Back in the days before TV and professional sports leagues, horse racing was America's passion. Washington University American culture studies professor Katherine Mooney's recently published book Race Horse Men: How Slavery and Freedom Were Made at the Racetrack revisits that era, but not to extoll the glamour and pageantry of the sport. Instead, she examines the lives of the black men who tended to, trained and raced horses for the enjoyment of white spectators in the nineteenth century. Mooney clearly illustrates the master and slave dynamic of the horse-racing industry during the antebellum and post-Emancipation eras, and details how race, privilege and agency determined the success of those immersed in the racetrack culture. She particularly focuses on how their triumphs and obstacles evolved with the rise of Jim Crow laws after emancipation, as the more successful black free agents were cast away, jobless and uprooted from their chosen trade. Mooney discusses and signs copies of Race Horse Men at 7 p.m.tonight at Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue; 314-367-6731 or www.left-bank.com). Admission is free.
Tue., May 27, 7 p.m., 2014