Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Wink: The Incredible Life and Epic Journey of Jimmy Winkfield Hardcover – October 1, 2004


See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$7.80 $0.01
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Hero Quick Promo
Browse in Books with Buzz and explore more details on the current pick, "The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee" by Marja Mills.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (October 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071418628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071418621
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,397,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In mid- and late-19th-century America, horse racing led American sports, and within that world, black jockeys dominated. From the bluegrass of Kentucky to the fabled domes of Saratoga, one black jockey, Jimmy "Wink" Winkfield, overshadowed all the others by the turn of the century. With the rapid-fire patter of a track announcer, Hotaling, who penned the definitive history of black jockeys (The Great Black Jockeys), traces Wink's meteoric rise and tragic fall with eloquence and vivacity. As a child, Wink (1880–1974) was enthralled by stories of the great black riders, and by the time he was 17, he was toiling as a stable boy, eventually working his way up to jockey. A quick study, Wink became one of horse racing's most successful jockeys, winning two consecutive Kentucky Derbies, two consecutive Russian Derbies and numerous Warsaw Derbies. As the role of black jockeys began to wane in America and they began receiving threats from the KKK, Wink made a new career for himself in Russia and in Europe, racing in events there, winning big and even marrying a Russian heiress. Alas, after WWII, when he returned to the U.S., he encountered racism and the pain that comes with being a has-been. Hotaling's lovingly crafted reminiscence of a great athlete brings a vanished American subculture to light.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Inside Flap

He was a giant of a man who stood barely five feet tall; a fierce competitor with a gentle manner; a gifted jockey whose outstanding accomplishments made him a pariah in his native land. At age twenty-three, two-time Kentucky Derby–winner Jimmy Winkfield was forced from American horseracing by a virulent combination of racism and hard times. He could have become one more victim of Jim Crow injustice, but Jimmy never allowed himself to be anyone’s victim. Instead he launched himself on an amazing adventure through the epochal events of the twentieth century, and in Wink, Ed Hotaling weaves that story with rich historical detail to tell a page-turning tale reminiscent of E. L. Doctorow’s Ragtime.

This vivid and compelling biography has already led to Winkfield’s recent induction into the horse racing's Hall of Fame—one of only three black jockeys honored there. Wink tells the story of Jimmy's rise from humble beginnings as a shoeshine boy in Lexington, Kentucky, to the top of turn-of-the-century American racing. Bursting with talent, confidence, and charm, this brilliant horseman was poised to become the greatest athlete in what was then the world’s biggest sport when he was blackballed by stable owners in 1903. Desperate to continue racing, Wink left his beloved Kentucky, bought a steamer ticket for Europe, and made the world his racetrack.

Hotaling follows Wink on a decades-long odyssey through the capitals of Europe. From the splendor and repression of Czarist Russia to the upheaval and brutality of the Bolshevik Revolution, from the militaristic pomp of the Kaiser’s Germany to the sophisticated elegance of Josephine Baker’s Paris, Wink excelled in his sport, winning purses that far surpassed his Kentucky Derby prizes.

But history seemed always to be gaining on Jimmy. He was the "black maestro" in Moscow, living large, when he and others were forced by the Bolshevik Army into an eleven-hundred-mile overland trek to Poland, herding two hundred thoroughbred horses and surviving on horse flesh. Two decades later, on top once more in France, he had to flee yet again—this time to protect his family from Nazi occupiers. In his sixties, Wink wielded a jackhammer with his 105-pound frame on the streets of Queens for Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. In his seventies, he reestablished himself as a top French trainer and stable owner. He died in Paris at age ninety-four, still homesick for the rolling bluegrass meadows of his boyhood.

No athlete has ever had a more spectacular career or demonstrated more courageously how to ride past any hardship. Jimmy Winkfield achieved a human greatness that transcends the limits of sport. Wink tells this wonderful story—this American story—in all its rich and vibrant power.

Ed Hotaling, a leading social historian, is the nation’s preeminent authority on the history of black jockeys. An Emmy-winning reporter for the NBC television station in Washington, D.C., he is the author of The Great Black Jockeys and They're Off! Horse Racing at Saratoga.

"This may be the most fascinating untold sports story in American history."—Charles Osgood, anchor, CBS News Sunday Morning

"One of the most extraordinary stories in sports history is also one of its least known. Jimmy Winkfield was a gifted jockey and a remarkably intrepid man, and his life was a singular adventure. His is a story of persistence, hardship, and triumph, and it should be long remembered."—Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit: An American Legend

"It is phenomenal enough that Jimmy Winkfield became a dominant force in American horse racing half a century before Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers. But this two-time Kentucky Derby–winner's adventures after leaving to race overseas make his story all the more compelling. Ed Hotaling has a marvelous tale to tell. This is the stuff of great nonfiction."—Douglas Brinkley, author of Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War

"In this fine book, Ed Hotaling adds the texture of a rich individual life to what his previous work has already told us about the great black jockeys of a century ago."—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., bestselling author, Chair of the Department of African and African American Studies and Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University


More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
7
4 star
5
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
See all 12 customer reviews
Thank you Mr. Hotaling for sharing Jimmy's story.
Patricia K. Marshall
Jimmie Winkfield stands before a great curtain of racism, assassinations, prejudice, and person danger.
Rosemary A. Taggart
This is certainly a book I'd recommend to anyone with an interest in horse racing and its history.
Monika

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Monika on December 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It is surprising that Jimmy Winkfield's name is not more well known, in light of all the amazing things he accomplished during his long lifetime. Winkfield was the youngest of seventeen children, born in Kentucky in 1880. His parents died while he was young, and he had to support himself at an early age. From modest jobs like shoeshining and carriage driving, the five-foot-tall black boy made the transition to riding racehorses, a career which would shape his entire life and take him on an amazing journey. When he began riding, a fare share of Winkfield's fellow jockeys were black, but over time they began to disappear. The jealousy and racism of their rival white riders drove many out of the profession. Others moved abroad to try their luck elsewhere. Winkfield, who loved horses and is quoted as having said he would die if they were taken away from him, chose the latter option, but not before winning back-to-back Kentucky Derbies in 1901 and 1902.

Leaving America, Winkfield traveled first to Poland, and then to Russia, where he was known as the "black maestro" and enjoyed even more success than he had had at home. In fact, he would become "the winningest jockey in the czar's Russia" (pg. 228). Among his accomplishments there is the capture of no less than four runnings of the All-Russian Derby, as well as the Emperor's Purse and two runnings of the Moscow Derby. While there was still racism to be found in Europe, the situation was less sinister and Winkfield was seen more as a curiosity at first, and later a hero, causing racegoers to cast their bets on the jockey rather than the horses he rode.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By K. Mccandless on May 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Like a couple of the other reviewers here already said, this is a great book. I really don't care much for racing but Ed Hotaling really brought the story of Jimmy Winkfield to life for me. What an amazing life and what a fine book.

Still, like the reviewer below noted, Hotaling glosses over the less-than-wonderful aspects of our hero's behavior, particularly towards his family. And given that this is probably the only book we're going to see on him for a while, it is a bit frustrating about all the information he leaves out. He never tells us where Winkfield is buried, nor does he go into any particular detail about what happened with his children or grandchildren. It's a somewhat slim book - 300 pages without the end notes - and I get the feeling that it was violently trimmed down in the editing.

In any event, though, these are just minor gripes. Even if you aren't a big sports fan, this is a gripping read for anyone who loves books.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Patricia K. Marshall on April 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Thank you Mr. Hotaling for sharing Jimmy's story. His biography takes us to an important time in American history and takes us to far off places in the early 20th Century. Jimmy's passion for the sport and his circumstances brought him to Warsaw, controlled by the Russians in 1904. I can't imagine taking this risk, it tells us so much about Jimmy's confidence, his sense of self worth and passion for racing. He watched other jockeys leave America and found a way to participate in racing overseas. His story takes him through difficult times in Europe where he died at the age of 94.

What I liked most about the book is that it is a human interest story that shows Jimmy Winkfield's courage, gives us insight into early 20th century horse racing in America and what circumstances moved American jockeys overseas to ride. The story is told in the context of 20th Century history, which increases our understanding of the times in which Jimmy lived and the career decisions he made.

A must read for those who love horse racing, history and a good human-interest story.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Devoted Reader on July 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I learned of the book when I heard its author being interviewed on NPR. I have no interest in horse racing, but bought the book on the theory that a life this compelling must result in a book equally so. I was, in large part, correct. The writing style leaves a little to be desired, but this is a fast, and gripping, read. In the end, one is left with a real sense for what Winkfield's life must have been like.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joel E. Reingold on July 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
You don't even have to like horseracing to love Ed Hotaling's brilliantly researched and engaging histories with a racetrack theme.

As he did in his other two memorable and important books on the subject, Hotaling's WINK unearths the forgotten magic of the past and brings it to life, vivid, and sparkling.

WINK is a major contender to win a National Book Award or Pulitzer for biography. It is just terrific.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rosemary A. Taggart on August 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
What a breathtaking book for any reader that loves thoroughbred horses! Jimmie Winkfield stands before a great curtain of racism, assassinations, prejudice, and person danger. But through it all it was the horses that he understood and loved. This gifted rider a mere, 4'11" lived his life with great persistance and bravery. If anyone loves stories of thoroughbred racing they will find "Wink" a true revelation. Hotaling not only told the story of a black jockey but he wove the story in and around events in history. If you are looking for this book to be of the same flavor as "Seabiscuit" you will be grossly disappointed. Hotaling is a writer that does not rely on the "Hollywood" view of how to write a book, rather he writes an intellectual adventure of a great person in historical thoroughbred racing.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Customer Images

Search

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?