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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book has it all. An amazing story, one that rivals Forest Gump for eccentric adventures. A well wrought and meaningful look at racism, and one man's equanimous manner of dealing with it. And the sure hand of Joe Drape, whose horseracing coverage for the New York Times has no rival in the industry. A must read. It's got Seabiscuit's depth and incredibly detailed research, with even more heroic heights. It is amazing that this story is not a part of racing, and our country's lore. But thanks to this book, my guess is it becomes just that.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
What a story! Born one of 17 children in a poor, black, Kentucky farm, Jimmy Winkfield won the Kentucky Derby twice. He tried again in 1903 but failed and his career was over. Except that by moving to Europe and Russia he continued as a top rider in the Sport of Kings.

He was doing exceedingly well when the 1917 Revolution came along to disrupt. So what he did then was to collect some 250 horses and drive them to Poland. Later he moved to Paris and was living there when the Germans came in 1940. He returned to the United States where he again became a victum of the blatent racism of the time. Again he was able to persevere and prosper by turning broken-down thoroughbreds into money-making racehorses.

This is an exceedingly well researched, very well written book that brings a little known sports figure a small amount of the recognition he deserves. This book follows 'Wink: The Incredible Life and Epic Journey of Jimmy Winkfield (ISBN: 0071418628)'

When asked why he picked this subject, the author responded: 'Jimmy Winkfield lived a life that transcended sports or horses. He witnessed lynchings, felt the constraints of Jim Crow laws. He was a rich man with a white valet in Russia. He romanced beautiful women on three continents, dodged bullets and the Bolsheviks to save some of the world's finest thoroughbreds in a trail drive that makes 'Lonesome Dove' look like a walk in the park. He was chased out of France by the Nazis and, in 1961, had to demand the right to enter a party that he was invited to at Louisville's Brown Hotel. This wild arc was all made possible because of Jimmy's singular gift for communicating with racehorses.'
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is so well written that it got me hooked on it right away and I am not a racing fan. The author, Joe Drape really captured the essence of Jimmy Winkfield and brought his story to life in this book. After reading this book I was left with the firm understanding that man can accomplish so much in a lifetime; it is up to us to make something of our lives regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in. It is a truly amazing account of one man's life. Jimmy Winkfield is a legend and I would not have heard about him if it were not for this book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Jimmy Winkfield, black jockey, and two-time Kentucky Derby winner fled Jim Crow on US racing circuits for the race tracks of Poland, Russia, Vienna and later Paris around 1910. This bio draws the exciting story of horse racing in America and abroad, starting in the late 19th century when racing was America's most popular spectator sport. The picture of continental racing are terrific. The characters - jockeys, trainers, owners, here and abroad - covered a world I knew nothing about. The author obviously knows his racing. I'd have given this book another star if the picture of Jimmy Winkfield was more of a piece, and if the author had resisted sugar-coating him. All told Black Maestro is a terrific story, well told.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2007
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
the sport of horseracing owes much to the African Americans who have nutured its athletes. Rarely, however, are those unsung heros shared with the public.

This well written and very well researched book shares the life of one of the sport's more colorful participants and gifted partners to equine athletes - Jimmy Winkfield.

The pages kept turning, the story was fascinating, and the author did a lovely job in both pace and content.

If you have any interest in the "sport of kings" and those who make it come to life, this book is an important read. For those who just want to read the story of a gifted athlete whose genetic makeup destroyed his promise on American soil, this will inspire you as to Jimmy's fortitude and once again bewilder you at the mindset that eventually took his craft out of his home country.

put it on your read list.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2008
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The story of Jimmy Winkfield is an amazing one, and honestly told. I say the latter because, although the author obviously wants to inform us about this great unknown athlete, he's honest enough to tell us the man's faults, too. Overall, he wasn't a very honorable man yet you can't help but root for him.

His story will leave you shaking your head in amazement. I think it's safe to say no American athlete ever led a stranger life, and that includes Babe Ruth. Winkfield was one of the best jockeys in American history, but he had his color going against him at that time. He went to Europe and.....well, the stories are incredible!

As of my review, this hardcover book is on sale here for five bucks. You have to be kidding! What a bargain. This is great reading if you any interest in people, not just horse racing.
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on July 4, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Wonderful story of a little known expert horseman and jockey. His life journey and triumph in an environment of extreme racial prejuice and jealously defines imagination. He had set backs which he always came back from. He triumphed in the end although he was treated as a man and respected in foreign nations. He was treated as less than human in his own so-called country. Few people of any race when faced with such obstacles could have triumped like Mr. Winkfield. Strong man. Expert on horses with no formal training. Who does that! Great read!!!
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on January 25, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book is a portrait of a man, an era, a slice of history and a cast of real-world characters Hollywood could never invent. Anyone interested in horse racing, horses, American history, sociology, African-American history, the evolution of our culture, the evolution of racetrack culture, and pret'near any other subject under the sun will enjoy this one. Well-written and beautifully researched -- it's a must read in my opinion.
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on April 28, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a well written piece that give us more that just the history of Black jockeys it's a story of the sport of kings and the key roles Blacks played not only in American but Europe and Russian. The book is also and extraordinary ride through world history via Jimmy Winkfield's life. A screen play and movie of this story would be great...it would entertain and educate the masses.
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on April 13, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Drape paints an indelible picture of the racial strife that haunted African Americans in the racing industry following the Civil War and the introduction of Jim Crow laws, but equally shares the opportunities that were present for those few, like Jimmy Winkfield, who were willing to relocate to Europe in the wake of the often violent attitudes in his home country. I found ample sources of new reading material on prominent African Americans in Europe and was especially surprised to learn of the positive treatment they received in Russia of all places given its reputation for bigotry and prejudice today. The book is well researched, but suffers from a bit of disjointedness that sometimes left me to trying to remember how certain characters fit into the overall narrative. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to others interested in 19th and 20th Century history and the lessons it can teach us today.
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