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The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America's Premier Sporting Event Hardcover – March 15, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 274 pages
  • Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky; 1st edition (March 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813135761
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813135762
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #460,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Winner of the Kentucky Literary Award for Non-fiction

Winner of the the Kentucky History Award" --



"Many books have been published about the Kentucky Derby that deal with elements of the race such as the horses, jockeys, owners, and trainers. This book is much more than that -- it places the Derby within the history of the Commonwealth and in the broader context of American culture." -- John Kleber, editor of The Kentucky Encyclopedia



"Nicholson has done a masterful job of researching the historical events that made the Derby the enthralling and significant event it is... You may never get to experience the thrill of entering the winners' circle and smelling the wonderful aroma that emanates from the garland of roses that signifies the greatest achievement in the sport of Thoroughbred racing, but this wonderful book will take you on a journey that gets you as close as any piece of writing possibly could." -- Chris McCarron, two-time Kentucky Derby winner and Hall of Fame inductee, from the foreword



"I have witnessed every modern Derby beginning in 1964 and have been privileged to write about the Derby many times. Through all of that involvement, however, I could never say that I really had my arms around just how the race came to be so embedded into the American soul. Now, Nicholson has provided that insight. In his lively telling, he explains the many strands of what is not so much a picture as a tapestry. Moreover, he brings us up to date as to the Derby's ability to withstand the winds of social change wrought by warfare, racial relations, and, of late, the international aspects of the grand old race." -- Edward L. Bowen, author of nineteen books on Thoroughbred racing



"Nicholson's connections to the Thoroughbred industry all combine in this flowing, colorful but painstakingly-accurate history of the Kentucky Derby. His story is the design, the warp and weave of the fabric, and he knew where to source the embellishments which give this work its unique personality. Read this book and you will understand why, each year, this great nation holds its breath for two minutes late in the afternoon on the first Saturday in May." -- Terence Collier, Fasig-Tipton Company, Inc.



"Nicholson has done a great job putting together historical facts and telling just enough of a story to make his book very interesting. It is obvious that the influence of his family's history and experiences in racing have helped him achieve this goal." -- Richard Mandella, Hall of Fame trainer



"What is it about the Kentucky Derby that causes people who will not see another horse race all year to pay attention? The answer, James C. Nicholson explains, lies in the Derby's image being intertwined with that of Kentucky. The popular perception of the state as both genteel and untamed is played out in the event itself. In the early days of the Derby, an imagined link to the mythological Old South added to the appeal. Now, in the twenty-first century, the Derby has become an all-American sports experience. The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America's Premier Sporting Event goes beyond the colorful history of the race and examines the reasons behind its popularity. It is not only an enjoyable read but also very enlightening." -- Tom Hammond, NBC Kentucky Derby Host



" The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America's Premier Sporting Event is both informative and entertaining. Providing the reader with a unique insight into how the Kentucky Derby has evolved over the past 135 years, Nicholson illuminates the history of Kentucky's signature sporting event, highlighting the culture, history, and rich tradition surrounding it." -- Walt Robertson, Keeneland Vice President of Sales



"Keen observations... prove to be consistently powerful throughout the book, as the author touches on everything from the scandalous demise of celebrated black jockeys to the heavy influence of powerful Middle-Eastern sheiks." -- Kirkus Reviews



"Does an excellent job describing the aura that surrounds America's most popular thoroughbred race." -- Saratogan



"Likely to become a study that sets the new standard for books concerning thoroughbred racing, especially for ones dealing with the Kentucky Derby.... If you fail to read this book, you have missed a good one." -- Northern Kentucky Heritage



"Essential reading for anyone interested in throughbred racing, American history and/or developing a successful campaign in one's industry" -- Voices.Yahoo.com



"Explores how the paradoxical reputation of Kentucky for lawlessness and gentility is reflected in and helped sustain 'the most exciting two minutes in sports' despite significant cultural, political, and economic changes over its 138 year history." -- University of Kentucky College of Arts & Sciences



"The favorite to be a winner for book lovers and Derby buffs alike." -- Business Lexington



"A highly readable historical account of the myriad ways in which Louisville's iconic race has reflected the cultural and political climates of Kentucky as well as the world." -- Louisville Courier-Journal



"You cannot help but come away from this book feeling that [Kentuckians] are savvy business people, brilliant marketers, sports enthusiasts, people passionate about a champion, a comeback, a longshot or an underdog, and yes--even blessed by God." -- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



"The romance and mythology surrounding this Derby are uncovered, from the winner's blanket of red roses to the souvenir mint julep glasses to the hats the size of parade floats." -- Sunday Star Ledger



"Nicholson's book will appeal to aficionados of horse racing in general and the Kentucky Derby in particular, even if one does not live in the United States." -- Horse Racing Business



"More than a list of horses, riders, trainers, and owners, this this book parallels the Derby, the state of Kentucky and the people who inhabit this country who find themselves ready to watch a horse race on the first Saturday in May for reasons they really cannot put a finger on. An excellent read." -- The Past in Review



"This is a book for anyone interested in Thoroughbred racing--its history, the industry--or sports and Americana more generally." -- Choice



"An excellent choice for anyone interested in this annual event that brings the national press to the commonwealth and that should be a very large reading audience." -- Bowling Green Daily News



"Nicholson paints an interesting, richly illustrated, and well-documented account of the Derby that will appeal to a large cross-section of readers." -- Kentucky Libraries



"Nicholson applies the critical lens of the academy to the history and survival of what he deems 'America's premier sporting event,' the Kentucky Derby.... This book is for anyone interested in thoroughbred racing -- its history, the industry -- or sports and Americana more generally." -- Choice



"Nicholson's book offers a look at the evolution of the Derby, the 'most exciting two minutes in sports,' as well as its international, national, and regional importance." -- &



"Nicholson's examination of the Derby emphasizes context and as such offers a valuable contribution both to the equine literature and the historiography of Kentucky." -- Ohio Valley History



"A broader audience will find lively narration and deft writing that captures the often amusing discrepancies between fabrication and fact as Nicholson describes the Derby's journey from dusty horse race to international icon of the mythic American South." -- The Historian



"A scholarly but very readable study of how the Derby grew from a regional attraction to a sports and entertainment event that attracts a world-wide audience" -- Louisville Voice-Tribune



"Nicholson's insightful and often entertaining book...is about much more than a bunch of Thoroughbreds running races for 14 decades....Nicholson presents a history of a Derby that was forced to be nimble to change with the times marked by racial issues, drugs and war, and the emergence of international Thoroughbred owners. What makes the book so attractive to readers is the author's ability to tell engaging stories rather than simply give a chronology of facts.Kentucky Monthly" -- Kentucky Monthly

About the Author

James C. Nicholson is the author of Never Say Die: A Kentucky Colt, the Epsom Derby, and the Rise of the Modern Thoroughbred Industry.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 7 customer reviews
The book has an extensive bibliography and notes section.
Rebecca Graf
Nicholson also writes extremely well when relating how the race was marketed.
Christine N. Ethier
If you enjoy sports, horse racing or history, buy the book!
Gregg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By david l. poremba VINE VOICE on June 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
There was a time, not so long ago, when reading the Daily Racing Form was required daily for a good percentage of the population; maybe not so much anymore but this reviewer tends to fall behind the times a bit. I am fairly certain that there are not too many people on the planet who have never heard of the Kentucky Derby, the "most exciting two minutes in sports". Even if you are not a horse racing fan, the bets are down that remember where you were in 1973 and Secretariat was beating every horse in sight, while setting track records for speed that are still records.
Nicholson traces the history of the derby back to England and discusses the trials, tribulations and successes of the Derby since its first running in 1875 up until 2010. More than a list of horses, riders, trainers and owners, this book parallels the Derby, the state of Kentucky and the people who inhabit this country who find themselves ready to watch a horse race on the first Saturday in May for reasons they really cannot put a finger on. An excellent read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Graf on June 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Too often, we don't know the history of an event that we are extremely familiar with. The Kentucky Derby is an annual event enjoyed across the country the first Saturday of each May. People from every walk of life, every economic level, and every race enjoy the tradition and excitement. The development of the event and the role it has played in American is largely forgotten. James C. Nicholson dives into the heart of the traditional horse racing event in his book, The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America's Premier Sporting Event.

Tracing the history of the derby to England, Nicholson explores the birth of the Kentucky Derby and the world it was born into. From the 1800s through 2010, the book does more than recite the history of the national event but also the culture of the world around it and how it influenced that world. Nicholson explores the social issues that were addressed throughout the history of the Derby and the major players who became a part of the tradition.

Too many history books can be dry with a slow pace to the reading. Nicholson does not fall into this rut as he moves over two centuries of horse history. He does not repeat himself needlessly and brings in enough peripheral history to keep the story lively and colorful.

Nicholson's writing is easy to follow. It is entertaining and educational. The pictures that accompany the text help bring it to life and make the history real.

This book was especially special to me as I am from Kentucky and the Derby has been a part of my entire life. So much of the history that was mentioned in the book is a part of my own history being descendent from a coal miner, tobacco farmer, and World War II veteran.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christine N. Ethier on May 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Disclaimer: Read as an ARC via Netgalley.

In 1986, I watched my first Kentucky Derby. What I knew about horse racing at that time was what was in the Black Stallion novels and the true stories related in the magnificent book Champion Horses. I picked Ferdinand to win, not because I thought his odds were good (he was the long shot), but because I recognized his blood line. Ferdinand won. Years later, I still watch the Derby, even though I prefer eventing and show jumping. I like horse racing, though I view it with mixed emotions (why can't we Americans use turf, can we please stop the inbreeding), yet I still get a thrill watching the horse go down the stretch, even the annoying coverage that exists today can't ruin that.
It's not surprising, therefore, that I greatly enjoyed The Kentucky Derby by James C. Nicholson. After all, it's about horses and racing, written by someone who admits in the beginning that he enjoys racing. Yet to simply say this book is about racing would do both the book and the author a huge disservice.
The subtitle for this volume is "How the Run for the Roses Became America's Premier Sporting Event" and even this does the book a slight disservice. In relating the history of America's most famous race, Nicholson also relates how America could be seen in the race itself - not only in the horses and trainers that the public rooted for, but in how the Derby was marketed, who worked where, and who came to the race. It isn't really surprising, either, but I never really thought about before reading this book, that the Run for the Roses also ties into how Americans view racial issues. In fact, those sections of the book, and there are quite few, tend to be the most interesting, even more engrossing than the descriptions of the horse racing itself.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By GREEN BAY PACKERS IQ author on April 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
What an exciting, insightful read! Having recently moved to Kentucky from Wisconsin, I am eager to read this book and discover all that the Kentucky Derby means to Kentucky, America, and the world. After visiting Keeneland Racetrack, I could not help but compare that experience to the first time I walked into Wrigley Field. There is a timelessness to its structure and traditions and I am fascinated with the culture of horse racing and its rich history.
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The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America's Premier Sporting Event
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