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Battleship: A Daring Heiress, a Teenage Jockey, and America's Horse Hardcover – April 30, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (April 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312641850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312641856
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #373,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The heiress of the subtitle was Marion du Pont, a steeplechase enthusiast. The teenage jockey was 17-year-old Bruce Hobbs, son of a trainer. And America’s horse was Battleship, born of Man o’ War, a small but strong Thoroughbred who became, in 1938, the first American horse to win the English Grand National steeplechase (which had been running, except for a brief break in WWI, since 1839). Although the book is titled after the horse, it’s really the story of Marion, a woman who so dedicated herself to Battleship that she nearly left everything else in her life behind, and of Bruce, who became the Grand National’s youngest winner and whose riding career was cut short a handful of years later. Author Ours, who also wrote Man o’ War (2006), clearly has a deep appreciation for racehorses, their riders, and the people who build their lives around them. Perfect for fans of Lauren Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit (2001) or Bill Nack’s Secretariat (1975). --David Pitt

Review

"Meticulously researched and beautifully written. Ours masterfully ties the sport of racing together with the outer world that embraces it, all the while presenting a cast of human characters we grow to care about, and whose patience and faith ultimately allowed a horse's greatness to shine through . . . A gifted writer with a great tale to tell."
 
Daily Racing Form

"Dorothy Ours’ fresh perspective makes for delightful reading. Straight from the gate, this is a well-researched exploration of Team Battleship, as well as a colorful snapshot of an era when horses could still be national heroes. . . Battleship is a moving read by a talented writer, and a worthy addition to any sporting library."

The Equiery magazine

"Author Ours clearly has a deep appreciation for racehorses, their riders, and the people who build their lives around them. Perfect for fans of Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit or Bill Nack's Secretariat."
 
Booklist

"Evokes a time when horse racing was not only the sport of kings, but captured the global imagination of millions . . . a companion for Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit."
 
Kirkus

"Battleship reminds us that many thoroughbreds, like many humans, are only getting started in their Derby days . . . If, like Battleship, we have it in us to try the Grand National steeplechase, we may even rise to 4 miles and 856 yards, jumping 30 fences, leaping as high as our own shoulders while carrying much heavier burdens than the Derby babies bear. And that, more than any Derby victory, should give us hope . . . As Battleship the late-bloomer proved, there's more than one way to the Hall of Fame." 
 
New York Times horse racing blog, The Rail

"Following her superb biography of America’s greatest racehorse Man o’War, Dorothy Ours tells the story of Man o’War’s son, Battleship, and his quest to win the Grand National steeplechase. Like the heroine Velvet Brown of Enid Bagnold’s novel National Velvet, Battleship’s owner, Marion duPont Scott, persisted in her belief that her little American horse belonged in England’s greatest and most challenging race over jumps. Ours’ cadenced language, both elegant and often exhilarating, recalls the thundering hooves and pounding heart of her champion."

—Elizabeth M. Tobey, Ph.D.

"Anybody with an appreciation of racing’s history is certain to be enthralled by the richness given to this uniquely American tale of a Man o’ War son traveling to England for the world’s greatest steeplechase race at Aintree. Dorothy Ours excels as she breathes excitement into a grand bygone era with great style."

—Barry Irwin, CEO of Team Valor International, owner and breeder of Kentucky Derby-winner Animal Kingdom

“Meticulously-researched and accurately-written…an easy joy to read. I gained a lot of fascinating new background material on the leading characters, while the vivid description of the race itself was both stirringly exciting and emotionally moving. This is a totally addictive book that I just could not put down.”

  —Jane Clarke, Grand National historian/researcher for Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool and curator of the Grand National Museum


More About the Author

From me to you, about Battleship:

Leap was the working title for this book. That one word fits the story as a noun, a verb, and unifying theme. While Battleship does contain the story of the racehorse Battleship -- he is the remarkable force which brings everything together -- this story explores several versions of the passion, planning, and persistence that it takes to make a leap of faith.

If you are a horse person who wants to know what Battleship was like, you will find as much here as I could find. I love his journey from temperamental baby to poised professional to crafty middle-aged guy protecting his assets.

Yet that is only one strand of how this story speaks about the joys and hurdles of life. Whether or not you love horses, I hope that reading this book may give you at least some of what researching and writing it gave me. It isn't a story stuck to one moment in history, or only relevant to the horse world. These true happenings are a source for timeless reflections: the blend of skill and instinct that let a man fly a small plane across the Atlantic Ocean or a teenage boy guide a small horse around the world's toughest steeplechase course ... how much of success depends on partnership ... how easy it can be to choose surface over substance, or gossip above proof. Add a good laugh here and there, plus more than a few thrills, and -- yes -- inspiration to take a deep breath when a poor jump knocks the stuffing out of us, and keep finding more.

We all face what the Grand National race proves, time and again: no matter how rich or talented we may be, we can't control everything life brings. We can only aim our own attitude. Call it making a leap or being a Battleship ... I wish you a good read and a good ride.

Cheers!
Dorothy

Customer Reviews

Dorothy Ours writes in such a way that vividly presents the scenes, the characters, and the history.
Shannan
The negative, not as big but naggingly annoying, was the problem with unengaging characters drawing too much of the author's focus.
Slokes
It is also very much the story of Battleship's owner, heiress Marion DuPont and the young jockey Bruce Hobbs and his dad, Reg.
Antigone Walsh

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E. B. MULLIGAN VINE VOICE on July 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's 1938 and the wealthy American crosses the Atlantic with her horse Battleship to take a run at the English Grand National (made famous here in the US by the movie National Velvet).

The book is as much about the rich and famous as it is about horse racing and the horse named Battleship - from the line of the Triple Crown Man O'War. Also Jockey Bruce Hobbs - his horse trainer father Reg.

The history of the duPont family, Marion DuPont is Battleship's owner. In-depth insight to the relationship of Marion and her wealthy father. And her brief second marriage to Hollywood actor Randolph Scott.

The superficial lives and egotistical personalities are astounding.

Readers looking for the emotional journey found in the novel Sea Biscuit won't find it here, however there is plenty of story to tell and it is told rather well.

POSSIBLE SPOILER: Battleship (1927-1958) is still the only horse to have won both the American Grand National and the Grand National steeplechase races. He was the lead horse from the opening to the finish. The prior horse to lead from beginning to end had been in 1901 and none since.

I really liked to see that he had a long life following the race. And I was impressed that he won at age 11.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
At its core, this book is a historical biography of the first 45+ years Marion duPont (Somerville/Scott)'s life. The biography zeniths with Marion's win of the Grand National with her horse Battleship and a young jockey name Bruce Hobb.

The book is meticulous researched and contains an astounding amount of detail. The story of Marion begins with her great grandfather and grandfather and how the du Pont family first made their fortune. The time line moves to her father William du Pont: his early years, his first marriage, his divorce and subsequent marriage to Marion's mother (herself a divorcee). The book chronicles Marion's life at the family home of Montpelier, her close bond with her younger brother William, and how her childhood experiences shaped her passion for farming, hunting, sports, and all things horses.

The first 3/4's of the book details Marion's life and how she slowly begins building her own stables apart from her brother and father. It shows her fascination with Man o' War, and her goal of adding the Man o' War bloodline to her own stables. She finally achieves this goal with the purchase of Annapolis and then Battleship. Along the way the book also painstakingly describes her success with other horses in her stables. The book is almost a weekly summary of all the races she attended and entered throughout the years. A good portion of the book chronicles her horse Trouble Maker, including their unsuccessful attempt at the Grand National at Aintree. Throughout this portion of the book Battleship is mentioned occasionally, mostly to show his transition from track racer to hunter/jumper.

Interwoven with the main thread of Mario duPont are the life histories of Reg and Bruce Hobbs, Noel Laing and Carroll Bassett.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Susannah St Clair Foxy Loxy VINE VOICE on May 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is totally a huge history lesson written with a velvet hand. I was absolutely immersed in it almost from the first chapter. I am not normally a history buff but part of my reasons for loving this book are a). I have been a horsewoman all my life. b). I grew up in Maryland only a short time after this all took place. c). All the hunting, point to points and steeple chases mentioned, I knew about and often had seen some of them. d). My father, as a young man, worked for the duPont's on their "plantation" in New York and I remember being taken to see the glorious gardens there as a youngster. So I was already highly invested in reading about the history I came from.
The book also transcends being a history in that not only are the characters real but the author seems to know them inside and out. Amazing really when she did not live in their time frame and finding all that intimate and detailed knowledge must have been hard indeed. She wrote about them as if she had lived beside them. A beautiful job. All the facts, all the horse language being so right on and explained to the less knowledgeable. The whole narrative flows. It involves several main characters that surrounded Marion duPont. Spanning coast to coast when she eventually married Randolph Scott after he became an actor of some repute and then across to England where she brought a well known trainer, Roy Hobbs and his son Bruce into working with her "little horse that could" to make him ready to do the famous and frighting Grand National steeplechase.
If your looking for a pool side book, this ain't it friends.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 100 REVIEWER on August 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
`Battleship' is the name of the horse that won the Grand National for Marion DuPont Somerville Scott. There is a lack of connection with her in the writing. She was shy and in this writing there are really no excepts from diaries or personal recollections that bring you close to her and how she felt. We read of where she lived and the activates she was involved in and what she did with her horses.

Dorothy Ours writes in great detail about the races and the horses - how they ran and what their jockeys did. There are examples of pronunciation in many places, yet it is assumed that a reader will know what a periscope neck is on a horse. It is interesting to learn about the psychology of horses...if you let a certain type of horse take the lead too soon he will lose interest in the race

Much of the narrative of the book is listings of races and the horses that ran in them; although there seems to be more detail on Randolph Scott and his marriage to Marion. Ours is almost defensive about that marriage and Scott's sexual orientation.
There are inserts of what is going on in the world; Germany takes over Austria and Marion's decision to not enter Battleship for a second time is compared to Lindbergh's decision not to fly on to Rome instead of stopping at Paris when he realizes he has enough fuel to reach that city. These historical snippets can be a bit of an intrusion after so much racing detail -perhaps they were meant to be a reprieve from that?

This would be a book that dedicated racing and horse fans would find interesting. Those who are looking for more of a story of the people that surround the racing world might want to look elsewhere.
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