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Seabiscuit: An American Legendby Laura Hillenbrand
Synopses & Reviews
Seabiscuit was one of the most electrifying and popular attractions in sports history and the single biggest newsmaker in the world in 1938, receiving more coverage than FDR, Hitler, or Mussolini. But his success was a surprise to the racing establishment, which had written off the crooked-legged racehorse with the sad tail. Three men changed Seabiscuit?s fortunes:
Charles Howard was a onetime bicycle repairman who introduced the automobile to the western United States and became an overnight millionaire. When he needed a trainer for his new racehorses, he hired Tom Smith, a mysterious mustang breaker from the Colorado plains. Smith urged Howard to buy Seabiscuit for a bargain-basement price, then hired as his jockey Red Pollard, a failed boxer who was blind in one eye, half-crippled, and prone to quoting passages from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Over four years, these unlikely partners survived a phenomenal run of bad fortune, conspiracy, and severe injury to transform Seabiscuit from a neurotic, pathologically indolent also-ran into an American sports icon.
Author Laura Hillenbrand brilliantly re-creates a universal underdog story, one that proves life is a horse race.
"The heart of its appeal...is its seamless combination of triumph and melancholy. Like any great success story, Seabiscuit is ultimately sad. Glory always burns brightly and briefly, and the racing life of a horse (and Seabiscuit's was longer than most) is even briefer than most kinds of success.....And so it's when he's retired, and the principals go their separate ways, that the book becomes most like a love song, reveling in the exquisite sadness of knowing you held something in your hands only to see it scatter to the winds." Charles Taylor, Salon.com
"[T]he tale remains enticing: 'runty' horse, expansive millionaire owner, laconic trainer and half-blind jockey combining to create a legend just when America needed one." The Guardian (UK)
"Seabiscuit is one memorable read." William Nack, Sports Illustrated
"A great ride." Kirkus Reviews
"Gifted sportswriter Hillenbrand unearths the rarefied world of thoroughbred horse racing in this captivating account of one of the sport's legends." Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Terrific....Seabiscuit brings alive the drama, the beauty, the louche charm and the brutality of horseracing." Deirdre Donahue, USA Today
"A remarkable tale....Seabiscuit should captivate a new generation of readers from beyond the world of horse racing." The Economist
"Terrific writing....A fascinating account of one of the sport's most alluring icons." Debra Ginsberg, San Diego Union Tribune
"Captivating....[A] flawless trip, with the detail of good history, the blistering pas of Biscuit...and the charm of a grand legend." Jim Squires, The New York Times Book Review
"Seabiscuit's triumph remains a terrifically appealing Cinderella story but it's Hillenbrand's instinctual feel for the drama of the sport and her formidable literary talents that bring the tale to life." W Magazine
"This is more than a fine piece of writing about the sport of racing; it is also about our history. I wish all sportswriters could write like this." Stephen Ambrose
"There have been numerous biographies of famous horses, but this one is the best by open lengths..." Booklist, starred review
"In telling the Cinderella story of Seabiscuit and his devoted trainer, owner and jockey, the author, Laura Hillenbrand, has written an absorbing book that stands as the model of sportswriting at its best." Michiko Kakutani, New York Times Book Review
"Laura Hillenbrand knows racehorses, riders, and trainers. She knows our history. She knows how the two combine. Seabiscuit was a great horse, perhaps the best ever, running in one of the worst decades ever, the Great Depression, bringing excitement and pleasure to millions of Americans when they needed those emotions desperately. This is more than a fine piece of writing about the sport of racing; it is also about our history. I wish all sportswriters could write like this." Stephen Ambrose, author of Undaunted Courage
Hillenbrand's riveting about underdog racehorse Seabiscuit is now a major motion picture from Universal, starring Tobey Maguire, Chris Cooper, Jeff Bridges, and William H. Macy. Directed by Gary Ross ("Pleasantville").
The author retraces the amazing journey of Seabiscuit, a horse with crooked legs and a pathetic tail that nevertheless made racing history in 1938, thanks to the efforts of a trainer, an owner, and a jockey who transformed a bottom-level racehorse into a legend. Reader's Guide included. Reprint.
Fascinating . . . Vivid . . . A first-rate piece of storytelling, leaving us not only with a vivid portrait of a horse but a fascinating slice of American history as well.
-The New York Times
Engrossing . . . Fast-moving . . . More than just a horse's tale, because the humans who owned, trained, and rode Seabiscuit are equally fascinating. . . . Hillenbrand] shows an extraordinary talent for describing a horse race so vividly that the reader feels like the rider.
REMARKABLE . . . MEMORABLE . . . JUST AS COMPELLING TODAY AS IT WAS IN 1938.
-The Washington Post
From the Trade Paperback edition.
About the Author
Laura Hillenbrand has been writing about history and thoroughbred racing since 1988 and has been a contributing writer/editor at Equus magazine since 1989. Her work has also appeared in American Heritage, ABC Sports Online, Thoroughbred Times, Talk, and many other publications. Her 1998 American Heritage article on Seabiscuit won the Eclipse Award for magazine writing. She is currently serving as a consultant on a Universal Pictures movie based on this book. She lives in Washington, DC.
Table of Contents
Machine generated contents note: PART I — 1. The Day of the Horse Is Past 3 — 2. The Lone Plainsman 19 — 3. Mean, Restive, and Ragged 31 — 4. The Cougar and the Iceman 49 — 5. A Boot on One Foot, a Toe Tag on the Other 65 — 6. Light and Shadow 83 — PART II — 7. Learn Your Horse 99 — 8. Fifteen Strides 113 — 9. Gravity 127 — 10. War Admiral 141 — 11. No Pollard, No Seabiscuit 155 — 12. All I Need Is Luck 173 — 13. Hardball 183 — 14. The Wise We Boys 199 — 15. Fortune's Fool 217 — 16. I Know My Horse 229 — 17. The Dingbustingest Contest You Ever Clapped an Eye On 239 — 18. Deal 251 — 19. The Second Civil War 265 — PART III — 20. "All Four of His Legs Are Broken" 281 — 21. A Long, Hard Pull 295 — 22. Four Good Legs Between Us 303 — 23. One Hundred Grand 317.
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