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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel

There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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4 Local Warehouse Games- Horse and Dog Racing

Seabiscuit: An American Legend


Seabiscuit: An American Legend Cover



Reading Group Guide

1. Seabiscuit grew so popular as a cultural icon that in 1938, he commanded

more space in American newspapers than any other public

figure. Considering the temper of the times as well as the horses

early career on the racetrack, what were the sources of The Biscuits

enormous popularity during that benchmark period of U.S. history?

Would he be as popular if he raced today? What did the public need

that it found in this horse?

2. The Great Match Race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral in 1938

evoked heated partisan passions. These passions spilled over on

radio and into the daily prints, with each colt leading a raucous

legion of followers to the barrier at Pimlico Race Course that autumn

day. What were the differences separating these two horses, and

what did each competitor represent in the American experience that

set one apart from the other?

3. All jockeys in the 1930s endured terrible hardships and hazards,

starving themselves to make weight, then competing in an exceptionally

dangerous sport. For George Woolf and Red Pollard, there

were additional factors that compounded the difficulties and dangers

of their jobs—diabetes for the former and half-blindness for the

latter. Why, in spite of this, did they go on with their careers? What

were the allures of race riding that led them to subject themselves to

such risk and torment?

4. What was the role of the press and radio in the Seabiscuit phenomenon?

How did Howard use the media to his advantage? How did

the media help Seabiscuits career, and how was it a hindrance?

5. Seabiscuit possessed all the qualities for which the Thoroughbred

has been prized since the English imported the breeds three foundation

sires from the Middle East three hundred years ago. What

were those qualities? What made this horse a winner?

6. Horses of Seabiscuits stature, from Man o War in the 1920s to

Cigar in the 1990s, have always generated a powerful gravitational

field of their own, attracting crowds of people into their immediate

orbit, shaping relationships among them, and even affecting the

personalities of those nearest them. How did Seabiscuit shape and

influence the lives of those around him?

7. Red Pollard, Tom Smith, and Charles Howard formed an unlikely

partnership. In what ways were these men different? How did their

differences serve as an asset to them?

8. What critical attribute did Howard, Smith, and Pollard share? How

did this shared attribute serve as a key to their success?

9. In what ways was each man in the Seabiscuit partnership similar, in

his own way, to Seabiscuit himself? How did these similarities help

them cultivate the horses talents and cure his ailments and neuroses?

10. What lessons can be drawn from the successes of the Seabiscuit

team? What does their story say about the role of character in life?

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

An American Legend
Hillenbrand, Laura
Random House
New York
United states
United States - 20th Century
Horse racing
Race horses
Seabiscuit (Race horse)
Race horses -- United States.
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9.54x6.54x1.29 in. 1.65 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Hobbies, Crafts, and Leisure » Games » Horse Racing
Hobbies, Crafts, and Leisure » Games » Horse and Dog Racing
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Miscellaneous Sports
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Sports General

Seabiscuit: An American Legend Used Hardcover
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$5.50 In Stock
Product details 416 pages RANDOM HOUSE TRADE - English 9780375502910 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , 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 Seabiscuits 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.

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