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Review of Charles Kastner's "The 1929 Bunion Derby, Johnny Salo and the Great Footrace Across America"
After winning the 1992 Runner's World, 3,000 Mile, Trans America Footrace, I never thought anyone who hadn't raced across the United States could adequately capture the essence of the race and the daily grind of its competitors. I was wrong.
Charles Kastner, in his "The 1929 Bunion Derby, Johnny Salo and the Great Footrace Across America" (and previously in his, "Bunion Derby, The 1928 Footrace Across America"), tells these incredible stories, and makes you feel as if you're in one of the race's touring cars, following the runners, each and every day.
Kastner describes one of the most outlandish events of our country's Roaring Twenty's period, where people didn't have NCIS, CSI, Desperate Housewives, or Monday Night Football. This epic event pitted a pioneering group of adventurous individuals, running and racing against each other, coast to coast, for fun, challenge, and prizes up to $25,000 (for winning). "The 1929 Bunion Derby" captures the excitement and uniqueness of it all.
I was impressed by how the book paints the back and forth, three thousand mile, battle between Johnny Salo, Pete Gavuzzi, and a number of other challengers. As a runner and writer, Kastner impressively and accurately understands the minds of the racers, their crews, and their inherent strategies. And I should know, having crossed the country as the 1929 racers did, only 61 years removed.
One of the hidden delights of the book, though, is the impressive historical research, illustrations, and detailed appendices of race statistics. I felt like I was taking a memorable walk back in time in our country's history. Without a doubt, it's a book that will inspire and capture the interest of the runner, athlete, adventurer, and historian alike. I highly recommend it without reservation.
David Warady, 1992 TransAmerica Champion