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The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation

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The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation Cover

ISBN13: 9780345521088
ISBN10: 0345521080
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

November 1958: the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Into the rarefied atmosphere of wealth and tradition comes the most unlikely of horses—a drab white former plow horse named Snowman—and his rider, Harry de Leyer. They were the longest of all longshots—and their win was the stuff of legend.

 

Harry de Leyer first saw the horse he would name Snowman on a bleak winter afternoon between the slats of a rickety truck bound for the slaughterhouse. He recognized the spark in the eye of the beaten-up horse and bought him for eighty dollars. On Harry’s modest farm on Long Island, the horse thrived. But the recent Dutch immigrant and his growing family needed money, and Harry was always on the lookout for the perfect thoroughbred to train for the show-jumping circuit—so he reluctantly sold Snowman to a farm a few miles down the road.

 

But Snowman had other ideas about what Harry needed. When he turned up back at Harry’s barn, dragging an old tire and a broken fence board, Harry knew that he had misjudged the horse. And so he set about teaching this shaggy, easygoing horse how to fly. One show at a time, against extraordinary odds and some of the most expensive thoroughbreds alive, the pair climbed to the very top of the sport of show jumping.

 

Here is the dramatic and inspiring rise to stardom of an unlikely duo, based on the insight and recollections of “the Flying Dutchman” himself. Their story captured the heart of Cold War–era America—a story of unstoppable hope, inconceivable dreams, and the chance to have it all. Elizabeth Letts’s message is simple: Never give up, even when the obstacles seem sky-high. There is something extraordinary in all of us.

Review:

"Letts (Quality of Care) raises expectations in her newest book by claiming national inspiration in the subtitle. Snowman was a plow horse bought off the slaughter truck for by Danish immigrant Harry de Leyer. Snowman's appearance masked superior jumping talents, and de Leyer took him to the top of the 'expensive.... equestrian world was one of the last bastions of the upper-class elite.' The events occurred in the late 1950s and early 1960s; however, Letts doesn't quite establish the context, and it's not clear how a horse provided inspiration for workers 'starved for dreams' amid 'terrifying fears of nuclear age tensions.' Diversions such as the decline of the American horse population offer little insight, and nonequestrians will occasionally be puzzled by the lingo, particularly with respect to equine anatomy. Still, Letts is a solid prose stylist; her vivid descriptions of staid Long Island with its 'gentle meadows ringed by dogwood trees' provide virtual tours, but it is de Leyer's realization of the American dream that is the real story. Photos. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Letts is the award-winning author of two novels, Quality of Care and Family Planning, and one children’s book, The Butter Man. Quality of Care was a Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, and Books-A-Million Book Club selection. An equestrian from childhood, Letts represented California as a junior equestrian, and was runner-up in the California Horse and Rider of the Year competition. She currently lives with her husband and four children in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

NANCY HAYDEN, January 4, 2012 (view all comments by NANCY HAYDEN)
The Eighty Dollar Horse underscores a timeless theme - an underdog competes with the best of the best and wins. We are the true winners because it lifts our hearts and gives us a reason to cheer. It belongs on the shelf next to Secretariat and Seabiscuit and for all of those who are horse lovers, we get to learn something about the sport of jumping.
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gaby317, October 17, 2011 (view all comments by gaby317)
The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse that Inspired a Nation by Elizabeth Letts
ISBN-10: 0345521080 - Hardcover $26.00
Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 23, 2011), 352 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

In The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman the Horse That Inspired a Nation, Letts give us the well researched and moving story of Harry De Leyer and Snowman, the horse that he saved, and a glimpse into US history during the 40s and 50s.

If World War II hadn't happened, Harry De Leyer certainly would have had an easier life. He had come from a wealthy brewing family but with Nazi occupation, Harry's father joined the local Resistance. As a young boy, Harry drove a wagon bringing contraband to other families past German soldiers. The end of World War II left the De Leyer family with much of their wealth destroyed with the buildings burned down and much of their assets confiscated. After the War, Harry and his wife came to America hoping to build a new life with only $160. It was through acts of kindness that Harry connected with an American family and found his first job on a tobacco farm in North Carolina.

Letts meticulously covered what it was like for the De Leyers. Even as a tobacco farmer at a time of mechanization when horses were less available and less used, Harry still found a way to connect to a horse. As Harry gradually made it to the Knox School, we see how Harry took risks and made his own luck. Lett also shows how Harry was the sort of teacher that we all remember - he always saw the best in the girls. He encouraged courage and success, lead by example and kindness.

The story of Harry and Snowman is a real life Black Beauty sort of story. It's the sort of story that leaves an animal lover like me in tears. Harry is late to the local horse auction and the only horses left are those allocated to the slaughterhouse. The butcher's rep is willing to show Harry the horses. Snowman looks like a very thin plow horse with scars but with a good temperament. Somehow, Snowman and Harry connect. Harry is low on funds and is only able to offer a $20 profit to the butcher's rep.

The De Leyers open their hearts to Snowman and his gentle temperament was perfect as a teaching horse. The story moves along well as we learn about the Knox School, Harry De Leyer and his unlikely champion. Harry discovers Snowman's jumping talent when the horse keeps coming back home. Each story about Snowman makes clear that this horse has uncommon "bottom" -- the heart to succeed. At a time when the workingclass American has little to look forward to, Snowman and Harry De Leyer win the country's imagination. The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse that Inspired a Nation is an engrossing and moving read. It's a wonderful story and I'm so glad that Elizabeth Letts shared Harry and Snowman's story. We can do with stories and heroes with bottom.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780345521088
Subtitle:
Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation
Author:
Letts, Elizabeth
Publisher:
Ballantine Books
Subject:
Horses - Riding
Subject:
PETS / Horses/General
Subject:
Pets-Horses Miscellaneous Activities
Subject:
Equestrian
Publication Date:
20110823
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
38 PHOTOS THRU/OUT
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
9.52 x 6.35 x 1.12 in 1.34 lb

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The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation Used Hardcover
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Product details 352 pages Ballantine Books - English 9780345521088 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Letts (Quality of Care) raises expectations in her newest book by claiming national inspiration in the subtitle. Snowman was a plow horse bought off the slaughter truck for by Danish immigrant Harry de Leyer. Snowman's appearance masked superior jumping talents, and de Leyer took him to the top of the 'expensive.... equestrian world was one of the last bastions of the upper-class elite.' The events occurred in the late 1950s and early 1960s; however, Letts doesn't quite establish the context, and it's not clear how a horse provided inspiration for workers 'starved for dreams' amid 'terrifying fears of nuclear age tensions.' Diversions such as the decline of the American horse population offer little insight, and nonequestrians will occasionally be puzzled by the lingo, particularly with respect to equine anatomy. Still, Letts is a solid prose stylist; her vivid descriptions of staid Long Island with its 'gentle meadows ringed by dogwood trees' provide virtual tours, but it is de Leyer's realization of the American dream that is the real story. Photos. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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