazon verified purchase June 2020

True Grit
I'd never heard of Major Taylor until I read the Kerber brother's great book about determination, perseverance, and self discipline rolled up into one amazing man. Despite encountering vicious and violent racism throughout his racing career, Taylor patiently tolerated the hate directed at him and stayed committed to his drive to become the world champion of bicycle racing. His strong Christian faith helped him to stay calm and forgive the abuse he received throughout his life.
Also amazing is the fact that Conrad and Terry Kerber, who had never written another book either before or after, took five years from their families and careers as financial advisors, to research (62 pages of sources) and write (339 pages) this terrific book. Kudos to the Kerbers!

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I confess to being a sucker for an inspirational story. However, Major Taylor is exceptional. Exquisitely written, so well researched, this book is about one of the most amazing athletes in American history. Unknown to me before reading the book, I was entranced by this story of a black man who overcame the extreme racial prejudice of his time (late 19th, early 20th century) to become the most famous cyclist in the world. At that time bike racing was the premiere sport and Major Taylor its hero. I cannot recommend this book more highly. You will be thankful that through the determination, courage and example of people such as Major Taylor we actually do live in a better world.

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I have read many books about Major Taylor, fascinated by every one. Yet this book is a step above the rest. It is a comprehensive and biographical look at Major while he was at the top of his sport. He was truly the first superstar with world-wide fame and acclaim. He raced in a time when bike racing was a key sport, against odd that pitted him against nearly every rival and he came out ahead. Again and again, in spite of all of his challenge and obstacles, he succeeded. As a great sportsman. And a great human being. I highly recommend this book. It is fantastic and so motivating. A must read. 

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An amazing book and man. This book would make a awesome movie, I see the images in my head. A racer that broke all barriers, all but forgotten.
Inspiring, sad, and real. Reads like a novel but is real life. Also you can see the kindness in others, the people that help him to push forward, without them he would have been another unfulfilled dream.

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An absolutely spectacular recounting of this incredible black bike rider, who once was the most famous athlete in the world. Everyone should know his story. What he was able to overcome is inspirational. We all ride on his shoulders. Conrad Kerber and Terry Kerber do a thorough and respectful job in detailing this historic tale as it’s both entertaining and educational. It reads like a historic novel.


Major Taylor makes your soul cry. Racism tries to destroy a champion of spirit. Very well written account of a man. The sport is well described in action and a read for every one.

Amazon January 11, 2019

One of the three most trusted essential readings on the subject of Major Taylor. 1) The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World: The Autobiography of Major Taylor by Major Taylor 2) Major Taylor: The Inspiring Story of a Black Cyclist and the Men Who Helped Him Achieve Worldwide Fame by Andrew Ritchie 3) Major Taylor: The Inspiring Story of a Black Cyclist and the Men Who Helped Him Achieve Worldwide Fame by Terry & Conrad Kerber, Foreword Greg LeMond. Period.

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This was a great book. A very interesting and little-known story, beautifully told by the authors. It's too bad there wasn't more info on his later life after cycling but in some ways I think it's a powerful contrast as well. Highly recommended for cyclists, history buffs, black history, or sports interested readers.

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The book entitled Major Taylor by Conrad and Terry Kerber is an incredible read. The Kerbers did a wonderful job crafting the book and meticulously researching Major Taylor’s life. Major Taylor was a phenomenon in the 1890s and became the first major black hero in America. His reputation soared internationally both in Europe and Australia. He was the dominant cyclist at a time when cycling was the predominant sport in America and Europee. Cycling races would draw 20,000+ fans to watch velodrome racing. Madison Square Garden hosted a grueling 6-day race of continuous riding with the winner decided by the number of miles cycled in 6 days on an indoor track. Major Taylor took only ~2 hours off each day to sleep and eat. There are so many amazing aspects of his story from his cycling prowess, his unmatched humility and his gift of forgiveness to hoards of white individuals who victimized him in ruthless racism. Major Taylor’s life was guided by his passion for cycling and his deep held Christian faith. It is no wonder so many people around the world respected him more for how he carried himself than his cycling power. This book is very captivating and a total joy to read. The only down side is that the book ends! What a wonderful read.

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Major Taylor is an exceptionally well-researched, documented, footnoted, and indexed biography of a brilliantly gifted athlete who defined and dominated the field of bicycle racing, holding both American and world titles in the waning years of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Marshall 'Major' Taylor's dreams of racing became reality in 1895 as the new sport overtook baseball, horse racing, tennis, and yachting in popularity. Taylor quite likely became the first athlete paid to endorse products. His fans included Ernest Hemingway, Bing Crosby, Cary Grant, Marlene Dietrich. Racing fan Toulouse-Lautrec was thought to have sketched portraits of one of Taylor's competitors.
For this reader the Taylor name moved from obscurity into fascination. A multi-faceted individual, ever the gentleman, ever the target of unmitigated racism, his name became synonymous with the sport. Authors (and brothers) Kerber and Kerber much to my delight reacquainted me with some long-unused vocab: persiflage, antipodean, pyrrhic, apostasy. And then, palmares (bike lingo---look it up!). Lastly, there was this humdinger: triskaidekaphobia.
I had not expected to physically feel the pace of the race or to be overwhelmed by the can't-put-it-down narrative style. This is an excellent read...
Major Taylor is so much more than just a story of a bicycle racer from long ago. It’s suspense-packed, page-turning nonfiction that feels like a novel.
— Harvey Mackay, author of the New York Times bestseller Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive

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One of the best books I’ve Read all year. Eye opening regarding racism in cycling history.

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Reading this book is like watching a historical, heart wrenching movie unfold in your mind! Taking place at a time when horse drawn carriages vied with bicyclists for transportation, the authors' over -the - top research plays out in vivid descriptions of Taylor's biking experiences, his climb to world fame, his unrelenting devotion to God and the bible, the people who helped him achieve success, and his fragmented private life. Once you start reading Taylor's story, you will not put it down until you are finished! Enjoy!

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A fascinating story, well researched and well told. Major Taylor stands head and shoulders above the wheelmen of his day: a role model for any day. There is much detail in this book, but it's never boring. Highly recommended.

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Highly recommend reading Major Taylor A Forgotten Legend by Conrad & Terry Kerber, forward by Greg Lemond. Excellent well researched book about Major Taylor with great insights into America's cycling craze from 1880s through the early 1900s as well as the trials of a religious black world champion of the time. Reads better than many best seller histories.

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Years ago I read the very well researched biography of Major Taylor by Andrew Ritchie, another five star book. This biography written by the Kerbers expands on the life of Taylor to further emphasize the racist environment in which Taylor lived: how he reacted, generally gracefully and with humility, sometimes quietly with anger when denied lodging in segregated hotels and restaurants, in spite of the fact that he was a world wide bicycle racing champion cheered by crowds in the tens of thousands. The other major expansion in the Kerber's biography is the story of the men who facilitated the path to Major Taylor's championships. Taylor's wealth came as a consequence the deals made by his sponsors and promoters, and of course as a consequence of his sheer physical abilities. The book tells the story with sensitivity and it frames Taylor's battles in the historical and cultural contexts of America, Europe and Australia at the turn of the twentieth century. Perhaps the mark of a good book is that it has to end when one could enthusiastically read more (there is the bibliography). On one of my transcontinental bicycle trips I will stop and look at the house at 4 Hobson Street, Worcester, MA, and think deeply about the incredible life of Major Taylor, a true sports champion. I'm also going to go to the local velodrome and try a few laps.
[Major Taylor’s] entire life story, deftly recited in all its drama by authors Conrad Kerber and Terry Kerber, is the stuff of legends…
— Greg LeMond, Cycling World Champion and three time winner of the Tour de France

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This book is a must-read for anyone interested in athletics (especially cycling of course) and of life as a Black man in America at the turn of the century. That the most famous athlete in the world is nearly forgotten today, is astounding. Especially given his unique story. The authors are to be commended for conveying the sense of the times, the thrill of the race, and the human condition in all its glory, tragedy, kindness and cruelty.

Amazon December 7th, 2018

As a native of Indianapolis who's family lived in the post WWII suburb of Eagledale on the city's NW side, I Ice skated on Lake Sullivan not far from my neighborhood. In1982, I think for the Pan Am games a velodrome was built right next to the lake. It was named The Major Taylor Velodrome. I had never heard of Major Taylor, but i learned that he we a black native of Indy who was a famous cyclist. That story was pretty incomplete and I always wanted to know more. Now I do! The authors have woven a very complete story of Major's life! Not just his sporting life but his life in total. From the racism he faced, to the short he forced from several white men through his career, to his personal life, to his life after racing, the story is complete, and very entertaining in it's telling! If i had a complaint, it would be that the authors were, at time, a little proud of their vocabulary! (I have a good vocabulary, but was glad i read this on a Kindle so I could look words up!) That said though, it didn't detect from the story! At the very least, the following purple will enjoy this book: People interested in sporting history, especially at y the turn of the century; people interested in the history of racism in that time; people interested in the industrial revolution; purple interested in bicycling; people interested in how people deal with racism; and just anyone who enjoys a good story! I am now extremely proud that the velodrome I occasionally drive by is named after Major Taylor!
An eloquently written story of a forgotten hero who’s name should now become known worldwide. This meticulously researched narrative brings back the larger-than-life characters of this forgotten era, highlighting a sport and an athlete that became the daily obsession for millions of Americans, Europeans and Australians. Major Taylor: The Inspiring Story of a Black Cyclist and the Men Who Helped Him Achieve Worldwide Fame is a wonderful reading history of track racing in all its glory, trauma, suspense and heartbreak.
— Phil Liggett, NBC cycling commentator, and the “Voice of Cycling
...Exceptional. Exquisitely written, so well researched, this book is about one of the most amazing athletes in American history. I was entranced by this story of a black man who overcame the extreme racial prejudice of his time. I cannot recommend this book more highly.You will be thankful that through the determination, courage and example of people such as Major Taylor we actually do live in a better world."
— Dave McNally-Author of Even Eagles Need a Push
“Major Taylor”... is a true page turner. We are there at the turn of the century in 1907 in the far different world of cycling. We are there where perhaps the greatest athlete in the world was not Ty Cobb or Cy Young but Major Taylor, a black man. He was the Jackie Robinson of his time—shattering barriers, succeeding despite horrific prejudice directed against him. The Kerbers have done the world a very good deed in writing this book. Detailed, emotional, heroic, “Major Taylor” is a significant work of non-fiction that reads like fiction. BELONGS ON YOUR SPORTSBOOKSHELF"
— Harvey Frommer, Contributor The Epoch Times
"The book is meticulously researched and gracefully written... [a] highly engaging look into a lost world"
— Amy Goetzman, Minnpost
The fact that the greatest living athlete in the world in 1907 was a bicyclist was enough to capture my attention. The dramatic story—and the heroic fable—that followed kept me turning pages. Major Taylor belongs in the pantheon of great bicycling literature.
— Dan Buettner. National Geographic fellow, New York Times bestselling author of Blue Zones, and three-time cycling world record holder.

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I was going to start this review by saying this is a must read for all sports fans, but it really is a must read for all Americans. This is the gripping story of Major Taylor, a man I knew very little about, yet he was one of the greatest athletes America ever produced, in a sport that most of us had no idea was so huge, track cycling. While the fact that he was an African American athlete wouldn't raise an eyebrow today, it certainly did during the time he lived and raced. As a matter of fact, he lived under extreme prejudice to the point that his competitors would try to do him bodily harm, and they often succeeded. Through all of it though, Major Taylor persevered with charm, grace, dignity, and an undying belief in himself, and the belief that he belonged on the race track with everyone else and that if he just kept racing, the racism would somehow go away. But Major also had a deep faith in God, and that above all, carried him through.

While much of this story is about a black athlete living and competing under a blanket of racism, there are stories of good too. Major met many white people that looked beyond the color of his skin, and saw the goodness of the man, and his outright speed on the track. They helped guide him to being only the second African American athlete to be a World Champion, but it was their love for the man that was first and for most in their eyes. In the end, Major looked beyond the racism and said that white folks had been the best friends he ever had in his life. Pretty incredible, considering all he endured.

The author does a wonderful job at capturing the feel of the times that Taylor lived. Most of us I think, have no idea what post Civil War to Depression Era America looked like or behaved. This author brings those times to life. His research of those times and Taylors life is exhaustive and comprehensive. This couldn't have been an easy task, as much of Taylors life, especially his later years, were a bit of a mystery, which is indeed sad. This a book you will not want to put down, and you will miss the characters and story once your done.

A Forgotten Legend? You bet he is. How is it that we all know about Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson and yet have never heard of Major Taylor, who was bigger in his time than either Jackie or Jessie were in there's? This book goes a long way towards changing that...
Perhaps the most important book ever written about cycling in America. Before Magic, before Ali, before Jesse Owens there was Major Taylor. A person who was truly born to ride! This is a must read by anyone interested in the transcendent power of the bicycle as a vehicle of real freedom. Long may Major Taylor's legend live.
— Bob Roll NBC cycling analyst and former professional cyclist
The Kerber’s reenact turn of the century events in captivating detail. The racing scenes are like none other in the annals of cycling authorship. It’s as if you are there, in the grandstands in 1901, feeling the gripping tension, smelling the leather saddle, seeing the strain of the riders every pedal stroke. Each breath of the racers becomes yours, charging toward the finish line and unprecedented fame.
— Paul Sherwen, NBC cycling analyst and former professional bicycle racer