Columbus: Michael Kranish on The World's Fastest Man
Join us at Book Culture on Columbus on Thursday, May 16th at 7pm as we welcome Michael Kranish for a discussion on his new book, The World's Fastest Man: The Extraordinary Life of Cyclist Major Taylor, America's First Black Sports Hero.
In the tradition of The Boys in the Boat and Seabiscuit, a fascinating portrait of a groundbreaking but forgotten figure—the remarkable Major Taylor, the black man who broke racial barriers by becoming the world’s fastest and most famous bicyclist at the height of the Jim Crow era.
In the 1890s, the nation’s promise of equality had failed spectacularly. While slavery had ended with the Civil War, the Jim Crow laws still separated blacks from whites, and the excesses of the Gilded Age created an elite upper class. Amidst this world arrived Major Taylor, a young black man who wanted to compete in the nation’s most popular and mostly white man’s sport, cycling. Birdie Munger, a white cyclist who once was the world’s fastest man, declared that he could help turn the young black athlete into a champion.
Twelve years before boxer Jack Johnson and fifty years before baseball player Jackie Robinson, Taylor faced racism at nearly every turn—especially by whites who feared he would disprove their stereotypes of blacks. In The World’s Fastest Man, years in the writing, investigative journalist Michael Kranish reveals new information about Major Taylor based on a rare interview with his daughter and other never-before-uncovered details from Taylor’s life. Kranish shows how Taylor indeed became a world champion, traveled the world, was the toast of Paris, and was one of the most chronicled black men of his day.
From a moment in time just before the arrival of the automobile when bicycles were king, the populace was booming with immigrants, and enormous societal changes were about to take place, The World’s Fastest Man shines a light on a dramatic moment in American history—the gateway to the twentieth century.
Michael Kranish is one of the country’s preeminent investigative reporters. He has worked at The Miami Herald, the Boston Globe, where he was the Washington Correspondent, and, since 2016, at The Washington Post, where he has reported extensively on Donald Trump. He is also the author or co-author of John Kerry: The Boston Globe Biography, Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War; The Real Romney, and, with Marc Fisher, the New York Times best-selling Trump Revealed, the deeply researched biography of Donald Trump published in the summer of 2016. For more information, please visit www.michaelkranish.com.