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Seabiscuit: Three Men and a Racehorse

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30 review for Seabiscuit: Three Men and a Racehorse

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    I have been known to bet a couple of bucks on a horse race or two. I lived in Kentucky for about 10 years where horse racing is king. Now I live within a couple of hours of close to a dozen horse tracks - including Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. Because of all this, I figured I might be interested in the biography of one of history's most famous horses. I was definitely satisfied with the experience! The story of Seabiscuit reads like it was written for Hollywood and plays out like I have been known to bet a couple of bucks on a horse race or two. I lived in Kentucky for about 10 years where horse racing is king. Now I live within a couple of hours of close to a dozen horse tracks - including Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. Because of all this, I figured I might be interested in the biography of one of history's most famous horses. I was definitely satisfied with the experience! The story of Seabiscuit reads like it was written for Hollywood and plays out like almost every emotional sports story ever. Humble beginnings, Scrappy, unlikely heroes, successes, adversity, failure, no hope, recovery, and final ultimate triumph - all these elements are here! You will be amazed, you will be moved, you will be yelling at each horse race retelling, cheering of Seabiscuit to succeed. In the end, I can 99% guarantee you will be exhausted and satisfied. While it did not bother me, there is an awful lot about horse racing and horse training. If these things do not interest you, you may find some parts slow. Luckily for me, I was enthralled with horse training and the finer points of horse racing much more that I ever thought I would be. If you enjoy a good sports story, if you like stories about the underdog becoming the champion, or if you enjoy books with a good history lesson, it is definitely worth giving Seabiscuit a try!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie "Jedigal"

    Prior to November 2003, non-fiction only entered my reading choices on sporadic occasions. In November 2003, a pioneering member of my book club was the first to choose a non-fiction book instead of a novel. That book was Seabiscuit. Even though I have always loved horses, I had avoided reading Seabiscuit. I just couldn't believe that all the hype was real. So many times I had picked up a non-fiction book on a topic that I was really curious about, and either put it down unfinished or forced Prior to November 2003, non-fiction only entered my reading choices on sporadic occasions. In November 2003, a pioneering member of my book club was the first to choose a non-fiction book instead of a novel. That book was Seabiscuit. Even though I have always loved horses, I had avoided reading Seabiscuit. I just couldn't believe that all the hype was real. So many times I had picked up a non-fiction book on a topic that I was really curious about, and either put it down unfinished or forced myself to slog through it. Despite my interest in the subject matter, the writing would drive me crazy - too technical, too boring, too text-book like. In fact, as one of those over-achieving students who always completed college reading assignments, I would have to say that many textbooks were actually better reads than the average non-fiction offering on store shelves. Seabiscuit, I was happy to find, was a complete surprise. The hype was real. No wonder it had sold so many copies. It really does read like a novel, and yet it is so deep - Ms. Hillenbrand has really explored her topic thoroughly and passes on all the details to us. There is a section where she describes the jockeys' experience of riding in a race that is one of the best pieces of prose I have ever, and will ever, read. I read it over and over. It's so visceral, she really puts you in the saddle, plus the prose is beautiful in and of itself. Another reason for the success of this novel is her success at placing the events in their historical context. She not only puts you in the saddle, she takes you back in time. This was one of the universally best-received choices we've read in book club. Everyone loved it, whether or not they cared at all about horses or sports. And ever since then, I've given non-fiction more chances, and with better luck, than ever before. Sometimes I still put one down unfinished, but now that I know how they can be, I try more often. I highly recommend Seabiscuit to any of the following people: anyone who has the slightest interest in horses or sports, anyone who thinks jockeys have an easy job, anyone interested in American history, anyone with no interest in horses who just loves good writing, anyone who thinks non-fiction is dull and would welcome a surprise, and EVERYONE ELSE! :o) ========================== Update, 2011 Just finished reading for the second time, this time aloud. Still LOVE this book. And while reading aloud (which really makes you take your time!) I was powerfully struck again by the Ms. Hillenbrand's facility with language - to say she has "a way with words" is entirely inadequate to express the beauty and expressiveness of her writing. But although beautiful, please don't think her writing might be too "prosy" - it is NOT unnecessarily flowery or overbearing. Seabiscuit is simply a fabulous read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nat

    4.5 stars What a remarkable story! Brilliant once it got going, and wonderfully crafted by Laura Hillenbrand. I learned a lot about horses and racing. And that jockeys are badass! 4.5 stars What a remarkable story! Brilliant once it got going, and wonderfully crafted by Laura Hillenbrand. I learned a lot about horses and racing. And that jockeys are badass! 🏇

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dean

    Welcome to the sparkling, colorful and vibrant world of racehorses and tournaments with his legends, dramas and passions.... located in the USA of the nineteenth twenties ....... Openly speaking, friends, let me say that I would never have pick up a book about racehorses and only because of the greats and awesome reviews at goodreads, and also because Laura Hillenbrand was the author, did I in the end made my mind up to read this one......and thanks God that I did!!!!! Let me tell you also that Welcome to the sparkling, colorful and vibrant world of racehorses and tournaments with his legends, dramas and passions.... located in the USA of the nineteenth twenties ....... Openly speaking, friends, let me say that I would never have pick up a book about racehorses and only because of the greats and awesome reviews at goodreads, and also because Laura Hillenbrand was the author, did I in the end made my mind up to read this one......and thanks God that I did!!!!! Let me tell you also that this book is written brilliantly and masterly, believe me folks, if I say that you will not be able to put it down, its not an exaggeration at all..... Then if you will include the fact that Hillenbrand was severely sick at the time she wrote it and has rendered indeed a marvelous and thoroughly researched piece of work, then you will be left dumbfounded to the uttermost. Also, I have learned a lot about horses, jockeys, tournaments, competitions, and the feeling that existed in the America of the depression era, people trying to recuperate from a financial depression and a war going on!!!! Having said that, it remains still a tale of resilience, fight, and the story of an underdog--what in my opinion is almost always a good one, indeed-- The main characters arouse empathy, so that you will suffer with them, although they are full of flaws and defects, but they never give up!!!! Please, let me say it again, Laura Hillenbrand can indeed write, and that very very good!!!!! Believe me..... "Seabiscuit" has reminded me positively of her other book "unbroken"...... A wonderful and an inspiring tale, I did love and enjoy it to the uttermost indeed...... Five stars, and happy about that!!!!! Dean;D

  5. 4 out of 5

    Swaps55

    I'm jealous of this woman, because she writes better than I do. I've always been a little snobby towards Seabiscuit, as I'm a devoted War Admiral fan, but this is probably the best book out there that really captures the essence of horse racing, and she picked the right horse to do it with. This story is not just about Seabiscuit. It's also about humanity, and most importantly (to me), racing itself, as it was in the 1930s. You will be astonished at what you learn from this book, from the I'm jealous of this woman, because she writes better than I do. I've always been a little snobby towards Seabiscuit, as I'm a devoted War Admiral fan, but this is probably the best book out there that really captures the essence of horse racing, and she picked the right horse to do it with. This story is not just about Seabiscuit. It's also about humanity, and most importantly (to me), racing itself, as it was in the 1930s. You will be astonished at what you learn from this book, from the incredible hardships jockies are willing to endure for love of their sport to the unique "underworld" that exists behind the scenes. Her research is extensive and meticulous, her writing style engaging and honest. She brings this whole world to life, and I'm thrilled that such a window into the sport that I love has been opened for the average person who knows nothing about it, nor has probably ever wondered or cared.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Can I give this 6 stars please!!! Such a moving story!! Wonderful! Full of heart! Amazing! I simply just adore it!! And it was even better than the movie! Which should really tell you something since I probably know that movie by heart, having already seen it 6 times till now. Seabiscuit is the best!!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Angela M

    I don't read very much non- fiction but I just loved this !

  8. 5 out of 5

    Atishay

    A true inspirational story about broken hearts and lost souls, the golden thread that holds them together and yes.. belief. Belief in oneself. A horse, trained to lose right from its birth. Lose so that others can look good when they win. Lose, so that when they win, they can look back and see others way behind. A horse, which has learned to live with pain and humiliation. A horse, which is angry. It is this horse that catches the eye of Tom Smith, a veteran horse trainer employed under Charles A true inspirational story about broken hearts and lost souls, the golden thread that holds them together and yes.. belief. Belief in oneself. A horse, trained to lose right from its birth. Lose so that others can look good when they win. Lose, so that when they win, they can look back and see others way behind. A horse, which has learned to live with pain and humiliation. A horse, which is angry. It is this horse that catches the eye of Tom Smith, a veteran horse trainer employed under Charles Howard, a broken industrialist who has lost his young son. Tom Smith realizes what the horse has been put through to and begins to heal it and make it start believing in itself. Enters Red Pollard, a loser jockey employed under Charles Howard too. The story then moves on to the relationship that Red Pollard and the horse share, the way they start to heal each other and what common things they find between themselves. Beautifully written and amazingly uplifting!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Rosenberg

    Laura Hillenbrand breathes life and intimate detail to the world of horse racing. I loved Sea Biscuit, the underdog, who prevailed to a hero. Laura writes non-fiction like the best fiction, and I appreciate the way she makes it real. Because of Seabisquit, I have attended horse races! And even bet! The latest race was the Breeders Cup at Del Mar, and the horse I bet on, (One Wild Broad?) won! What a thrill! Rebecca Rosenberg THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON The Secret Life of Mrs. London Please Laura Hillenbrand breathes life and intimate detail to the world of horse racing. I loved Sea Biscuit, the underdog, who prevailed to a hero. Laura writes non-fiction like the best fiction, and I appreciate the way she makes it real. Because of Seabisquit, I have attended horse races! And even bet! The latest race was the Breeders Cup at Del Mar, and the horse I bet on, (One Wild Broad?) won! What a thrill! Rebecca Rosenberg THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON The Secret Life of Mrs. London Please FOLLOW! https://www.facebook.com/rebeccarosen... https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072KRP7MN http://www.rebecca-rosenberg.com

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Wells

    Growing up in Louisville, Ky and loving the derby reading this was a given. It being so extremely great was a bonus. Re read 2015 enjoyed it even more

  11. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    This was, truly, "fast-paced non-fiction." This book galloped along with all the speed of the horse it followed, which I find rare for books that simply relate a true story. Hillenbrand did a fantastic job giving a straightforward account of the history and background of Seabiscuit and the people around him, yet not once did she stoop to sounding like a pedantic authority on the subject. This book had all the tone and pace of great novels I've read, but it was so interesting to keep reminding This was, truly, "fast-paced non-fiction." This book galloped along with all the speed of the horse it followed, which I find rare for books that simply relate a true story. Hillenbrand did a fantastic job giving a straightforward account of the history and background of Seabiscuit and the people around him, yet not once did she stoop to sounding like a pedantic authority on the subject. This book had all the tone and pace of great novels I've read, but it was so interesting to keep reminding myself that it actually happened! If you enjoyed the movie, you will definitely enjoy the book. The movie did a great job capturing what Hillenbrand did, with applaudingly similar style, but it couldn't have captured all the depth and side-stories that the book offered. I was initially worried that I would be forced to superimpose the faces from the movie onto the characters I was reading about, but the deftly-placed pictures in the book helped me get over that quickly. All in all, a fantastic book. Highly recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I've had this on my TBR for ages but never got to it but I'm so glad that I finally did! First - I should note that I have absolutely NO INTEREST in horses or horse racing. In fact, I would say that the idea of a book about horses and horse racing makes me want to roll my eyes out of boredom. And then came along Laura Hillenbrand!!! It is her writing that really makes this book special - That makes it about more than a horse or a race or a sport. She makes the people and places come alive on I've had this on my TBR for ages but never got to it but I'm so glad that I finally did! First - I should note that I have absolutely NO INTEREST in horses or horse racing. In fact, I would say that the idea of a book about horses and horse racing makes me want to roll my eyes out of boredom. And then came along Laura Hillenbrand!!! It is her writing that really makes this book special - That makes it about more than a horse or a race or a sport. She makes the people and places come alive on each page. She made me CARE about what I was certain that I would never care about! She kept me turning the page late into the night when I really should have gone to sleep. I definitely recommend this book to anyone that enjoys good, solid writing and wants to be swept away by a fantastic story!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jay Pruitt

    “In 1938... the year's #1 newsmaker was not FDR, Hitler, or Mussolini. Nor was it Lou Gehrig or Clark Gable. The subject of the most newspaper column inches in 1938 wasn't even a person. It was an undersized, crooked-legged racehorse named Seabiscuit.” America loves an underdog. Such is the case of Seabiscuit. Yes, he was an amazing athlete. But, more than anything else, he became a favorite because pound-for-pound Seabuscuit may have been the greatest racehorse ever. He was only 15 hands tall, “In 1938... the year's #1 newsmaker was not FDR, Hitler, or Mussolini. Nor was it Lou Gehrig or Clark Gable. The subject of the most newspaper column inches in 1938 wasn't even a person. It was an undersized, crooked-legged racehorse named Seabiscuit.” America loves an underdog. Such is the case of Seabiscuit. Yes, he was an amazing athlete. But, more than anything else, he became a favorite because pound-for-pound Seabuscuit may have been the greatest racehorse ever. He was only 15 hands tall, just slightly taller than a pony. Standing next to other great thoroughbreds, Seabiscuit looked like the runt of the litter. Yet he would go on to shatter track records. Seabiscuit was generally unruly and at one point the owner couldn't find anyone to take the horse off his hands as a gift. He appeared to be both slow and dangerous, hardly the traits one looks for in a racehorse. But Seabiscuit just needed the right trainer and the right jockey. Tom Smith and Red Pollard knew how to understand Seabiscuit, and life-long bonds were established. Maybe the biggest race ever, and certainly the biggest sporting event for that time, happened in 1938 when two great rivals, Seabiscuit and War Admiral, met at Pimlico for a "match race" between these champions. Over 40 million people, including FDR, tuned in their radio to listen to the race. This event pitted David against Goliath, and the odds were stacked against the smaller horse. It was also a story of East vs West; at that time, everyone thought the "real" races occurred in the east. Seabiscuit raced on the upstart racetracks at Santa Anita (Pasadena) and Del Mar (San Diego). It was a story of old money vs. new money. Seabiscuit would go on to set the track record that day by beating War Admiral, direct descendent of the famed Man o' War, by an incredible four links. I was surprised how interesting this book turned out to be. Not one to watch horseraces, although I've been known to show up at a party or two to watch the Kentucky Derby, I was taken in by the described "personalities" of these great animals. I learned there actually has to be a marriage of sorts between horse and rider - not just anyone can jump on a fast horse and expect to win. The horse must want to run for the rider, and the rider must encourage the competitive spirits of the horse. Fascinating.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christie Bogle

    okay, so can I admit that I was weeping at the open of this book? I know, it is stupid. I love animals, and horses in particular, way too much. However, this book was opened so powerfully, I don't know if I can blame my love of animals for my tears this time around. Very well written for pleasure reading and captures the fanfare that was really a part of this horse. I let my grandmother tell me the whole story of how the world was divided as much by the rivalries between fans of Seabiscuit and okay, so can I admit that I was weeping at the open of this book? I know, it is stupid. I love animals, and horses in particular, way too much. However, this book was opened so powerfully, I don't know if I can blame my love of animals for my tears this time around. Very well written for pleasure reading and captures the fanfare that was really a part of this horse. I let my grandmother tell me the whole story of how the world was divided as much by the rivalries between fans of Seabiscuit and fans of War Admiral. It was definately the biggest sport on radio at the time. What a nice thing to get to share with her before she passed on the following year!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Just arrived from USA through BM. Since I absolutely loved Unbroken, I decided to read LH's famous book after have watched the movie based on this book a long time ago. The main characters, Charles Howard, Red Pollard and Tom Smith are entwined into Seabiscuit's career and the book shows how his life changed their own lives forever. Even if it's a non-fiction book, Hillenbrand knows how to give a true fictional character to the narrative itself, putting her own heart on it. I am looking forward for Just arrived from USA through BM. Since I absolutely loved Unbroken, I decided to read LH's famous book after have watched the movie based on this book a long time ago. The main characters, Charles Howard, Red Pollard and Tom Smith are entwined into Seabiscuit's career and the book shows how his life changed their own lives forever. Even if it's a non-fiction book, Hillenbrand knows how to give a true fictional character to the narrative itself, putting her own heart on it. I am looking forward for her third book which I hope will come pretty soon.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sharyl

    This was a VERY interesting and engrossing read. There's lots of information not just about horse racing, but also about the events and times of the 1930's. And Laura Hillenbrand describes the races so well that she had me on the edge of my seat. All the characters are described vividly, and I cared for all of them.

  17. 4 out of 5

    JG (The Introverted Reader)

    Seabiscuit. An American Legend. I think the only reason I even know the horse's name is because of the movie they filmed a few years ago. I'm obviously not a horse-racing fan, right? I don't even remember why I grabbed this at a library book sale. A friend here on GR must have given it a good review. But I am so glad I read this. I've gotten much better about reading non-fiction over the past six months, but I was amazed at what a page-turner this was for me. I've been reading non-fiction before Seabiscuit. An American Legend. I think the only reason I even know the horse's name is because of the movie they filmed a few years ago. I'm obviously not a horse-racing fan, right? I don't even remember why I grabbed this at a library book sale. A friend here on GR must have given it a good review. But I am so glad I read this. I've gotten much better about reading non-fiction over the past six months, but I was amazed at what a page-turner this was for me. I've been reading non-fiction before bed, thinking that would be a good time to squeeze it in because I wouldn't have to worry too much about getting caught up in the story and staying up all night. Bad move with this book. I was doing the "one more chapter" thing quite a bit. It was just a perfect mix of an underdog story and excellent writing. Hillenbrand has a gift for putting you right into the action. Not knowing if Seabiscuit was going to win or lose any given race, my stomach would knot up and I would start reading faster as he came out of the gates. I was worried about injuries. I was furious with jockeys whom I thought were cheating. My heart pounded as Seabiscuit came down the home stretch and I read ahead to find out if he pulled it off this time. What the heck has happened to me?!? Where did the woman who thought "Non-fiction is boring" go? This horse and his team are truly all-American legends. It seems that we love underdog stories and Seabiscuit, owner Charles Howard, trainer Tom Smith, and jockey Red Pollard were all underdogs at some point. Reading about their struggles and triumphs and, yes, even failures, was inspiring. If they can pull off something like this, why can't you or I? I loved reading about Tom Smith's unending feud with the press. I worried over Pollard, the injury-prone, Shakespeare-quoting jockey. Seabiscuit's quirks amused me to no end--unless he was messing around with another horse as the finish line approached. Then I just wanted to yell at him, "Stop horsing around! Just finish the race!" (Sorry. I couldn't resist.) Now that I've finished it, I've caught myself spouting off some random Seabiscuit trivia to my husband. "Oh, did you know that Seabiscuit hated to run on mud?" The Belmont Stakes was on tv. The track looked muddy. It seemed relevant. There was more, but I'll keep my own quirks to myself. The whole match race thing with War Admiral had me a nervous wreck! I just watched the real race on YouTube and, wow! It gave me goosebumps! It was funny to see Seabiscuit's awkward stride after reading so much about it and to know about all the prep work and psychology that went into that race. I just loved this book, and I can't say enough about it. So before I end up giving you a page-by-page summary and my reactions, just do us both a favor and go read it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bren

    I love LOVE..the story of Sea Biscuit. What a horse! He seemed almost human to me. We here in my family are huge Horse fans and Derby fans and even have had Kentucky Derby parties. There are a few horses that just leave me speechless. Secretariet is one. Sea Biscuit is another. The book is so vivid you will feel like you are there. It is a wonderful story about an exceptional champion Horse. And the writer really deserves kudos. From what I understand she wrote this..or much of this..while she was I love LOVE..the story of Sea Biscuit. What a horse! He seemed almost human to me. We here in my family are huge Horse fans and Derby fans and even have had Kentucky Derby parties. There are a few horses that just leave me speechless. Secretariet is one. Sea Biscuit is another. The book is so vivid you will feel like you are there. It is a wonderful story about an exceptional champion Horse. And the writer really deserves kudos. From what I understand she wrote this..or much of this..while she was sick with Epstein Bar. My mom has had Epstein Bar and I know how weak that can make one. The fact that she wrote a book like this is amazing. Highly HIGHLY recommended for all Horse lovers.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth A

    I have seen, and loved, the movie based on this book several times, and as I tend to enjoy non-fiction reads during the summer, decided to dive in. I listened to the audiobook which is wonderfully narrated by George Newbern. This is narrative non-fiction at its best. I loved everything about this story. The characters, both human and horse, are broken but not out. The pacing of the story is excellent, and there were moments that I was on tenterhooks waiting to see what would happen next. Given I have seen, and loved, the movie based on this book several times, and as I tend to enjoy non-fiction reads during the summer, decided to dive in. I listened to the audiobook which is wonderfully narrated by George Newbern. This is narrative non-fiction at its best. I loved everything about this story. The characters, both human and horse, are broken but not out. The pacing of the story is excellent, and there were moments that I was on tenterhooks waiting to see what would happen next. Given that I already knew the outlines of the story and how it would end, that is some dang great writing. The book is so much better than the movie, in that it fleshes out the story of the characters, and captures a sense of place and time in America really well. I even learned that The Biscuit and I have some things in common: we both like to eat and take long naps. The one thing I did miss out on with the audio, are the photos in the book. Well, Google to the rescue. And if you have yet to see it, go now and and watch the video of the matched race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral and see if you don't get choked up. I listened to this story on long walks, and found my pace picking up each time Seabiscuit was racing. Even if you are not interested in horses, or horse racing, I would highly recommend this one.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Seabiscuit has been sitting on my shelf for years because I never seemed to be in the mood to read a book about horse racing. Finally, trying to clear space, I decided it was now or never. Within the first chapter, I was hooked. The pacing is impeccable, the people (and horses) come to life, and I felt as if I were at the racetrack. The book reads like fiction, but the endnotes attest to its veracity. Now I'm trying to get my husband to read it, but he's never in the mood for a book about horse Seabiscuit has been sitting on my shelf for years because I never seemed to be in the mood to read a book about horse racing. Finally, trying to clear space, I decided it was now or never. Within the first chapter, I was hooked. The pacing is impeccable, the people (and horses) come to life, and I felt as if I were at the racetrack. The book reads like fiction, but the endnotes attest to its veracity. Now I'm trying to get my husband to read it, but he's never in the mood for a book about horse racing... After reading Seabiscuit and Unbroken, I will read absolutely anything Hillenbrand writes!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Kay

    I LOVE this book! I have the full novel in the commemorative pictorial, the DVD, and now the audiobook, wonderfully narrated by Campbell Scott. Ms. Hillenbrand has researched her topic well, but she brings it to the page with insight, humor and an emotional depth that make it additive. You want to find out more about these three misfits – excuse me, make that four misfits, including Seabiscuit – and find out how they won the love of a nation in the midst of the Great Depression. There is ★★★★★ I LOVE this book! I have the full novel in the commemorative pictorial, the DVD, and now the audiobook, wonderfully narrated by Campbell Scott. Ms. Hillenbrand has researched her topic well, but she brings it to the page with insight, humor and an emotional depth that make it additive. You want to find out more about these three misfits – excuse me, make that four misfits, including Seabiscuit – and find out how they won the love of a nation in the midst of the Great Depression. There is never anything dull and tedious presented here and it is full of surprises.

  22. 4 out of 5

    K.M. Weiland

    This is a story for the ages. Hillenbrand does a magnificent job of capturing the swirling excitement that surrounded the unbelievable racing career of the unlikely Seabiscuit. Her exquisite attention to detail and her evocative but never ostentatious prose creates a lost world of Depression-era racing. She doesn't flinch from her cast's warts, but, in the end, we love them as much as we love the horse. Fantastic story, fantastically told.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Katelyn Smith

    I never thought I would read this because I basically hate horse books/movies (yes, I am probably a horrible person) but I was persuaded by one of my favorite podcasts, "What Should I Read Next." Hillenbrand is the master of research and humanizing and fleshing out historical stories. Seabiscuit and his trainer, Smith, owner, Howard, and rider, Pollard, had me deeply invested.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Eric_W

    After having achieved fame and winning races all over the place, there was a great deal of pressure to run Seabiscuit in a match race against War Admiral, his blood relative who was cleaning up the tracks in the East. After finally making the arrangements for a race at Belmont in late 1939, not so easily done because War Admiral, a triple-crown winner, was due to be retired at the end of the year and what did the owner have to gain by possibly losing to a rival, the race was called off because After having achieved fame and winning races all over the place, there was a great deal of pressure to run Seabiscuit in a match race against War Admiral, his blood relative who was cleaning up the tracks in the East. After finally making the arrangements for a race at Belmont in late 1939, not so easily done because War Admiral, a triple-crown winner, was due to be retired at the end of the year and what did the owner have to gain by possibly losing to a rival, the race was called off because Seabiscuit had knee problems. He was then entered in a race with War Admiral in a full field. "Red" Pollard, the jockey who was scheduled to ride him in the race, and who had ridden Seabiscuit many times, was terribly injured just before the race. He was known for his extraordinary use of scatological language and he was forced to make a 45 minute ride to the hospital with his leg horribly mangled. NBC arranged for a live interview with him and his good friend and rival jockey [c:]Wolf. Because network executives had nightmares that Pollard might indulge in his penchant for expletives, they gave both riders a spirit to follow. Everything was just fine until the interviewer had Wolf ask Pollard how he should ride Seabiscuit. At this point Pollard, in his hospital bed "accidentally drop the script and said as the producer rushed to give them to him in the correct order, "well you just put one leg over his back, put your feet in the stirrups, and then fuckitup as usual." As technicians tore out of their seats to cut the transmission, Wolf collapsed on the floor laughing hysterically. The match race was finally held at Pimlico in 1938. That year Seabiscuit obtained more newspaper space than Hitler or FDR Seabiscuit didn't look like much. With his smallish stature, knobby knees, and slightly crooked forelegs and a reputation for being lazy, loving to lie around his stall sleeping much more than most horses. He looked more like a cow pony than a thoroughbred. But looks aren't everything; he had heart. Tom Smith, one of the heroes of the story, had an uncanny ability to recognize quality in horses --"he had cultivated an almost mystical communication with horses" (but ironically hated talking to people) -- and to get the absolute best out of them. Smith had all sorts of tricks to make the horse adapt to unusual situations. Smith was a character himself who played all sorts of hide-and-seek games with the media so they would not find out how fast his horse was during practice sessions. There were numerous setbacks. On several occasions Charles Howard, Sea biscuit's owner, an automobile baron who once declared that "the day of the horse is past," was told by veterinarians that his horse would never run again after an injury, but each time Smith was able to nurse the horse back to greatness. And what's truly astonishing is that many of his record-breaking runs were made when he was considerably older than the other horses and carrying unheard of added weight. Not only that, Seabiscuit was known to slow down (this was even sometimes used as a strategy) to let other horses close up during a race, because Seabiscuit seemed to love taunting his rivals and then effortlessly racing ahead to finally win by several lengths. Hillenbrand describes the social atmosphere of the 1930s when Seabiscuit became an American icon: the snobbery of the eastern establishment that regarded western horses as inferior, and the horrible conditions that jockeys worked under. They were constantly dieting using even tapeworms and purgatives to lose weight. Often they were so weak they could barely keep themselves in the saddle. Hillenbrand is a wonderful story teller. You can feel yourself pulling for the characters, whipping through the pages to see what happens next. This book should not be missed.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nicole R

    I love horse racing. I do not know why I am so enamored with it and I certainly do not follow it year round, but for the few months of the Triple Crown I cannot get enough. I research the horses, I research the jockeys, I read about previous winners, trainers, owners, anything. That is a long way to say that I knew I would love this book. There is no way that I wouldn't. What I wasn't prepared for his how much I was completely captivated by Seabiscuit's story. Seabiscuit was an amazing horse. I love horse racing. I do not know why I am so enamored with it and I certainly do not follow it year round, but for the few months of the Triple Crown I cannot get enough. I research the horses, I research the jockeys, I read about previous winners, trainers, owners, anything. That is a long way to say that I knew I would love this book. There is no way that I wouldn't. What I wasn't prepared for his how much I was completely captivated by Seabiscuit's story. Seabiscuit was an amazing horse. But, more than that, he was a symbol to American's during the Great Depression that an underdog could overcome all odds to win. His jockey, Red Pollard, was a symbol that a guy with nothing could find his niche and rise to greatness. Hillenbrand introduces us to these two horse racing icons as well as Seabiscuit's owner, Charles Howard, and trainer, Tom Smith. She beautifully sets the stage with the history of horse racing in California, how each of the main players--including Seabiscuit--ended up at the same place at the same time to form a team, and she takes us through Seabiscuit's racing career. I know how Seabiscuit's races turned out, I researched them a lot several years ago when the movie with Toby McGuire came out, and yet I was on the edge of my seat for every race described. I literally cried when Seabiscuit didn't win, smiled when he did, and was amazed at his comebacks. I listened to this on audio and the narrator was very good. I liked that his reading the racing scenes felt like an old-timey radio broadcaster was announcing it. As much as I loved it, I don't think I would recommend it to people who are not at least interested in horse racing. There was a lot of description of the races and that could easily get redundant even if the non-racing parts of the story were also brilliant. Excellent choice for this month's tag!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    What an amazing story! I only regret that I didn't live in the time of Seabiscuit's glory! I fell in love with this horse! I have recently taken riding lessons (English)and this story was more meaningful because of the little experience I have had with horses. I have always loved this animal since my youth so reading a "horse" book sounded like fun. Being a true story made it a remarkable read! I liked the way it was written (by someone who knows horses inside and out). Very beautiful and What an amazing story! I only regret that I didn't live in the time of Seabiscuit's glory! I fell in love with this horse! I have recently taken riding lessons (English)and this story was more meaningful because of the little experience I have had with horses. I have always loved this animal since my youth so reading a "horse" book sounded like fun. Being a true story made it a remarkable read! I liked the way it was written (by someone who knows horses inside and out). Very beautiful and descriptive. I enjoyed all the old photographs throughout the book that put you there in 1936. I learned about the early automobile days in SF and the fact that racing was huge in the early 20th century. I grew up in Nor Cal and appreciated the different, familiar towns, roads, and history. (Willits, CA)I was reminded of the hard life of the jockey, the pressure to loose weight before a race, their poverty, the extreme athletic expectations. I loved each character and felt for them so much that I cried at the end! The ability of an author to emotionally link the reader to the characters in such a way is always amazing to me! An inspiring story that will prove to you that no matter what odds are against you, if you want something bad enough, it can be yours! What looked very flawed on the outside had power and drive that won the world over! Never underestimate the under dog!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cammie

    Laura Hillenbrand provides a thorough and informative look into horse racing in the early part of the 20th century. Her research includes the horses and jockeys and pretty much anything a reader would want to know about the sport.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2017: Read a book about sports. This book started slow, and then I could NOT put it down. I cried twice during race scenes, and had to stop reading before bed because my heart was pounding! I learned more about racing -- and Depression-era America -- than I ever expected. Especially interesting to me was the psychology of horses (how they play off each other's emotions during a race) and the physiology of being a jockey (making weight & serious injury -- Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2017: Read a book about sports. This book started slow, and then I could NOT put it down. I cried twice during race scenes, and had to stop reading before bed because my heart was pounding! I learned more about racing -- and Depression-era America -- than I ever expected. Especially interesting to me was the psychology of horses (how they play off each other's emotions during a race) and the physiology of being a jockey (making weight & serious injury -- whew). It was the kind of book where I always wanted to turn to someone and read them a part. If you can get this edition, do not miss the interview with the author at the end. Her research process (and how she works through serious illness) is fascinating and inspiring. I'm so glad I finally read this, and I'm already seeking out YouTube clips and the feature film. Highly recommended! Favorite quotes: “Even more encouraging, in the homestretch, Seabiscuit’s ears were up, a signal that the horse was running within himself.” Running within himself. I love this. “Enabling virtually all citizens to experience noteworthy events simultaneously and in entertaining form, radio created a vast common culture in America, arguably the first mass culture the world had ever seen. Racing, a sport whose sustained dramatic action was ideally suited to narration, became a staple of the airwave.” “Horses, mister, can have crushed hearts just like humans.” “After an advisor talked him into selling an especially slow one, Howard quietly bought him back. ‘You don’t understand,’ he explained. ‘This one used to eat sugar cubes out of my hand.’”

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    The wonderfully talented Laura Hillenbrand makes history come alive in this page turning account of the life and times of one of thoroughbreds greatest 4 legged athletes. After setting the depression era stage, the author examines the back-stories of Seabiscuit's charismatic owners; Charles and Marcella Howard, the enigmatic and gifted trainer Tom Smith, the very talented but hard luck jockey, Red Pollard and of course the protagonist, Seabiscuit. Where I might differ in the universally effusive The wonderfully talented Laura Hillenbrand makes history come alive in this page turning account of the life and times of one of thoroughbreds greatest 4 legged athletes. After setting the depression era stage, the author examines the back-stories of Seabiscuit's charismatic owners; Charles and Marcella Howard, the enigmatic and gifted trainer Tom Smith, the very talented but hard luck jockey, Red Pollard and of course the protagonist, Seabiscuit. Where I might differ in the universally effusive praise of this fine book, concerns what I thought was overkill on the details of each race, especially the 1938 match race against the Eastern thoroughbred champion, War Admiral. Every conceivable detail was researched and covered in chapter sized length in the authors account of the events surrounding this monumental race and it was truly fascinating - up to a point. By that I mean, I've always like James Bond movies and have seen them all numerous times over the years. A new Daniel Craig/ Bond movie will be released this fall and I'll see it the first week because what's important to me is the finished product, not the myriad details of how the movie was made. As an old History major I've always thought it more important to write readable history than to get caught up in the weeds trying to use use every factoid one's research uncovers but hey, that just me.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brenda A

    I love this story so much. I love this author for delving so deeply into the lives of people (who are probably now long gone) and uncovering anecdotes that are legitimately fascinating. I was introduced to the story through the movie that came out in 2003. I bought the movie and rewatched it over the years; it wasn’t until later that I found out my mom bought the book and was about to give it away. I nabbed it and it’s been hanging out on my shelf for a couple years since. It’s an amazing story. I love this story so much. I love this author for delving so deeply into the lives of people (who are probably now long gone) and uncovering anecdotes that are legitimately fascinating. I was introduced to the story through the movie that came out in 2003. I bought the movie and rewatched it over the years; it wasn’t until later that I found out my mom bought the book and was about to give it away. I nabbed it and it’s been hanging out on my shelf for a couple years since. It’s an amazing story. Seabiscuit was a tough old bugger who was cocky and loved to play games. Tom Smith was easily my favorite human; he was a man who took to horses better than people, and loved to fuck with the reporters. Red Pollard drove me insane with this inability to say no to people and continuing to get himself seriously injured. Reading the notes from the author at the end really opened my eyes to how much was involved in writing the book. She had to spend hours going through old newspapers, magazines and journals. She posted ads in newspapers targeted toward the individuals who would know about horse racing in its heyday. She spoke with all kinds of elderly people who had the stories and experiences directly with the spotlight people. It’s a labor of love and I wish that the main people could have benefitted from the book. Especially Tom and Red.

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